The Hunt: Lights! Planters! Dacron!
Whether the staging ground is a luxuriously landscaped half acre or a tottering fire escape bearing a "rustic" urban patina, Memorial Day in these parts marks a collective throwing-open of doors. The faster you turn that long-dormant space into a plein-air paradise, the sooner you’ll be kicking back in the sun. Luckily, a handful of retailers are stacking the deck in your favor.
You’ll find some of the area’s swankiest offerings for al fresco entertaining at Didriks (190 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-5700, didriks.com). The slick steel Talt collection by Modern Outdoor, for instance, includes a low, deep sofa ($2,999–$4,399) and loungers ($1,999–$3,199) in six different cushion hues. For backyard banquets, check out Barlow Tyrie’s extendable teak Windsor table ($2,599), which seats up to eight. This season, Design Within Reach (519 Tremont St., Boston, 617-451-7801; 1030 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-3690; dwr.com) is no longer content to peddle Eames chairs. It’s tackling the out-of-doors with its cushy Treviso modular sofa set ($900–$1,200 per piece, plus weather-resistant Dacron cushions) and an eco-minded take on the Adirondack chair and ottoman ($198–$550), made from recycled plastic.
If time—or budget—makes custom orders out of the question, Seasons Four (1265 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, 781-861-1200, seasons-four.com) has a dizzying array of in-stock items like bistro tables and wicker sets. Even better, prices are reasonable, like $799 for a four-person wrought-iron dining set. If you’re really strapped, there’s always Ikea (One Ikea Way, Stoughton, 781-344-4532, ikea.com), where some side tables are $20 and jumbo table umbrellas can run less than $70.
Newton’s Winston Flowers & Garden (11 Florence St., 800-457-4901, winstonflowers.com) has all the flourishes you’d expect from this high-end chain florist, only geared for your garden instead of your Ming vase. They make it easy to fake that lived-in look, with oh-so-imperfectly-aged wooden containers of every size ($28–$3,500) and industrial-chic concrete Mesa planters ($50–$375). The most gung-ho green thumbs might prefer the enormous Mahoney’s Garden Center in Winchester (242 Cambridge St., 781-729-5900, mahoneysgarden.com), stocked with hundreds of containers, ranging from $5 terra cotta flowerpots and $35 cedar window boxes to glossy, kiln-dried Vietnamese pottery (up to $400)—not to mention hard-to-find blooms to put inside them, like tango geraniums and black-eyed Susan vines.
At Wolfers (103 N. Beacon St., Allston, 617-254-0700; 1339 Main St., Waltham, 781-890-5995; wolfers.com), highlights include utilitarian spotlights ($25–$60), Old World–style lampposts ($500–$1,000), and outdoor chandeliers ($400–$1,000). The upscale Chimera (327 A St., Boston, 617-542-3233, chimeralightingdesign .com) in Fort Point Channel carries mod designs by Hunza, as well as custom-order decorative lanterns, pendants, and recessed wall lighting from Bega, Beachside, and Northeast Lantern. While known mostly for its interior fixtures, Yale Appliance and Lighting (296 Freeport St., Boston, 617-825-9253, yaleappliance.com) also offers a ton of patio-appropriate models, such as Craftsman- and Colonial-style wall sconces by Hinkley ($60–$405) and customized path and deck lighting systems by Kichler.
Once again, Yale takes the steak. This is the spot to invest in that $8,000-plus, 54-inch Lynx gas grill, featuring an infrared "pro-sear" burner, rotisserie, grill lights, LED-illuminated knobs, and precise temperature controls—the grilling equivalent of a Bentley. For mere mortal barbecuers, Yale proffers $500-to-$2,000 Weber models and sleek Fuego grills for around $3,500. And there’s no shame in shopping Home Depot (5 Allstate Rd., Boston, 617-442-6110, and other locations, homedepot.com) or Lowe’s (306 Providence Hwy., Dedham, 781-355-3780, and other locations, lowes.com) for ‘cues from $30 Smokey Joes to $2,600 behemoths.
Planter photo by Matt Dooley