Make your outdoor space even more welcoming with these ideas straight from some of the country’s best designers, like Nate Berkus, Meg Lonergan, and Emilie Munroe. They’ve got brilliant tips for best expressing your interior design aesthetic outside, shopping for patio furniture, using color, creating semi-enclosed areas, and optimizing small-sized spaces so they won’t feel sparse.
When selecting your seating options, pillows, and other forms of outdoor decor, remember to keep the weather in mind. You’ll want to choose furnishings with attractive finishes that will hold up in the elements. Don’t be afraid to mix prints and patterns when it comes to decorating, too. A good rule of thumb to remember is the more your outdoor space feels like your style (rather than the taste of someone else), the more likely you are to use it.
Whether you’ve got a wraparound veranda to work with or you’re planning a party for a pint-sized patio, you’ll find these decorating ideas endlessly useful.
Bring the Indoors Outdoors
Let your personal style spread to your outdoor space for an elegantly cohesive outdoor entertaining environment. “You want your outdoor space to feel as luxe and comfortable as your indoor space,” says interior designer Nate Berkus. “I like to bring a rug out, to help create an environment your guests will love. And move indoor furniture and accessories outside because you want your patio to be an extension of how you live.” Berkus also suggests adding personal touches like throw blankets draped over chairs, framed photos, votives or lanterns, and greenery.
Mix and Match Materials
“Don’t be afraid to eschew the patio set!” says interior designer Olivia Brock of Torrance Mitchell Designs. “Pick and choose different furniture and fabrics for the patio the same way you would inside your home.” Think brightly-colored chairs with a printed umbrella, or various pillows with interesting patterns and accents. The unique mix of materials, hues, and furnishings will make your outdoor space characteristically you.
Enclose Your Space
Whether your neighbors are right on top of you, or you live on a 6-acre estate, outdoor curtains are a good idea. They provide privacy and shade so you can enjoy your outdoor entertaining areas without having to endure the sun’s scorching rays. You can commit to indoor-outdoor living—and make your patio feel like another room in your house—by enclosing it. “Upgrade your patio by adding a pergola and curtains to create a semi-enclosed space,” says interior designer Sarah Vaile of Sarah Whit Interior Design. Close the curtains for some privacy, or when you want to relax and take a nap, it can become an intimate sanctuary.
Be Smart About Scale
“No one wants a space to feel sparse,” interior designer Meg Lonergan says. “Even if the area is small it’s okay to have oversized items such as pillows on your sofa or big planters with big plants.” It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget this helpful hint: Fewer, larger items make a small space feel bigger, and packing in lots of products and small accents will make an area look cluttered.
Create Custom Zones
If you’re lucky enough to have a large outdoor space, divide and conquer. “Split up your outdoor space into zones for different functions such as eating, drinking, entertaining, and relaxing,” say Chris and Peyton Lambton of HGTV’s My New Old House. “At this home, the wood porch houses a grilling station and bar for entertaining, and the dining area sits adjacent on slate pavers.” You can also create special spaces for kids and/or adults to play outdoor games, a bonfire zone, appetizer and dessert areas, and don’t forget to designate an area in the entryway of your home for guests to wipe shoes.
Keep Things Natural
Mix indoor and outdoor, natural materials so it won’t feel like a huge shift as you move from the house to the patio and back again. “A balanced combination of rattan, wood, concrete, ceramic, glass, or metal, will give an outdoor space a natural, collected feel and connect the interior the exterior,” says Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe.
Light It Up
Don’t spend those lazy summer nights in the dark. Make your outdoor space a place to spend time with friends and family well into the night. “Lighting is key,” says interior designer Andrew Suvalsky. “If your patio is a completely open space where you can’t hang lighting, then place indoor-outdoor lamps around your space.”