EXQUISITE OUTDOORS

by ALAENA HOSTETTER photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

ACHEERY OCEANFRONT RESORT in the Florida Keys is the site of a recent project completed by Dallas-based Designer’s Patio. The resort was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, which necessitated a complete overhaul, including a replacement of all of its outdoor furniture.

Designer’s Patio’s World Trade Center location puts the business in the right place to cater to designers from all over the United States who come to Dallas for outdoor furniture.

The Florida-based designer on the Islander Resort project in Islamorada happened to be one of them. “It’s a luxurious resort where every room has its own screened-in patio,” says Geneva Wallace-Switzer, who owns Designer’s Patio with her father, Butch Wallace.

Each patio required its own dining set, chaise lounges and umbrella. The project also called for new furniture for the pool area, three restaurants and cabanas on the beach. “There were a lot of different applications with this particular project,” says Wallace-Switzer.

Wallace-Switzer flew out a handful of times to help with the project. “It was definitely a team collaboration,” she says.

The Designer’s Patio staff, including Wallace-Switzer, is on hand to lend as much help as each designer wants. “We’re happy to go on-site to provide that level of in-depth service,” she says. “About 50 percent of designers want our expertise; the other 50 percent want to do it themselves, and we make sure they meet deadlines and provide anything else they or their clients need.”

Being on-site at the Islander Resort prevented a dicey design situation. “Blueprints don’t always translate,” Wallace-Switzer explains. “With this project, they didn’t account for how much space the screened-in porch would take up, so each patio ended up being smaller than we had originally planned.”

Wallace-Switzer measured everything and made a last-minute swap before the orders were placed. “We had to downsize the tables and get a different chair, or it would not have been the feel the resort was looking for,” she says.

Being raised in the outdoor furniture business (Wallace-Switzer’s family opened a retail operation in the early 1990s) has its benefits. Wallace-Switzer is steeped in knowledge about materials and processes, and her know-how is invaluable when selecting the right materials to withstand the toughest climates or custom designing pieces for a specific project.

Designer’s Patio selected Tuuci as the manufacturer for the Islander Resort umbrellas because the company is Florida-based and knows the climate well. “This furniture is literally on the water, with the beating sun and saltwater on it at all times,” Wallace-Switzer says. “When you’re in that harsh of a climate, you have to make sure you’re getting the right product.”

For the seating, Wallace-Switzer worked with Patio Renaissance. “In our industry a lot of these businesses, like Patio Renaissance, are still family-owned and operated,” she says. “I needed to create a chair for this particular application, and they made it for me.”

For another project closer to home, Wallace-Switzer commissioned a local maker to create a 73-by-73-inch outdoor table for a family in Southlake. “One of my favorite local design teams needed something special for their client,” she explains. “They’re building a gorgeous pergola and wanted a large square table that was the perfect size to accommodate a lot of guests but also super durable for their three teenage boys.”

With 18 different manufacturers in the Designer’s Patio showroom, it helps to know the market backward and forward. “We read all of the magazines and keep up with all of the trends,” Wallace-Switzer says. Additionally, her team goes on yearly market trips to select looks for
the upcoming year.

“We’re constantly evolving our vendor list. We evaluate it to make sure we have the highest quality and most innovative and dynamic vendors,” Wallace-Switzer says.

New vendors recently added to the lineup include Domiziani tables imported from Italy. The tabletop surfaces are made from lava stone. “It’s a functioning piece of art—the most beautiful tabletops you’ve ever seen and so unique,” Wallace-Switzer says. “Everyone is loving them.”

Between Designer’s Patio and her branded showroom for the Summer Classics manufacturer, which are both open to the trade in Dallas’ World Trade Center, Wallace-Switzer has carved out a niche where designers can create exactly the look they want for their clients.

“We’ve created a space where designers can bring their clients or shop alone to create the perfect outdoor room,” Wallace-Switzer explains. “We’ve created a lifestyle that is unique and exquisite. Everybody’s backyard can be as unique as they want it to be.”

Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment and food. She can be reached via her website alaenahostetter.com.