18 Top Outdoor Living Space Ideas to Elevate Your Summer Experience
Summer is a prime time to embrace outdoor entertaining. Grilling for the family, hosting barbeques with friends, and alfresco dining in your outdoor living space are all amazing ways to take advantage of blue skies and warm sunshine.
Having the space is one thing, but designing it is another. Whether you have a porch, poolside, patio, deck, or balcony, there’s much to consider. You’ll need creative garden furniture ideas, a new outdoor cooker, or even landscaping inspiration. Read on for 18 modern outdoor living space ideas to make your next summer gathering one for the books.
1. Bring the Dining Room Outside
An outdoor dining table is one of the most popular garden seating ideas. Your backyard living space just won’t be complete without a ready-to-go space to sit, eat, and drink. Plus, there are so many outdoor dining sets to choose from!
The one above is a round teak table, but you can also opt for a larger, 6-seat dining set if you have a larger patio or deck. If you’re short on space, consider a compact bistro set for two people.
2. Invest in Weatherproof Fabric
Choose a weatherproof outdoor fabric that's designed to stay looking fresh for years. Consider especially durable fabric materials for your chairs, such as rope or rattan. For the table, opt for hardy materials like aluminium or wood. The modern set pictured above is made with special outdoor fabric and beautiful teak wood—so while it's built to last, it doesn't skimp on style, either.
3. Zone off the Space
If you have a large deck, patio, or back garden, you'll want to clearly define your seating and dining areas. Outdoor living spaces appear more thoughtfully designed when you "zone off" certain areas. For example, you can use a pergola to neatly cover and define your dining table, lounging nook, or entertainment area. Privacy screens, trellises, rockeries, and awnings are other effective options.
4. Create a Focal Point
Remember not to overcrowd the area if you’re creating different zones for your outdoor living space. Create one main focal point that draws the eye.
If you don’t want your seating or dining space to be the focal point, other ideas include a sculpture, a central tree, or even a stylish water feature.
5. Use Multiple Levels
Photo by Tile Merchant Ireland
A multi-level patio or raised deck is far from a design issue; instead, it's a great opportunity to get creative with your outdoor arrangement. You can use the different levels to help create the distinct "zones" we mentioned earlier and link the levels together with beautiful stone or wooden steps. To make the levels look more cohesive, consider using similar paving materials throughout.
6. Add a Pizza Oven
Having a pizza oven in your outdoor space can provide many benefits beyond just the delicious pizzas you can make.
A pizza oven can add a unique feature to your outdoor space. Whether it’s a smaller portable pizza oven or a larger stainless steel oven, it will make the area look all the more modern. Plus, you won’t be limited to making pizzas. You can roast vegetables, bake bread, or cook meats and seafood, all with a delicious wood-fired flavour. This versatility makes it an excellent investment for any outdoor entertainer.
Plus, cooking with a pizza oven encourages socialisation. It provides a unique and interactive experience for guests to participate in, whether it's by helping prepare the food or simply enjoying the delicious results.
7. Set Up a Grill Station
A grill is a garden summer staple. With a grill in your garden, you can easily prepare a healthy, flavoursome meal for yourself or a group of friends and family. The cooking options are nearly endless: from meats and vegetables to fish and even fruit.
Grilling is often faster and more convenient than cooking indoors, as it allows you to cook your food directly on the heat source. Plus, there's that deliciously unique smoky flavour. You can also avoid heating up your home by cooking outdoors on a hot summer day. Hosting summer barbecues can be a fantastic way to build relationships and create lasting memories.
By no means does your grill have to be generic-looking. Even this practical item can be integrated with the rest of your outdoor décor. A ceramic grill egg or a larger stone barbecue are just two of many style options.
8. Kick Back at the Bar
If you truly want to transform your garden or balcony into a luxury outdoor living space, look into an outdoor bar set.
A modern outdoor set like the teak bar table above is upscale, trendy, and a great way to entertain guests. Plush seat cushions and a built-in tabletop firepit are lavish touches that will keep guests wanting to stay outside and enjoy drinks, conversation, and laughs well into the evening.
9. Keep it Functional
Photo by Steven Ungermann
With all this talk of exciting new design choices, it’s important to remember to keep your outdoor living space functional. Especially if you’re working with limited space – like a small balcony – you’ll want to make the space multifunctional.
Before you choose your furniture, think about what kind of outdoor entertaining you want to do. Do you want to host movie nights? Prioritise a big sofa set and space for an outdoor movie screen or TV. Do you want to show off your grilling chops? Set aside room for a new grill setup and dining set instead.
An outdoor kitchen can be a focal point, but it may be more functional to have the outdoor appliances tucked away so the loungers and other furniture have the spotlight.
