Last month, the Merchandise Mart unveiled its DreamHome 2012—a group of showrooms that together create a gorgeous home designed by the city’s top interior designers. The DreamHome, which is open for visitors to view, boasts a bevy of decorating ideas, but none quite so fitting for the season as the outdoor dining space designed by Thomas Bucherie of Thomas Bucherie Designs. Bucherie’s space is modern but inviting, and it’s easy to imagine it filled with friends on a warm summer evening. The designer talks to us about his inspirations and how to make our own outdoor spaces DreamHome-worthy.
What was your inspiration for the DreamHome’s outdoor dining space?
THOMAS BUCHERIE: My inspiration was two-fold: I wanted to showcase products, accessories, and fabrics that had a luxurious feel and were reminiscent of indoor items, while bringing attention to the high-end, quality, and unexpectedly outdoor-friendly products that are available today. Secondly, I wanted to create an environment that mixed contemporary items and rustic pieces. I thought of it as "Miami Beach meets Martha's Vineyard."
How is designing outdoor spaces in Chicago different than in other cities?
TB: Chicago—along with the Midwest in general—really comes alive in the spring and summer; people come out of hibernation and embrace the outdoors. To that end, it's important to provide clients with an exciting but effortless outdoor environment that is not only beautiful and comfortable, but can serve multiple functions. I like to provide clients with the ability to really enjoy and love their outdoor spaces as much as the weather allows.
How can Chicagoans liven up their outdoor spaces for spring?
TB: Add unconventional colors in unexpected ways. [Pieces from] Room and Board's line of 100% recycled furniture, such as the Adirondack, [come] in fresh new colors; we love that it's made from recycled milk jugs! Scatter vividly colored small occasion tables about your current outdoor furniture. Try using electric flame candles in various sizes and colors to add light, interest, and drama to your space, without the hassle and clean-up of wax candles.
What are a few of your favorite places in the city for outdoor furniture and accessories?
TB: Haymaker (5507 N. Clark St.) has brightly colored, powder-coated steel occasional tables. Architectural Artifacts (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.) is a treasure trove of offbeat and interesting items, and many of them can be repurposed for outdoor use. Primitive Artworks (130 N. Jefferson St.) has an amazing collection of statuary and over-scaled metal pots to dress up an outdoor space. Thomas Bucherie Designs, 1056 W. Lawrence Ave., 312-608-5628