Synthetic turf springs up on patios, living rooms, furniture, and walls. Basement golf, anyone?
One of my favorite topics to write about is using humble materials and utilitarian objects in interesting ways. Those who have been reading along have seen me extol the virtues of pasta strainers as planters and old chicken feeders as shelves. Today, I turn my attention toward another wholly unglamorous commercial product that can bring unexpected style and fun to your home turf. It’s bright and green and plush all over: Synthetic grass is an unsung, unsexy hero that is ready to earn its 15 minutes of fame as a fresh, modern accent. Here are a dozen ways to go for the green.
1. Astroturf art. Staring at these turf-clad wall panels may inspire you to ask … “Why?” Conversely, I dare you to ask, “Why not?” as this designer clearly did. A testament to the fact that design can be playful, that it doesn’t have to “make sense” and that it doesn’t have to please anyone but the homeowner, this eclectic wall art challenges notions of conformity and convention in decorating. A noble task for such a humble material.
2. Child-friendly. Kids are notoriously rough on flooring, furniture, walls and, well, pretty much everything. Fortunately, turf can handle it. As many homeowners in drought-plagued areas have begun replacing thirsty lawns with smaller patches of synthetic grass, today’s youngest generation is already acclimating to a new sensation underfoot. Pave their play spaces in turf and you’ll never have to worry about them playing ball in the house again.
3. Perfect cut for courtyards. Synthetic grass is an unconventional but truly enlightened choice for flooring in an atrium or conservatory where a flood of natural light gives the space the feeling of an outdoor room. The indoor/outdoor vibe is enhanced by additions such as a custom water wall, curved lawn shape, go-anywhere tile and a stacked stone wall that is a dead-ringer for exterior masonry.
4. Patio pleaser. Besides using turf in walled courtyards, you might also use it in an even less conventional way: on a covered outdoor patio. This waterfront property couldn’t easily support a lawn — the salt water would be a constant battle, as would a lack of sunlight penetrating the patio’s innermost reaches — but turf has no such limitations.
5. Bountiful balcony. Turf is also a great choice on an outdoor balcony where real grass might have trouble growing. These lucky homeowners get to wake up to a convincing natural tableau. This strategy is especially recommended for high-rise balconies where rich stretches of greenery are seldom found.
6. Rug refresh. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more durable rug than artificial lawn. Yes, it’s not as soft and plush as the cotton and silk fibers we’re used to stepping on indoors, but if your feet are comfortable enough on prickly jute, sisal, and rough-hewn wool, turf isn’t that far of a leap. As a floor treatment, it simply can’t help but give your space that backyard ambiance.
7. A putter’s paradise. Furnishing your putting green with turf is as customary as laying tile on your floor. But bringing the putting green inside? Now, that is inspired. It’s surprising that this practice isn’t more common in rec rooms and game rooms. At its most basic, it’s a weekend DIY project that involves framing a short platform and affixing a sheet of turf to the surface. For a more polished and professional setup like the one pictured here, a carpenter or cabinetmaker can create a whole mini-golf wonderland in your basement.
8. Wonder wall. A green turf accent wall behind the bed is the perfect textural element in this colorful space. No need to pay top dollar for the most realistic-looking synthetic you can find, as the texture itself, is the driving force of this design decision. Here, it also makes a fun backdrop for a collection of kitschy characters such as dragonflies, bees, and other grass-dwelling fauna.
9. Pristine poufs. A pair of ottomans received a custom upholstery job using very convincing artificial turf. Since turf is designed to dwell outdoors, it is meant to withstand harsh UV rays and precipitation, making it an ideal covering for soft goods like poufs that don’t typically thrive outdoors.
10. Abstract landscape. What’s great about turf is that it can be literally hand-cut with a pair of scissors into any shape imaginable. We saw above how it can be curved, shaped into an L or cut into identical wall panels. Here, we see a large sheet of turf fashioned into a free-form rug with seating that mimics stones for an overall mod patio arrangement.
11. Aerated accessories. If you can upholster with turf, surely you can cut it into pillows as Alicia Blas Macdonald decided to do. Above the sofa, a matching frame is hung that cleverly sets off the backdrop of greenery with yet more greenery. The same turf material has been styled into a rug below the seating area.
12. The real deal. Made you look! That small patch on the floor is actually a real grass, according to designer Kevin Akey. Proof positive that using common materials (flora, in this case) in unexpected ways can be richly rewarding whether they’re the real deal or not.