Spring ’24 One Room Challenge | Outdoor Oasis Week Four | Fabric Dilemmas & Decisions


It’s WEEK FOUR of the Spring 2024 One Room Challenge, I cannot believe we are halfway to the reveal, and unfortunately, I do NOT feel halfway finished!!

In case you’re new here, my name is Justine Dennen, and I’m the owner of Blue Leopard Interiors, a boutique residential interior design firm in Great Falls, VA. We bought this home in the summer of 2022, and since then, besides transforming clients’ homes, I’ve been transforming this home! This is my fourth ORC, (so far I’ve tackled my Dining Room and Butler’s Pantry, my formal Living Room, and my kitchen) and this time I’m transforming my back deck and patio into an Outdoor Oasis! I am having so much fun being my own client and making this home look and feel exactly how I want it, but I won’t lie – participating in the One Room Challenge is fun and fabulous – but also a ton of work!

If you’re not familiar with the One Room Challenge, it’s an eight week online event which happens every spring and fall, where interior decorators and home bloggers, undertake redesigning or designing from scratch a room of their choosing, while sharing the progress along the way. It’s not a competition, as there is no winner, just a supportive group of like-minded design enthusiasts challenging themselves to complete a room in eight weeks. I love the community it creates, and how it inspires me to complete a room in eight weeks. I’m used to completing rooms, or entire homes for clients within a certain time frame, but as a designer, its all too easy to be a little lazy when it comes to completing our own projects. Kinda like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes. But when there’s an eight week deadline to get it all done and photo ready, you better believe I’m gonna work my patootie off to complete it!

That said, I almost didn’t participate this time around. I completed my kitchen renovation for the Fall ’23 ORC, and while I’m thrilled with the results, it was hard work, and hard on the bank account. I was feeling like we needed a bit of a break from renovations – our middle child is graduating from high school in June, I have a few full-service client projects I’m working on, and I just wasn’t sure I could add in another big thing. But when I started thinking about hosting a graduation party for our daughter, I realized that our back deck and patio did not feel like a reflection of our family or an extension of the rest of the home I’ve worked so hard on. And so, it made sense to spruce up our outdoor areas, and participate in the One Room Challenge once again!!

And although progress has been a little slower than I would like, I am pretty sure I’ll be able to have it photo and party ready by the eight week deadline. Last week my son power-washed the lower patio area for me, but we are waiting to do the deck until most of the spring blooms are finished falling, and making a mess all over the deck. In the meantime, I’ve been working on choosing fabrics with which to recover the outdoor furniture, and it’s been more challenging than I expected.



Here is what our deck looked like when we bought our house in July of 2022:


BEFORE – Our deck as it looked in the listing photos


And here is the lower patio/grill/fire pit area:


BEFORE – Our patio as it looked in the listing photos

When we bought the house, we bought all of the patio furniture as well. Although it’s not exactly what I would choose, it’s great quality, powder coated aluminum, and it was a great price for so many pieces.  As you can see in the photos above, we have lots of red cushions, but the sectional is covered in an aqua fabric, and the swivel chairs are in an aqua and tan stripe. These colors don’t look great together, feel a bit outdated, and there’s no cohesiveness. My plan was to have my upholsterer recover the sectional, swivel chairs, and the ottoman, and leave all of the red cushions as-is – mainly to keep costs down – but also because there is something pretty about the pops of red in a background of so much greenery. So I began my search for an upholstery fabric for the sectional and chairs, that would not only tie into the existing red cushions, but also evoke a similar vibe to my main inspiration, the gorgeous tropical garden terrace at Annabel’s of London:


The tropical covered terrace of Annabel’s Private Members Club London – so many gorgeous fabrics on the chairs, banquettes, and pillows!



An up-close shot of the gorgeous fabrics designer Martin Budnizki used on the Annabel’s terrace

Outdoor Fabric Conundrum


Although I’m not trying to copy this fantastic design verbatim, the colors, patterns, and textures are total eye candy for my maximalist brain, and I am definitely using this rich, colorful aesthetic as a jumping-off point for creating my Outdoor Oasis. I think one of the most important details are the textures of the fabric and trims used. I believe this terrace is completely enclosed by a conservatory-style glass roof, so they may not have needed to use outdoor fabrics, and even if they did, they were likely designed and manufactured exclusively for Annabel’s.  Unfortunately, most outdoor fabrics are printed rather than woven, and don’t have the same kind of texture or depth as these do, so as I searched for outdoor fabrics, I wasn’t just looking for the colors and patterns, I was also keeping texture in mind. You may not be surprised to learn that I love anything leopard print, (it appears all throughout my home) and I was super excited when I found this fabric made by InsideOut at Fabric Warehouse.  It’s a woven chenille outdoor fabric, so it looks and feels like indoor fabric.


InsideOut Indoor/Outdoor Performance Balboa Woven Chenille Mink


I immediately ordered a swatch, and began visualizing it on my Grand Tuscany sectional, updating my digital mood board with the woven leopard outdoor fabric:


A rough mock-up of how the woven leopard fabric might look on my sectional, minus the planned red piping.


