Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Edwards

Chicago native Kelly Edwards has become a Style Network and HGTV star for her ability to design spaces on the cheap. She’s just come out with a book, The Design Cookbook, and she’s in town promoting it.

Since it looks like summer might be starting pretty soon now, we asked Edwards to give us some ideas for designing an outdoor space.

Here are her five tips:

  1. Use color and graphic prints on pillows, chair cushions, and outdoor rugs. Take cues from the flowers and the landscape when choosing your colors—it will look like one big canvas.    

  2. If possible, build a fire pit. At night your space will glow and it's great for entertaining.
Indoor furniture can work outdoors. Got some old kitchen chairs? Put a Sunbrella fabric on the chair pads and the look becomes more casual and cozy. And don't forget the outdoor rug—it creates a zone for your seating.

Use lots of ambient lighting! Candles placed in jars, lanterns hung from the trees or lights under your umbrella can create outdoor chandeliers. I also love stringing lights around the trees (the big bulbs look best). For even more light, hang a mirror on the deck. It will reflect the yard and the light. 

  5. Consider curtain panels outdoors. They will give you the added shade you need and soften the look of your outdoor space.  

Need more advice? Want to meet Edwards in person? You have two chances:

  • Tonight, at 6:30 p.m.,
 she will be signing books at a Barnes & Noble in Oakbrook Center. 297 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook.
  • Wednesday night, from 6 to 8 p.m., she will be at eDrop-Off. The event is free, but RSVPs are required: 2117 N. Halsted.

Attendees can also enter to win a private consultation with Kelly and a $500 gift card to Room & Board.