Patio Makeover | Q & A with Heather Bloem of Design Roots

“Life outdoors is life fully lived” is one of Design Roots‘ taglines, and we couldn’t agree more. Design Roots is a design company dedicated to creating outdoor spaces as lovely and welcoming as your indoor ones. Because if you’re going to be spending time outside (whether you’re gardening, lounging, or grilling), why not do it in style?

We spoke to Heather Bloem, co-founder, and designer of Design Roots, about her patio makeover process, patio trends, and design tips for fall.

Heather Bloom of Design Roots

Q: How did Design Roots come about?

A: We have an interesting story. My degree is in landscape architecture. When my husband and I started having kids, I quit my job and started my own company which was Design Roots, but for the last ten years, it was calligraphy and illustration design. Now, with Tal Thevenot [CEO and co-founder], we’ve rebranded and that’s what you’re seeing now.

Tal and I met because our kids went to pre-school together, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Tal is president and principal designer for Aquaterra Outdoors, and he felt there was a missing component within the outdoor living industry. After he’d build a project, he’d want someone to come in and outfit it — to put the final touches on.

Finishing off a space and making it feel like home is the part I love. It’s kind of a natural, organic process. So Tal and I started talking, and it’s been ongoing ever since. We’re finally moving into our own headquarters, which will be our showroom and small boutique shop next week.

Q: What is your role in the company? Do you actively design currently?

I’ve got a few clients I’m working with now. Since we’re starting fresh and building the company up and reinventing the wheel, there are not a lot of companies out there that are doing what we’re doing. I’m definitely a designer, working with clients on projects, but I’m also curating the shop and I’ll be managing the showroom some as we get started.

Q: Can you elaborate on your design process for a patio makeover?

So sometimes clients I work with are wanting to refresh their furniture look or sometimes, like current clients I’m working with right now, they’re at the end of the construction phase (they’re building pools or outdoor kitchens), so I meet with them early in the process. That way I know what that end is can figure out what pieces they’ll need, and construction can equip for the final vision.

When the project is complete, I come in and do a once over all in one day. Often, I reuse existing furniture and I also bring in more — everything from rugs, textiles, baskets, sconces, and tabletop decor, to lighting, chairs, and sofas.

cocktail party table

Q: So, you’re sort of doing interior design, but for the outdoors?

Essentially, yes. Right now, we’re specializing just in the outdoors. We’ve had people ask if we do interiors as well, and we say no. That’s because our vision as a company is to get people outside. We want people to enjoy their outdoor space and live outdoors as much as possible — it’s what we ourselves do personally.

Q: When you do a patio makeover, what is the most important thing to you? What are you looking to create?

That all depends on the client. What do they gravitate towards? Are they wanting to be outside, snuggling with family and watching sports games or are they looking for an entertaining space for a gathering? I find out how they live currently (kids, pets, etc.) and what they want from the outdoor space. Then I go from there.

First, we’re seeing people that are wanting to use their outdoor space year-round, and so they’re wanting to invest in pieces that will last, are comfortable year-round, and do well in the elements.

We’re also seeing a huge trend in having your own garden at home — whether that be a whole raised bed in its own area or a small patio garden that’s moveable. People want to incorporate the garden aspect to their space in some way. With that too, we’re seeing a whole lot of low maintenance plants. Cacti and succulents are big because they’re super easy to maintain on a patio. Adding greens to your outdoor living space is a huge trend right now.

Otherwise, we’re seeing that people want a lounging, comfortable feel outside just as they do in their living room. This includes just adding more decor to the outdoors, just as they would to their indoors. Paying attention to rugs and throw pillows helps.

Q: Do you ever incorporate green (plants, gardens, etc) into patio/porch spaces? What do you think this does for a space?

Heather Bloem with Gardenuity product

Oh yes, I add green to every project. Even if the client doesn’t specifically ask for it, I will incorporate some sort of tabletop planter or something. It immediately adds texture and freshness to the space. So yes, green comes with me in every project.

Q: What are your top tips to offer someone who wants to makeover their patio?

Inside your home, you always gravitate towards your favorite chair and blanket. I want people to have that same experience outside so my first tip for a patio makeover would be to pick a blanket you really love and put it outdoors (make sure it can withstand some of the elements).

Secondly, I tell people to always add a pop of green — it’s amazing what it can do for the atmosphere of a space. If you don’t have a lot of room or a green thumb, I tell people to start with succulents because they’re so low maintenance to keep.

Other items too — bring candles or add something that has an earthy smell to it, like rosemary. Anything that you would want inside, find the outdoor version, and it will create an atmosphere so you’ll want to be outdoors.

Q: What does being outdoors do for you?

Gardenuity Patio Garden

For me, I immediately feel relaxed in an outdoor setting. There’s something about the fresh air and green — whether you have just one patio container or you’ve got an entire yard of shrubs and greens and trees. It’s soothing and relaxing for me. I just want to spend time outside.

There’s something special about connecting to nature a little more in this crazy busy world. For me, that’s my happy place.

If you’re looking for that pop of green for your patio makeover, these four fall patio gardens will transform your space!