37 Backyard Ideas for Outdoor Living Space Design
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.
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.
We recently moved to a new to us 1850 farmhouse sited on 10 acres with expansive gardens, tree sculptures, statues, and outdoor living spaces that are totally amazing.
The bones of each space were there, but we needed to furnish and decorate them to fully enjoy them. And sadly, I couldn’t use all of our former home’s outdoor living furniture in each spot so we were essentially starting from scratch.
So I spent some time revisiting this post to help make it feel warm and inviting.
Here are some backyard ideas to warm up your outdoor living spaces.
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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.
- 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 pretty planters.
- 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. Plants are not fans of being moved around during extreme summer heat.
And we should be relaxing in our backyard living spaces anyway. So I vote for no major work in the summer. Are you with me?
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 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 scorching 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.
If you want to avoid some of the same mistakes I make, read this.
How I Spruced Up the Deck With New Furniture
What I rarely showed on the blog was the lower deck of our former home. Not because I didn’t love it, but because it needed some attention.
We had the same outdoor wicker furniture for like 20 years. It was old, it looked dingy, even after power washing it, and it was time for a change. We almost never sat here.
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 the 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.
And it is a great spot to watch the sunset.
You can get a full tour of my new gardens HERE.
My Favorite Outdoor Living Space Ideas to Cozy Up the Backyard
Whether you are refreshing an outdoor dining or living space, decorating a new one, or maybe adding an outdoor fire pit area, this post has you covered.
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.
At our new home, we have a back porch with curved decking so finding the right furniture was key to enjoying the space.
We knew we wanted a place to sit and enjoy the zen garden and koi pond, but we also wanted enough room to enjoy it with our kids and guests who visit.
After measuring and thinking about how we’d use the space, I purchased this comfortable conversation set that we sit on ALL THE TIME.
It’s so comfortable and completes this outdoor living space.
What do you think?
Here are a few more outdoor living room ideas that I love.
Outdoor Dining Room Ideas
Our deck at the Vermont cabin is a pretty good size, but not as large as the decks at our former 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.
When we are in Vermont, we are out here all the time after a fun day on the lake.
My outdoor dining space in New Jersey is a little different. I wanted to use a large farmhouse table with wicker chairs on our former deck.
To save some money, I found a wood farmhouse table through the 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.
We replaced the top with cedar deck boards that are better suited to the elements.
So if you decide to do get an everyday wood table, make sure you keep it under a protected space like the gazebo we used or use it on a covered porch.
The new dining space in the potager garden worked really well. And in fact, we are reimagining the space in 2023 with more raised garden beds, flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
My husband is building the new raised garden beds. And we’ve worked our outdoor dining space in the design. Because we LOVED dining in the potager garden.
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 cozier.
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 and the larger one under the dining table in the potager garden.
It’s seen better days, so I’m planning to get some new ones for 2023.
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.
I’ve found some fun lanterns, string lights, and walkway/garden lights that work really well and look so pretty!
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. So you’ll want to consider your aesthetic and needs before purchasing containers.
I suggest going with larger vs smaller-sized planters because they retain more moisture so you have to water them less often.
Not to mention they have a greater visual impact on a space.
Lately, I’m loving self-watering planters because it’s much easier to care for planters when you don’t have a drip irrigation system.
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 planter ideas.
Outdoor Planter Design 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.
More Outdoor Living Space Ideas
Do you have an outdoor living space you love? How do you like to decorate your backyard spaces? I would love to know more in the comments below.
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