10. Mix Up Materials
Looking for some exciting ways to elevate the design of your outdoor living area? Mix and match materials to your heart’s content.
Different coloured tiles, outdoor rugs, and bright accent pillows are great places to start. Don’t feel limited to one texture. Wicker furniture looks great next to both wood and metal, for example. If you’re not sure everything will come together, try making a mood board with pictures of the different materials side-by-side before committing to making purchases.
11. Have a Separate Structure for the Outdoor Kitchen
Photo by Arcwind
While it can be super convenient to have your grill, sink, pizza oven, and dining table right outside your back door, you may also want to consider having a separate structure for your outdoor kitchen.
A separate structure for an outdoor kitchen island makes the outdoor dining area feel self-contained and separated from the rest of the house. Consider a luxury pergola with a slatted roof or a gazebo that’s just a short walk away from the house.
12. Anchor the Space With an Area Rug
To make your backyard feel like an outdoor living room, tie the space together with an area rug.
A cobble grey rug helps to anchor the large parasol above the seating area, making the deck furniture feel more like a unit. An area rug is also a great way to add more colour or texture to the space.
13. Make it Comfy
If you’ll be cooking, entertaining, and hosting parties outside all summer, you’ll also need to think about comfort. Where will guests be sitting, and how can you make the seating areas plush and inviting?
An excellent way to upgrade the comfiness of your outdoor space is with a large corner sofa set. Everyone will be able to lounge and converse around a coffee table. Or, if you want multiple smaller sofas, consider two three-seat sofas that face each other. Finally, don’t forget plush outdoor accent pillows and scatter cushions for ultimate comfort.
14. Look for Modern Lighting
There are so many options when it comes to lighting an outdoor living room. However, the open-air setting allows you to elevate your design with truly unique outdoor lighting options.
Check out hanging fire displays like the one above for a fascinatingly beautiful light fixture. Or, if you love the look of candles, consider elevating a candle with a gravity candle pole. For soft, sustainable mood lighting, opt for a solar-powered table lamp.
15. Provide Additional Seating Options
Whether it’s a corner sofa or a sizeable U-shaped lounge sofa, you may already have a plan for a central seating area. However, if you have an expansive outdoor space, consider providing additional seating options.
A sun lounger or two by the pool will invite guests to soak up the sun. A hanging chair in the garden or under the shade of your porch is another nice touch. Soft ottomans can also double as seating options. These additional seating areas will make your garden an ultra-relaxing space with a spot to lounge around every corner.
16. Take Advantage of Tile
Tiles are an excellent choice for outdoor flooring since they’re durable, easy to clean, and come in so many different colours and designs. You can choose from natural stone, porcelain, or ceramic tiles, depending on your preference.
If you have an outdoor kitchen, consider using tiles as a backsplash. This can add a pop of colour and texture to your space while protecting your walls from cooking splatters and stains.
Or, consider using tiles that introduce a bold colour or pattern to create a focal point in your space. You can use tiles to create intricate designs, adding a touch of elegance, sophistication, and beauty to your outdoor space.
17. Choose the Perfect Fire Pit
A fire pit is a lovely addition to any outdoor space. The right fire pit can be a stunning centrepiece for your outdoor living room, adding visual interest and ambience. You can choose from a wide range of designs and materials to suit your style.
What better way to end a summer barbeque than with an evening gathered around a fire pit? You can roast marshmallows, toast the day, or just sit around the fire and enjoy each other's company as the sun sets and the stars come out. Sitting around a fire pit can create a calming and peaceful atmosphere that encourages relaxation and conversation.
Some are even designed for cooking, allowing you to grill or cook food over an open flame in a free-standing or tabletop fire pit.
18. Create a Poolside Paradise
If you have an empty area by your pool, giving it an upgrade can be a fun and rewarding summer project.
Look into outdoor furniture like a lounger or dining table to place by the pool. Select materials that are durable and suitable for outdoor use, such as waterproof fabric.
Consider incorporating natural elements such as wood or plants to create a calming and inviting atmosphere near your pool. Add some shade with a parasol or two to protect lounging guests from the sun's harsh rays.
If you have a pool house, that’s another prime place to incorporate a complete outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, fridge, sink, pizza oven, and prep space.
Consider adding features to your pool, such as a waterfall, to make the space even more tranquil and relaxing. Finally, provide water-resistant storage containers for towels, sunscreen, and other poolside essentials.
With these outdoor living ideas, you can upgrade your porch, deck, garden, or balcony in time for the warm weather. Seek out design choices that feel the most exciting and practical to you. Make the most of summer this year by setting up a joyful, luxurious space for friends and family to gather and make lasting memories.