With spring in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about our outdoor living areas. Do you have an outdoor oasis that you love? Create one you’ll never want to leave with these beautiful backyard ideas.
(This post was updated May 5, 2022)
Whether it’s a living space, dining space, or a fire pit area, cozying up outdoor living spaces is key to enjoying the outdoors in the warmer months.
But how do you cozy things up?
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How Can I Make My Backyard Nicer?
There are a few ways to make the backyard feel more like your own personal outdoor oasis.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- If you don’t already have one, add an outdoor deck, patio or porch area.
- Add texture and dimension to existing outdoor living spaces with an outdoor area rug like THESE.
- Start a new garden. And if you want to start a new garden without breaking your back, try THIS easy method. Or just add a few planters like THIS.
- Decorate outdoor living spaces with accent lighting such as twinkle lights, lanterns and battery operated candles.
- Create stone paths or stepping stone pathways to add cottage garden charm and have easier accessibility to outdoor living spaces.
- Shade areas that receive full sun with a pergola or gazebo like THIS so you can enjoy the outdoors more often.
- Add garden decor such as trellis, obelisks, birdhouses, etc. to add more visual interest.
- To create a relaxing atmosphere, add a water feature such as a pond or fountain.
What Time of Year is the Best to Landscape?
While you can landscape anytime during the year as long as the ground is workable, it’s best to do plantings and move things around in early spring or mid-late fall.
Summer is too hot to garden and do landscaping chores.
Not to mention, plants are not fans of being moved around during extreme summer heat.
37 Backyard Ideas for Outdoor Living Design
When we first moved to our former small 3 bedroom ranch home, the backyard had one deck that had a dark stain.
It was pelted by the sun ALL DAY LONG so we rarely used it during the summer months.
A few years after we first moved in, my husband decided to add on to our existing deck with another level.
So we actually had two decks there – one that we used for dining and the other for sitting.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I LOVED my outdoor dining space on the upper deck in that house.
It was so warm and cozy. And whenever we were out there, it felt like we are hanging out at a country club!
But it wasn’t always that enjoyable.
Even after we refaced the deck and added another level, it was still pelted with hot sun that we could barely sit out there on a hot summer day.
And we tried those market umbrellas, but they just didn’t cool it down enough.
Until we found a gazebo like THIS!
And that was a total game-changer for the upper deck that housed our outdoor dining space.
But I’ve learned so much through the years where backyard living ideas are concerned. I mostly learned through trial and error. But also got ideas from outside inspiration.
How I Spruced Up the Deck With New Furniture
What I rarely showed on the blog was the lower deck. Not because I didn’t love it, but it needed some attention. Because we had the same outdoor wicker furniture for 20 years.
So it was time for a change.
This is what it looked like before.
And here is what it looked after we bought new furniture!
We kept the area rug, but swapped the 18-year-old furniture out for THIS cozy gas firepit and outdoor living room set.
And we LOVE IT!!!
Doesn’t it look so cozy?
We added some houseplants to summer outdoors. And because this space felt cozier, we used it SO MUCH MORE.
So that is the key. Make your outdoor living space feel cozy and welcoming. You’ll enjoy it so much more.
Since moving to our new home, we use this same conversation set on an outdoor patio that overlooks the formal garden.
You can get a full tour of my new gardens HERE.
We haven’t used this set much since moving in, but I’m sure we will spend a lot of time out there watching the sun set over the formal garden as the temperature warms up here in my zone 6a New Jersey garden.
My Favorite Outdoor Living Space Ideas to Cozy Up the Backyard
Whether you are refreshing an outdoor dining or living space or maybe adding an outdoor fire pit area, this post has you covered.
Now that we moved, we needed to purchase a few more pieces so we can enjoy the outdoors here a bit more.
Outdoor Living Room Ideas
If you are looking for outdoor living room ideas, I did a lot of shopping around before I found the right set for the lower deck.
If it would fit, I would love to do an outdoor sectional here. But the deck is octagonal so would not work.
I loved this gorgeous outdoor living room set too.
What do you think?
Here are a few more outdoor living room sets I’m loving now.
Outdoor Dining Room Ideas
Our deck at the Vermont cabin is a pretty good size, but not as large as our decks at home. I wanted to enjoy both a comfortable living and dining room space but couldn’t fit both.
To get the best of both worlds, I found THIS dining room set that could function as both living and dining.
So far it’s worked out really well.
My outdoor dining space in New Jersey is a little different. I wanted to use a large farmhouse table with wicker chairs.
To save some money, I found a wood farmhouse table through Facebook marketplace for $50 that I refinished with outdoor deck stain and sealer so it could withstand the elements.
Isn’t that a bargain for a table?
