Essentials for Outdoor Living

Our contributors share some of their favorite finds for outdoor living spaces.

Lights, Pottery Barn; Pots, CB2

I love a planter garden. This gives an opportunity to play with new ideas every season. Last year, I planted each pot with a different herb for a modern look. Of course, no garden is complete without string lights to set the mood for that backyard bash or intimate outdoor dinner. – Shirley Meisels

Light, Lumens; Pouf, CB2

Lighting can turn an ordinary outdoor space into something magical. In a garden or around a pool, this Pearl LED Lamp looks amazing when displayed in multiple sizes. I also love indoor/outdoor pouffes. They make great little side tables when you put a tray on top, or can be used as an extra seat if needed. – Christine Elliot

Keep your drinkware and cocktail supplies in one place with a bar cart that has a cooler/ice storage. Outdoor fabrics have also come a long way! Add color and interest to your outdoor space with pillows and cushions in interesting fabrics and textures. – Robbin Caskenette

Photo, Toja Grid

Protection from the elements is key! Enjoy the outdoors longer with covered lounging, dining and cooking areas. – Trish Knight

Stylish melamine plates that won’t break if a party gets too wild is a must. We also recommend stemless glasses that won’t tip on outdoor furniture which tends to be a bit less stable when placed on uneven ground pavers and grass. – Amanda Hamilton

I love to add a personal touch to my outdoor living space with decorative DIY projects that add a hint of whimsy. You can find some of my favorite DIY accents on the Marc & Mandy Show or online at! – Marc Atiyolil

Treat your outdoor living space like a living room and don’t forget to add an area rug. I also love the look of palms and plants in an outdoor space to create an oasis. Put them in fun planters for a creative touch. – Karla Dreyer

A great feature in an outdoor living space is a concrete fire table. Available in gas or propane, these upscale campfires help you stay warm on cool summer nights and are ideal for after dinner lounging. When not ignited and combined with the cover, this table also functions as a coffee table. I also love a stylish insulated rolling cooler which allows guests to enjoy ice cold beverages outdoors! – Jillian Straky

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Is J. Crew trying to pass off J. Crew Factory stuff as “J. Crew Essentials”?

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Reddit: J. Crew Essential = J. Crew Factory?

First they tried re-labeling J. Crew Factory as “J. Crew Mercantile.” Then they just started mixing a bit of that Mercantile / J. Crew Factory stuff in with the regular line on Now? It appears that J. Crew has started to ditch the J. Crew Factory / Mercantile branding on their main site, in favor of calling the lower-line product “Essential,” yet still selling it among the regular rank and file stuff on

And it’s all pretty clear to see that it’s simply renamed and relocated factory/mercantile stuff, thanks to the branding on the items in question (as shown up top).

Even stranger? “Essential” items on the J. Crew site don’t match the prices on the Factory/Mercantile Site. And not always in a way you might expect:

J. Crew

Left: J. Crew | Right: J. Crew Factory
“Comparable.” But to what? NOT your other website?

So far, this seems to be limited to just cheap knits like t-shirts. But it appears to be another step down the what-the-hell-trail for J. Crew, and it’s confusing. When tipster Kurtis K. sent in an email about this hubub (thanks Kurtis!) I was confused.

I thought he was referring to the “J. Crew Always” line. Which is another line, but that’s stuff resurrected from their past. It’s not the Essential line. Or label. Or… hell I don’t know.

No word on whether or not that “J. Crew Always” stuff will be sold on the J. Crew Factory/Mercantile site along with the yet to be re-branded J. Crew Essentials stuff. Maybe they could call it J. Crew Always Essentials? Or maybe the company will go super meta, and start selling their flagship, half canvas Ludlow suits on the cheap Factory/Mercantile site and label them “J. Crew Factory Fundamental Splurges which are actually Ludlow suits but please call them Fundamental Splurges m’kay?


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