My plan was to cover the entire sectional and two of the swivel chairs in the woven leopard fabric, and add red piping on all of the cushions to tie it into the existing red cushions, sounds pretty snazzy, right?! But then I calculated the cost of 24 yards of the fabric to cover the sectional as well as two of the swivel chairs, and decided that nearly $1300 on the fabric alone (not including the labor), was more than I could justify spending 🙁  I needed to find another solution, but in the meantime I came across another element I knew I wanted to add to the space…


The Perfect Outdoor Rug


Besides all of the beautiful textiles, another thing that makes the Annabel’s terrace so inviting, is that although it’s technically an outdoor space, it looks just as luxe as the interiors of the club. I also want to create a feeling of our deck being an extension of our home, and a good way to do that, while bringing in more color and texture, is with outdoor rugs. When I found this one, I knew it was perfect in size (8′), shape (round for the octagonal seating area), pattern (a similar Ikat to that on the Annabel’s banquette above), color (pretty much all the colors in the rainbow!), and price ($98 on Amazon!!), so I ordered a small sample first, and now have the big one on it’s way:


So excited about this Unique Loom Modern Collection Outdoor Ikat Rug!



 Fabric Option #2

I went back to the drawing board on the sectional and chair fabric, and now that I had the small 2×3 rug, I could see what fabrics really looked best with it. Although I probably could have pulled off the all-leopard sectional and chairs with this vibrant rug, one of my original fabric swatches was really standing out, and it’s a solid green Sunbrella fabric called Spectrum Cilantro.


I love this leafy green Sunbrella Fabric in Cilantro – and it happens to look great with the Ikat outdoor rug!


Sunbrella is a well-known brand name, and have really set the standard for outdoor fabrics, so I feel confident knowing that this fabric will be completely durable, fade-proof, and weather-proof for years to come. And at about $20 less per yard than the woven leopard fabric, it’s going to be much more affordable for re-covering so many cushions.


Taking a Chance on Store Bought Cushions for the Swivel Chairs

I was browsing the aisles of my local Homesense store last week (it’s like HomeGoods on steroids), and noticed they had lots of deep seating chair cushions in stock. Most come with a 24″ square, boxed seat cushion, and a 24″ knife-edge back cushion. They had several colors and patterns to choose from, but when I saw this set, I was smitten:


Tommy Bahama Indoor/Set of Outdoor Deep Seating Cushions from Homesense


I love the woven, raffia-like fabric and black piping – neutral yet textural – and at $49.99 for the set, I had to see if they would fit my swivel chairs. They had two sets in the store near me, so I snatched them up and brought them home to try:


The Tommy Bahama seat cushion set on my Grand Tuscany swivel chair



Not only do they fit, but they’re surprisingly soft and comfy to sit on, and completely update the look of the chair! Here’s how the chair looked with the old cushions:


Swivel Chair BEFORE new cushions


Sectional Fabric Decision

Fantastic!! If I can make these seat cushions work, it will save me big bucks and time! So with that exciting, and budget-saving find in mind, I took another look at the sectional fabric. I still loved the idea of the Cilantro Green Sunbrella with the natural golden straw tone of the seat cushions, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the woven leopard fabric, and loved the way it looks with both the new seat cushions, the green Sunbrella fabric, and the outdoor rug!


There’s something about this combination of textiles that just works!


Then I had an idea – if I recover the big seat cushions of the sectional in the Sunbrella – thats the bulk of my yardage – and that just leaves the five back cushions. What if I recover three of the five in the woven leopard, and the other two in the green Sunbrella? And just to relate everything to the store bought seat cushions, I’m planning to pipe all of the green and leopard cushions in black! And even though my original plan was to keep the third swivel chair, the ottoman, and the chaise lounge in the old red cushions, I felt like that might be a bit too much going on. So I found two more sets of the Tommy Bahama cushions, (the seat cushion is a perfect fit for the ottoman), and I plan to recover the chaise lounge in the Sunbrella Spectrum Cilantro with black piping as well. I’ve already ordered the fabric, and just need to get my cushions to my upholsterer!


Throw Pillows for the win!


As you can see in the Annabel’s terrace inspiration photos, there are a LOT of throw pillows! I’m a sucker for lots of pillows, especially in a bunch of different colors and patterns. Just take a look at my formal living room – the Whimsical Parlor – sofa!


Whimsical Parlor
Eight pillows in many different colors and patterns, all happily coexisting on my parlor sofa! Its a combination that brings me joy daily 🙂



I was (and am still) planning to have some outdoor pillows made, and there are so many outdoor fabrics in every pattern and color you could imagine. The only downside to many outdoor fabrics is that the combination of the type fabric (acrylic), and the printed images tend to make them all look a little flat, so I’ve been on the lookout for a couple of really nice patterns and textures that I can add to the mix to bring my eclectic pillow collection to life. I’ve already purchased a few yards of a fun, woven outdoor stripe from my favorite local home decor fabric source, Haute Fabrics in Chantilly, VA


I love the vintage beach chair vibe of this fun, striped outdoor fabric – so many colors to add to the mix!


Schumacher Chiang Mai Dragon has been a favorite fabric of mine since I first laid eyes on it, and although I’ve used it in a couple of client projects in different colorways, I’ve never had the opportunity to use it for myself – until now! Although this iconic pattern is typically printed on linen, they also make it in an indoor/outdoor fabric, so this is the perfect opportunity to use it!


Here it is on pillows made by the Pillow Time Girls on Etsy – not inexpensive – but soooo gorgeous!


Then, the other day, as I was perusing the aisles of Homesense once again, I found two of these cuties for $19.99 each!


How cute are these indoor/outdoor leopard pillows?!? The colors are perfect!


So that’s where I’m at now, Week Four. There’s still so much to do, but at least I have a clear direction now with all my fabrics. Next week, I’m planning to show you the lighting I’ll be using on the deck and patio, so stay tuned, and don’t forget to check out all of the other great progress made by my fellow participants here!


Here is my ORC progress

Week 1  ||  Week 2  ||  Week 3  ||  Week 4  ||  Week 5  ||  Week 6 ||  Week 7  ||  Week 8