While this set worked well in our former home, I moved the same table to what will become a potager garden, and the wood table is getting warped from the sun hitting it.
Thus, we need to replace the top with something that is better suited to the elements.
So if you decide to do this, make sure you keep it under a protected space like the gazebo we used or a covered porch.
If you want a similar look to what I’ve done, here are some ideas.
Cozy Up a Backyard Living Space with Outdoor Area Rugs
Regardless of whether it is living or dining, it’s important to add a rug to define the space and make it feel more cozy.
Outdoor area rugs have come a long way, haven’t they?
I had THIS rug on both the upper and lower decks at my house. And I loved it!
Since we moved, I use the smaller rug on the front porch to help define the space under our porch swing.
This is what it looked like in March but I’ll be decking this area out for summer now that the weather is cooperating.
And I’m moving the larger outdoor area rug to use under our dining table in the potager garden (hopefully that will be happening this weekend!)
But I’m thinking about getting THIS one for the Vermont cabin to use under the outdoor dining area.
Here are a few other outdoor area rugs that I’m loving now.
Creating Shade to Define the Space and Enjoy it More
For SO many years, we did not fully enjoy the deck because it gets full sun all day long.
Shade umbrellas did not keep the space cool enough, so we were limited to enjoying it to the evenings in the dead heat of summer.
A few years ago, I found some pre-made gazebos and pergolas and fell in love!
So we bought a pre-made gazebo like this one and it was life-changing.
We are out there all the time now and I swear, it’s like 10 degrees cooler on the deck than the rest of the yard during the summer!
True, we could have built something, but we did not want to build anything else on the deck.
So the pre-made option was the right choice for us. We did not bring it with us here to the new house because we affixed it to the deck so it was stable.
My husband would like to get another one for the potager garden, but I’m not sure I want it there. We’ll see how we use the space over time before doing anything more there.
If you have an outdoor living space that needs some shade too, here are some ideas.
Nothing Says Cozy More than a Night by the Fire Pit
Although we have an outdoor fire pit area at the Vermont cabin, it’s pretty far away from the house up a huge hill.
We still use it, but I wanted to get a small gas one that we could safely enjoy on the deck.
THIS is the one we bought and it works really well! We enjoy the deck so much more now that we have this.
This gas fire pit throws off a good amount of heat and added the right amount of ambiance.
We added four Adirondack chairs around it to for seating. So now, it’s the perfect spot to hang after a fun day on the lake.
Here are some more gas fire pit ideas.
Add a Water Feature to Create a Relaxing Outdoor Living Space
You don’t have to live on a beach or the lake to enjoy the soothing sounds of water!
If you have the space you can add a pond garden.
And if you don’t have the space or budget to go all out?
There are lots of options that you can purchase to get the same effect for little money.
From freestanding fountains for the garden to fountains that can sit on your deck or be mounted on a wall, there are so many ways to add a water feature.
And trust me, you want a water feature. Now that we have one? We feel like we are at a resort and enjoy it every single night!
Here are some water feature ideas to create a backyard haven that rests the mind and spirit.
Mood Lighting Ideas
In addition to our existing outdoor light fixtures, it’s a good idea to add mood lighting for ambiance.
I love to add twinkle lights that brighten up outdoor living spaces without overpowering them with too much light.
To me, you can never have too much twinkle.
And solar lights have come a long way in the last several years.
If you aren’t sure how to extend lighting to outdoor living spaces that are not close to an electrical source, CLICK HERE.
At our new home, there is no shortage of outdoor lighting. The former homeowners add a lot of it. But we will be adding more twinkle lights for ambiance as well as THESE tiki torches around the ponds and pool.
They are nicer than the bamboo looking ones you find everywhere and are pretty inexpensive for what you get.
Ours just arrived but we have not put them outside yet. Pics to come soon!
Here are some of my favorite outdoor lighting finds.
Create an Outdoor Oasis with Outdoor Planters
Every outdoor living space needs a few planters with some gorgeous greenery and flowers. There are so many pretty options out there to choose from.
I suggest going with larger vs smaller sized planters because they retain more moisture so you have to water less often.
Not to mention they have a greater visual impact on a space.
Lately, I’m loving self-watering planters. I bought these beautiful self-watering urns to flank my garage and love them!
Since moving to the new house, I need to get another set because we have a second porch area that needs urns.
Right now, I’m using fiberglass terracotta pots I had on hand, but I definitely need to get urns for this space.
Here are some of my favorite outdoor planter ideas.
Outdoor Planter Ideas
Looking for ways to pot up some plants to cozy up your outdoor living spaces.
Click on the photo caption below for more inspiration.
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Enjoy your day! xoxo