Guest Post By Sarah Bashford

Since we are now in the heart of summer, it is the time for barbecues, 4th of July parties, and other outdoor entertaining. However, living in San Francisco has its challenges during the summer.

SF fog

Is it Summer or Winter?

1) Mark Twain was known to say, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Although our summers don’t entail below-zero temperatures and snow, summer temperatures in the city usually stay below 70 degrees, thanks to low clouds that block the sun and damp fog that produces a cold mist. This can make entertaining in your outdoor space uncomfortable for your guests and yourself. One way to combat the chilly San Francisco summer is to add a fire pit to your outdoor entertaining space. Much like a campfire does in the wilderness, a fire pit can encourage people to gather around it for warmth and conversations.


2) The summer fog in San Francisco can be so damp that it leaves everything outside wet. This can be problematic for outdoor pillows and cushions. Thus, most people opt to get outdoor pillows and cushions in traditional outdoor fabric that’s made to withstand the elements and prevent fading from the sun.

Traditional outdoor fabric is often bright with a shiny, almost plastic texture. Nowadays, more and more high-end fabric manufacturers are producing luxurious outdoor fabrics, such as chenille and boucle textures woven with hints of metallic. You can choose to have textural interest and a softer more complex color range which often better suits our less tropical San Franciscan surroundings.

outdoor fabric 4

You Can’t Have it All… Or Can You?

3) Another challenge San Franciscans have with outdoor entertaining is lack of space. Unlike suburban homes with large yards, San Francisco city dwellers are often confined to tiny plots of land. Just as we must create functional living spaces within tight interiors, we must also make the most of our small outdoor spaces. One way to do this is to think carefully about how you would most likely use your outdoor space.

If you like to host barbecues, you would probably invite more guests than you would to an indoor dinner party. Plus, being outside, guests would probably prefer to walk around and socialize, rather than being restricted to an outdoor dining table. If that’s the case, instead of having a large outdoor dining table which seats eight, it might be better to have a small two-seater café table and an outdoor lounge area with a sofa, a few chairs, several accent tables, and an indoor/outdoor bar cart for serving food and drinks.

outdoor bar cart

4) If you like to throw garden parties but your outdoor furniture ends up taking most of the footprint of your outdoor space, a great way to create a garden setting is to have a living wall. A living wall is essentially a vertical garden, in which plants are grown from planters that are hung on a wall or fence. You can learn how to create a living wall at www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Living-Wall.


5) If you would like to maximize the appearance of your garden – just as how you would use mirrors to make interior rooms look bigger – mirrors can also make your garden look more expansive. The key is to position the mirror so that it reflects plants in the garden, rather than a blank wall.

Visit www.successfulgardendesign.com/garden-mirrors-how-to-effectively-use-them-in-your-garden/ to learn how to effectively use garden mirrors.

backyard mirror 2

If you are fortunate to have an outdoor space in the city of San Francisco that you can call your own, don’t take it for granted. Whether you use it for entertaining guests or just for your own personal enjoyment, create a space that makes the most of this precious resource!

outdoor lounge area color adj


About Sarah Bashford


Black and White Close Up Portrait copyOver a decade ago, Sarah Bashford, Principal at Bashford Design, began custom designing residential interiors. She has transformed many homes for socialites, rock stars, pro athletes, and busy families. Her range includes historic glamorous Manhattan apartments, Pacific Heights mansions, and casually contemporary homes.

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