The Great Outdoors

Living Alfresco turns outdoor locations into livable spaces

Betsy FantisBetsy Fantis loves the outdoors. Not the woodsy, rustic type—something more chic and planned-out. She dreams of practical, open-air spaces, perfect for lounging and conducive for entertaining.

“It’s time for people in South Florida to finally take advantage of the beautiful outdoor spaces we have here,” she says.

Fantis is the owner of Living Alfresco, a South Miami outdoor furnishings showroom. Fantis outfits many high-end homes in Pinecrest and Coral Gables, most recently for nightclub owners and Miami socialites David and Isabela Grumman.

Stocked with high-quality furniture and unique accessories to match, the company features a variety of furniture lines, including Pavilion, Ebel and Tuuci.

“We truly understand the outdoors,” Fantis says. “We know what will last and what won’t. We also know how to make it beautiful and customized for the client. It’s about creating a space that becomes an extension of the home.”

Living Alfresco began in 2005 as a way for Fantis to feed her interest in interior design.

“I’ve always been drawn to the outside,” she says. “I tried to learn as much as I could. It was an interesting time because it’s when the outdoor world started to change.”

5In the last 10 years, design for outdoor spaces has become more of a focus during home renovations, Fantis says. “People are more interested in creating rooms in an outside space versus just layering patio furniture,” she says.

Today, Fantis’ showroom near Sunset Place is a hub for clients who seek high quality at affordable prices. “You could spend $5,000 or even $10,000 on a sofa,” she says. “But that’s not what we’re about. We supply good quality and a stylish look without that kind of price tag.”

With each customer, Fantis schedules an on-site consultation to get a better understanding of a person’s space and overall vision. Measurements are taken and a personalized layout is created. Everything from the planning to the installation is uniquely curated for customers.

“It’s more than a design process,” she says. “It’s about a successful installation too. We make sure everything looks exactly how we planned it.”

24After installation, the space is accessorized. From rugs and pillows to garden stools and ceramic décor, no detail is left unfinished.

“Things that trend inside the house have started to trend on the outside too,” she says. “Many of my clients have gone for a more vibrant, coastal style versus a weathered tiki look.”

As she has worked throughout Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Pinecrest and beyond, Fantis has noticed how important practicality is when designing an outdoor space. “People want something that will last,” she says. “Manufacturers are finally starting to understand that. We need low-maintenance products that will repel elements like dirt and water.”

For Fantis, the goal is always to design a space that is both tasteful but realistic.

“I always say to my clients, ‘If you’re going to have cushions, you need a plan for them,’” she says with a laugh. “But it’s true. Designing for the outside is about more than just what looks good.”

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