Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky decorates her terrace with something we'd never (ever) bring outside – until now

The history-making athlete elevated her balcony with an unexpected accessory – and it's our cue to break the same conventions

Katie Ledecky
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky is used to breaking records in the pool – but her approach to exterior decorating is slightly more associated with rule-breaking. 

Katie, who made history after achieving seven Olympic gold medals and 21 World Championship gold medals (the most in history for a female swimmer), shared a rare glimpse into her former home in Stanford, California, where she lived until 2021 while completing her degree. 

During this time, Katie enjoyed a balcony garden that overlooks Santa Clara's greenery – but, for all its beauty, we were slightly more distracted by her decorating choices – or, more specifically, how she chose to hang artwork outside.

While artwork may have been among the last decor items we would consider to put outside, Katie proves it is possible. Pairing it with a gray swivel armchair, the swimmer has mastered indoor/outdoor living by creating a small living room-style space above the trees. And the artwork is the centerpiece of this arrangement. 

As mentioned, we can't escape the fact that exterior artwork has to contend with natural elements – whether it's California's sun – or rainy and windier climates. So, is it actually possible to bring artwork? We asked design experts, and they may have convinced us to change our minds.

'Being an interior designer with a passion for creating captivating spaces, I firmly believe that art transcends the boundaries of indoor settings and can transform even the most unexpected outdoor areas,' says New York-based designer Elizabeth Grace

'Decorating with art in an urban garden or on the wall of a terrace can be a brilliant idea, infusing these spaces with a touch of originality and artistic flair.'

Interior Designer
Elizabeth Grace on a grey background
Interior Designer
Elizabeth Grace

Elizabeth Grace is an interior designer and furniture expert. She received her degree in Interior Design from the University of Notre Dame. Elizabeth landed her first job as an intern with a leading firm in New York City, learning from some of the city’s top designers. She currently works as an interior designer for both residential and commercial clients.

As suggested, Katie's decision to bring both artwork and soft furniture outside obscures the lines between her interior and exterior spaces – and it's something that Elizabeth pick up on. 

'By hanging art outside, you can seamlessly blend the realms of indoor and outdoor living, blurring the boundaries between the two,' she notes. 'This artistic fusion extends the sense of homeliness beyond the walls of a dwelling, making the terrace or urban garden an inviting extension of the home's interior.'

So, which artwork should we choose? Naturally, Katie gets it right again with her floral print, as Elizabeth recommends opting for a similar piece that will fit right into our gardens.

'Integrating nature-inspired art, like botanical paintings or sculptures, complements the surrounding greenery, establishing a harmonious connection between art and nature,' she says.

'This symbiotic relationship creates a serene and inviting atmosphere, enticing visitors to immerse themselves in both the beauty of art and the outdoor environment.'

We're replicating the look with these Katie-inspired buys below.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.