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Three Tips to Creating an Outdoor Living Space

Since we live in New Jersey, the time we get to hang out and enjoy the outdoors is somewhat limited due to weather. Although our outdoor living space was OK, it wasn’t conducive for spending a lot of time outdoors in the summer heat.

In the last few years, we turned our attention to the decks and most recently, added an outdoor fire pit area to an unused, debris accumulating area in the yard. I love how it’s coming together and look forward to sharing these areas with you in more detail over the next few weeks.

Are you thinking about refreshing your outdoor living spaces? Here’s a few tips to get you started:

Find Inspiration

When creating a outdoor living space, it’s important to consider a number of factors that include needs, wants, ability, affordability and lifestyle. For example, we’d love to have a pool. Unfortunately, we can’t add one because our property is built out and there is no room for it. Since we can’t have a pool, we focused on creating areas that felt cozy, comfortable, and inviting.

Before designing a space, look for inspiration that will meet your goals, style and provide you with an overall vibe. There are several great sources of inspiration such as Pinterest, Google, Instagram, Facebook, Magazines, Television, friends, family, etc. Create a mood board or keep a file of photos of spaces you love so you can refer to it and try to mirror it when you pull your space together.

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The upper deck after planting my container gardens.

Plow & Hearth

Adding Furniture and Other Big Ticket Items

Once you determine the look and vibe you want to achieve, it’s time to start shopping! Whether it’s using what you have, shopping home, online, or antique stores, visiting flea markets or garage sales, there are ways to refresh and decorate within any budget.

Before making purchases, consider how you intend to use the outdoor living space. How many people will regularly use it? How will you accommodate guests? Will the space be used for dining? Do you need a dining space or will you use it more as a living space? Should it be both?

What We Did

As I mentioned earlier, we have a two tiered deck. The lower deck is used as a living space with outdoor white wicker furniture that we’ve had since we moved in. The wicker furniture includes a settee, two rocking chairs and a coffee table. While I’d love to update and eplace this set with something different, we are making it work for now. To make the space feel more like a living room, I purchased this outdoor fireplace on Amazon with accumulated points. See Sunjoy 35.4″ x 23.6″ x 56.6″ Elson Slate and Steel Fireplace – Black Bronze, Large (paid link). It feels so cozy out there on a cool summer night with that fireplace!

The upper deck houses our dining table and chairs. Before refreshing this area, our outdoor dining set was very old and rusting out. We originally wanted to replace it with wrought iron furniture. As much as I love the look of wrought iron, it was out of our budget and not as comfortable as I would like. I poured over Pinterest for inspiration and was inspired to go with a wood table and wicker chairs. To save money, I found a wood farmhouse table on Facebook Marketplace for $50 that I refinished with outdoor deck stain so it could withstand the elements.

To accompany the table, I decided on these large, beautiful and super comfortable outdoor wicker chairs from Pier 1. Our table is quite large, so we are able to accommodate six good-sized chairs. If we need the space when guests come over, we bring the other wicker chairs up from the lower deck or add a few folding chairs. It’s worked out really well so far and it feels like we are at a country club when we hang out here.

To combat the blazing hot sun that pelts this deck all day long, we added a gazebo over the table from Lowe’s. This was a total game changer because now, we can be outside any time of day, even in the rain! The deck is significantly cooler now and we are out there All. The. Time.

My little shadow Bodie wanted to help style the pic. That large green plant is a philodendron. I bought it about three years ago from Lowe’s when it was small with five leaves. It LOVES to summer outdoors and you can’t beat the tropical feel of the large green leaves. It is a super easy plant to grow.

Adding a Vibe: Cozy, Comfort and Warmth

Let’s face it, if it’s not a comfortable spot, neither you or your guests will want to hang out there much. Is it a place you can kick back and relax? Consider adding some outdoor cushions and pillows to create more comfortable seating and a relaxing atmosphere. Have some blankets available and ready for those cool summer nights.

To anchor a living space and add warmth, consider adding an outdoor area rug. They have come a long way in the last few years and are relatively inexpensive. Not to mention, there are so many designs and patterns to choose from! We recently added one to the upper deck and my dogs love laying on it under the table.

In addition to cushions, blankets and outdoor rugs, I love to add some texture and dimension using baskets, birdhouses, terracotta, pottery or other natural elements to break up some of the greenery. I also add some outdoor lighting that includes lanterns and string lights to create a warm, cozy glow during evening hangs.

Enjoying the fruits of my labor with a glass of Chardonnay and my weekend pants. (LOL)

Plow & Hearth

Plants and Flowers

Where outdoor living spaces are concerned, plants and flowers are necessary! They are beautiful to look at, warm up living spaces and create a relaxed, summery vibe.

Visit your local nursery to see what’s suitable for your growing area. Do you need shade or sun-loving plants? I love planting large containers for the backyard decks. They are easier to maintain than smaller containers because they do not dry out as easily. Each year, I choose a different color theme depending on what speaks to me at the nursery. Most years, I am drawn to purples and white, but this year, pink is where it’s at!

In addition to adding some flowers, bring your houseplants outside to summer. Not only will you appreciate the tropical feel they lend, but your houseplants will reward you with abundant growth and good health. To learn more about how to summer houseplants, see Easy Houseplant Care Tips.

Even if you lack a green of thumb, there is a plant or flower that will fit your climate as well as your maintenance abilities. Not sure what to use? Ask me! I’m happy to help you add some plants and flowers to your living spaces.

Shade Container I recently planted. I’ll blog some container recipes but don’t be afraid to add color and texture with foliage. These pink and white caladiums are gorgeous! They were the inspiration behind the pink theme for the backyard this year.
Notice the color and texture from the leaf shapes and foliage of this container planting. I just found these lanterns at Homegoods. I picked up some indoor/outdoor battery operated candles to use in them. I’m not sure if I’m keeping them in this spot but I love how they look and wanted to grab them when I saw them at Homegoods.
Geranium Container Planting
My happy girl Koda hanging out with me. The philodenrum is behind her and she’s modeling my new outdoor area rug from Boutique Rugs.

Final Thoughts

Creating an outdoor living space does not have to break the bank and can be done over time. We’ve been slowly adding little touches here and there to make our living spaces feel more cozy and inviting.

If budget is a concern, consider breaking it up into phases so you work on it little by little. Shop garage sales, flea markets and even your own home to save money. There is no right or wrong way to create a space that you will love and enjoy!

Thank you so much for following along! I hope you have a wonderful, happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend. Please leave your ideas, comments & more below or contact me here. Be sure to find me, @bricksnblooms, on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram! Today is going to be a great day and I hope you enjoy it! xo

Plow & Hearth

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  1. Looks so inviting. Hope you have nice weather over the holiday weekend to enjoy the beautiful spaces. ?