How to Style a Cozy Outdoor Space for Entertaining

Over the last decade, outdoor areas have increasingly become an additional “room” that homeowners pay attention to. Today’s backyards feature more than plastic furniture that your thighs stick to and a simple dining table with an umbrella. The options for furniture, accessories and covers have increased exponentially.

With Southern areas of the country able to enjoy their outdoor spaces for most of the year, and those in the Northern regions wanting to squeeze every drop of summer enjoyment out of their limited seasons, we love this attention to the outdoors!

We recently helped a client create a bright and cozy outdoor living area as part of a larger home project. Here are our pro tips for creating an outdoor space that works well for you and that you love.

Avoid “Design Isolation”

The first thing we do when designing an outdoor area is consider the overall aesthetic of the home. It would be weird to go full boho eclectic outside of a brick colonial, or antique-y traditional outside of an ultra-modern ranch. We don’t want to create something completely novel and different outside that isn’t echoed inside.

When one space is a completely different style than the others, we like to call this “design isolation.” You want the outdoor area to be an extension of your interior – the overall aesthetic – colors, style, make it consistent.

That doesn’t mean that you can do something a little outside the box or a little more daring in your outdoor area. Here, we used some bright pinks, coral, and yellows that weren’t necessarily woven throughout the interior of the home, but that complimented the bold teal of great room beautifully.

Particularly if your outdoor area is highly visible from the inside, pay attention to how outdoor/indoor mirror each other. What can you see through the windows?

Consider How You Will Use the Space

Before investing in furniture or other accessories, think about how you most like to use your outdoor space. Here are a few things you may want to consider:

  • Do you want a living room-style conversation area?
  • Do you need a place to enjoy meals outside?
  • If you entertain frequently, how much seating do you need?
  • How much privacy is there? Do you want to add more?
  • Where does the sun hit at different times throughout the day?

Selecting Outdoor Furniture

Just like your choice of furniture anchors the interior design of your home, outdoor furniture is also a foundational piece of the design.

Outdoor furniture comes in a wide variety of materials and styles, and cushions provide an opportunity to show off your color palette, while also wanting to make you sit and stay a while!

If you are considering a high-quality conversational set to anchor your outdoor room, you may also want to consider more portable, temporary seating that you can add and subtract easily to fit different groups of people.

Choose a Color Palette

This deck was surrounded by lots of lush, dark foliage so we wanted to brighten things up and add some color through the textiles and accessories!

The teal in the rug mirrors the bold teal used on the focal wall of the great room. Then we complimented with pinks, yellows, oranges and even some light blue.

It isn’t matchy-matchy with the interior, but it plays well with the teal inside. Whether you are looking in from the outside, or outside looking in, all of the colors and styles play well together.

Add Layers, Accessories, and Lighting

You could just buy a nice dining or conversational set and call it good, but why stop there? Adding pillows, blankets, and fun lighting brings the design home.

If you like to spend evenings outside, you might not want your bright porch lights shining in your face. You can supplement with lanterns and string lights to create mood lighting.

We incorporated a variety of textures here: the teak furniture contrasts a little bit with the rattan side table, and various patterns and textures of the textiles.

We also used the flowers in the various planters to play off the paisley textiles, bringing it all together.

You can take a complete house tour here, but flora and fauna are woven throughout the interior of the home too, making the indoors and outdoors flow nicely together.

What is your design style?

It defines your home and creates a set of building blocks to create from. It is a useful tool to determine various design aspects like color palettes, finishes, or patterns… you name it. Take the quiz to find out what style best fits you!