Top 6 Ideas for Decorating Your Outdoor Living Area

Few things bring me more joy than bringing a stylish design to an outdoor space. Sometimes, we get called in to overhaul landscapes and hardscapes well past their prime. In these cases, the area often looks so chaotic and run down that it’s barely even functional. Other times, our canvas is the remnants of a newly finished construction site. Whatever the circumstances, the process of coming up with a gorgeous and practical design for outdoor living and then seeing that design comes to life is incredibly rewarding.

But do you know what’s almost just as fun? For me, it’s taking the time to actually style that outdoor living space. It’s always an honor when a client selects me to help out with this process. Maybe it’s the fact that it reminds me of arranging my dollhouse furniture as a child, or maybe it’s because I just love taking a cool outdoor space and turning it into something that truly feels like home. Honestly, it’s both. It just gives me a special thrill and makes me feel all warm inside. Because I love this process so very much, today’s post is dedicated to offering simple but highly effective tips for taking your outdoor living area to the next level with the right design elements. 

Begin with the Initial Design

If possible, I recommend working simultaneously with a landscaping contractor and stylist. This will help you narrow down how you expect to use the space and ensure the finished hardscape is compatible with that vision. For example, if you’ve always dreamt of a cozy garden reading nook, you’ll want to collaborate with your contractor to design and install that physical space. At the same time, a stylist can help you consider the type of furniture you’d like to place there and whether or not it will actually fit.

Design with the Space in Mind

One of the biggest problems I encounter with landscape and hardscape design is that people absolutely overwhelm their space with furnishings. You need to really have an understanding of the space that you have to work with and sit down with a designer to create spacing and a flow that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Your stylist will offer a second set of eyes, an objective opinion, and a whole lot of experience. They’ll help you to visualize how your family and your guests will enter your outdoor living area and what the path of travel will look like. This will help you to choose pieces that match the scale of the environment and come up with a welcoming layout that will lend itself to relaxation, connection, and joy. 

Honor Your Unique Style

Once you’ve got a good layout in mind and have settled on the proper sizes and dimensions for each space, it’s time to pick the furnishings and décor. One strange phenomenon that I’ve noticed throughout the years is that people tend to establish an outdoor space with a completely different aesthetic than that of their indoor design. I think people often feel pressured to use the same type of furnishings they’ve seen in other people’s yards and forget that this area is an extension of their own personal living space. As such, take this as an opportunity to connect your interior style, home architecture, and unique personality with your outdoor environment. 

Don’t Forget Textiles

In my opinion, people tend to underuse textiles in their outdoor living spaces. Although textiles do need to be stored during inclement weather and must be replaced over time, they’re still a really important part of creating a warm, comfortable, inviting environment for you and your guests. Outdoor rugs can really tie a space together and create boundaries between different “rooms.” For example, well-placed rugs can establish a visual distinction between your dining area and your conversational seating area. Plush, colorful outdoor pillows and cushions make seating more plush and cozy, add texture and color to the space, and can further help you to tie elements of your indoor décor with your outdoor design. 

Consider Lighting

To maximize usage of your outdoor living space, it’s critical that you spend time considering your outdoor lighting. This will enable you to host evening get-togethers and continue enjoying the space, even during the winter when the sun sets earlier. Lighting for your outdoor living area goes beyond the low-voltage lighting that you’ll have running through the remainder of your landscape. Although these are incredibly important for safety and functionality, your living environment should offer warm, rich lighting that creates a rich atmosphere and excellent ambiance. If you have a sturdy pergola or are designing a space beneath a second-story deck, you might consider a stunning chandelier or unique overhead piece. I also love the look of wall sconces and candles. In recent years, I’ve been noticing a growing trend where homeowners are using outdoor floor lamps and table lamps. This really creates a cozy environment where you and your loved ones will want to continue to lounge and mingle. 

Special Touches

I always encourage clients to leave some room for personal touches and for seasonality to appear. For instance, you may find joy in using large ceramic vases to plant gorgeous annuals and perennials. You might also consider planting a potted tree to offer shade and to break up the space further. Honestly, there are few better ways to establish mood than with a statement pottery piece. Finally, cute outdoor nick-nacks (when used sparingly) can also bring your personality to the table.

Creating a spectacular design for your outdoor living space is incredibly fun, but it can also become a little overwhelming. For more style tips or advice, please reach out to me at Charter Oak Landscape Development, or follow our Instagram (@charteroaklandscape).