Welcome to Your Home Outdoors, our summertime series on tips and tricks that'll help you live your best life outside―no matter the size of your space! So pull up a chair, grab a glass of something icy-cold, and join us.
Whether you live somewhere winter doesn’t visit, or somewhere the cold will start making an appearance toward the end of fall, this year has a lot of enjoy-the-outdoors potential left. One of the best places to enjoy is your own backyard. Maybe your space is sprawling, the yard behind your suburban or rural home. Maybe it’s compact, the allotted section of peace and privacy behind your urban apartment. Whatever it is, it’s all yours, and it has the power to be an everyday escape as well as the ultimate spot to entertain friends and family. All you have to do is make it your own.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite patio, garden, and yard design ideas, from easy to involved, teeny to expansive. These aren’t your standard plastic and wicker furniture, umbrella-table setups. These unique approaches are genius ways to channel your own little paradise through thoughtful touches like chandeliers and swing seating. Read on, find your favorite, and don’t forget to invite us to your next outdoor dinner party.
If you have a shed just sitting around housing things you don't use anymore, do yourself and that shed a favor and give it a new purpose. Free yourself of that clutter and you'll be left with a charming little space to convert into a sort of grown-up treehouse. A fresh coat of paint, some shelves and wall decor, and a table with chairs will give you the option to enjoy the outdoors even if it's a gray or blisteringly hot day.
Don’t deprive your outdoor space of luxury just because it’s, well, outdoors. This is your new oasis, after all. Pick a neutral palette that feels fresh and calming, and stick to three main areas of invigorating comfort for decor: warm lighting, lush greenery, and tons of cozy throw pillows and blankets.
A few glamorous touches can make even a simple patio feel like you’re living in a magazine spread. This is especially helpful if you’ve got a small area and tight budget. Accent wooden furniture with pillows and throws in pretty textures and prints, and don’t be afraid to cover a coffee table in bountiful DIY centerpieces. A statement piece like a chandelier pulls the whole look together.
Think outside the patio dining set. A handful of mismatched vintage chairs around a bistro table, surrounded by beloved antique finds that are all tied together by a common palette (think all pastel or all neutral), sets the stage for a romantic garden-party vibe even if you’re just enjoying a cup of coffee and the newspaper in the morning.
Fresh and Monochrome
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a precisely matched outdoor setting, done in black and white with pops of stripes. This is for the modernist, the contemporary art lover, the minimalist, or all of the above. Keep all furniture monochrome and choose decor accents that are either perfectly plain or sharply printed.
A few switches for your deck or yard decor can permanently capture that rustic Pinterest-worthy atmosphere. Dare to place a substantial dining room table outside with simpler wooden chairs and benches, and add runners and throws in linens and crochets. Finish with rich clusters of flowers in tiny vases, and make the whole look glow at night with candles.
When midcentury furniture, mod graphics, and pastel pops meet, your outdoor space feels magically transformed into a Miami poolside retreat. If you can’t go the tiled floor route, add print to a sleek setting in the form of table runners and seat cushions, and work in a bright color wherever possible.
What if you could feel whisked away to a tropical cloud nine every time you stepped outside? Go less tiki barbecue and more Bora Bora with coordinated wooden furniture, straw awnings, lots of plant life, and a playful twist like swing seating around the table to make any day feel like a vacation.
Embrace the joy of sitting around the campfire (s’mores optional, but recommended) in a very chic way. Make a fire pit the centerpiece of your backyard and then build out with seating that’s inspired by mountain cabin living, while being utterly refined and contemporary, like geometric woven chairs instead of the old Adirondack standbys.
Go ahead and get as far away from plastic lawn furniture as you possibly can. If your home is your castle, then there’s no reason your backyard can’t follow the lead of the gardens at Versailles. Furnish your space with claw-footed couches and chairs, lush poufs, accents in gold, and floral arrangements. Set up under an awning or in a partially enclosed sunroom to keep things safe from the weather.
A trip into well-traveled territory will really shake up your tried-and-true deck, patio, or yard, so look to the ornate yet relaxing ambience of Moroccan decor. Swing and cocoon seats, tasseled throws, printed pillows, and plants create a little utopia that brings a faraway retreat to your doorstep.
Wherever you live, you can treat your outdoor area like the garden of an English countryside cottage. Find a clearing or create the effect of one by adding trees and plants, and then center the clearing with a wrought-iron table and chairs in a pale, pretty hue. Candlesticks and a couple of bud vases seal the quaint and quiet deal.
There’s still plenty of time left this year to turn your outdoor space into a personal oasis. Which of these styles do you most associate with? Tell us in the comments.