Tips for Living Summer – The New York Times

This article is part of our last special Design section, about spaces inspired by nature.

I have a large covered porch and would like to decorate it. Any suggestions for outdoor fabrics and rugs?

We’ve come a long way from stiff vinyl cushions that cracked and discolored in the sun to perpetually damp rugs that often smelled moldy. Today’s outdoor textiles have a softer feel and resist the growth of nasty microorganisms. The world’s leading Sunbrella company introduced its first awning fabric in 1961, adding marine canvas in the 1970s and outdoor furniture fabric in the 1980s. All are made of an acrylic that is dyed before it is the material is extruded like yarn, which makes it resistant to fading. Other companies use Sunbrella yarns to make their own versions: Knoll offers plain, floral, geometric and textured fabrics. For sun-loving stripes with a Riviera feel, look to Les Toiles du Soleil, a French company that also produces table linens and pillows.

Outdoor rugs come in two varieties, those that can be hosed off and dried in the sun and those that can be washed in the washing machine.

The version of the machine has limits, of course: You can’t fit a 9-by-12-foot rug into a typical family top-loader. But if you have access to a large front loader at a nearby laundromat, these rugs come in fantastic designs and often feel and look like indoor rugs. Check out the offerings at Ruggable (especially the Persian and Bohemian categories) and Fab Habitat (made with recycled materials).

The hose category includes the Greek island-inspired Santorini from Serena & Lily, which starts at $1,278. Annie Selke wears dozens of prints, from understated neutrals to dizzying geometries. And one of my favorite home furnishings stores, CSAO in Paris, offers recycled plastic rugs from Senegal in many cheerful colors.

Now all you need is a pastis, some Bain de Soleil and Salvador Dali to get you going.

I like the way bamboo looks and I want to plant some in my backyard, but I’ve heard it’s very invasive. Real?

Bamboo creates a beautiful, dense barrier wall with a tropical feel, plus it holds a Guinness World Record for fastest growing plant. And therein lies the problem, although not with all species. There are two basic types of bamboo: running and clumping. Ordinary bamboo can grow explosively, spreading and suffocating other plants. (The two varieties of invasive bamboo that are banned by New York State, golden groove and yellow, are working.) In contrast, clumped bamboo tends to stick to a contained area.

Bamboo can grow in almost any climate, although it does worse in really cold and very dry places. Check with a garden center before you buy. If you feel the need to grow bamboo, keep it out of neighbors’ yards, or you can, as has happened, be sued.

Do ceiling fans really do anything? I feel like they just blow hot air.

While traveling through Laos one sweltering April, I learned the true meaning of heat and humidity, and my appreciation for ceiling fans was born. Outdoor restaurants and cafes along the Mekong River had giant fans that made the weather bearable. They didn’t actually cool the air, but they did make the sweat on my skin evaporate more quickly, which slightly lowered my body temperature.

To make sure the breeze does the work, don’t install a fan higher than 9 feet from the floor. (If your ceiling is higher than that, look for a model with an extender bar.) The minimum height for safety is 7 feet. If your ceilings are low, look for a flush mount model.

Fans are rated for dry (indoors only), humid (outdoors, like a covered porch), and humid (able to withstand direct moisture), so choose accordingly. Remote controls are a good idea if you don’t feel like climbing to turn the fan on and off. Most models can also be hardwired and operated with a wall switch.

Another benefit of ceiling fans is that they keep mosquitoes away without chemicals. The breeze dilutes the carbon dioxide you exhale, which attracts mosquitoes, and air currents drive away certain critters (they are weak fliers).

If you’re looking for something elegant, Modern Fan Company’s Cirrus ($525) is minimalist, white, and moisture-resistant, with optional extension rods. Hunter’s Cassius (about $130) also classified as moist, is black and industrial. For a very large outdoor area with a high ceiling, the wet-rated Essence by Big Ass Fans (starting at $4,499) lives up to the brand name, with eight blades and up to a 14-inch extension. feet.

I love to see birds in my garden. Can you recommend a nice and stylish bird feeder?

After years of living in quaint Swiss chalet-like digs, today’s birds must be ready for something more modern. Fortunately, they have many options. Eva Solo sells minimalist tubs and feeders, some sets put together as a single unit, starting at around $36. J. Schatz’s Egg, an ovoid stoneware feeder in four colors, is $275. The pagoda-shaped Silo Feeder, in three colors of recycled plastic, costs about $64. The sweet and simple Pitch Modern Birdhouse from Loll Design comes in eight recycled plastic colors for $145. Finally, Opossum Design has a series of Bauhaus-inspired dining and toilets starting at around $80. I wish one of these came human-sized.