6 Interior Design Tips for Your Outdoor Living Room
It’s the time of year for barbecues, pool parties and just sitting outside around a fire pit, but is your outdoor living room ready for the lazy, hazy days of summer?
Whether you’re creating an outdoor living space yourself or we’re creating one for you, the perfect design for your outdoor oasis starts with examining your lifestyle.
Do you enjoy cooking outside? Maybe with more than just a grill? What about watching TV? Or how about having your friends and family gathered around a fire with a glass of wine to end the perfect summer day?
A stylish and comfortable outdoor living space with great design should feel like an extension of your indoor living areas. That’s why it’s important to use the same style inside and out. Think of it this way: You’re basically adding extra square footage to your home.
Here are some of our tips for great outdoor living room design:
Divide your outdoor living space into zones
Instead of thinking of your outdoor living area as one big space, break it down into zones. You can even think of it as multiple outdoor rooms. You may want a living space, fire pit area and swimming zone, or an outdoor living room with a separate kitchen and dining area if you plan to cook and eat outside a lot.
Creating these different zones helps maximize your outside space and creates separate areas with distinct purposes: lounging, cooking, eating, activities and more.
Figure out the right outdoor furniture
Once you know what you want in a space, focus on seating. If you’re dividing the area into multiple zones, each area can have different options.
In the living area, consider an outdoor sofa with a chair or two on the side. Around a fire pit, set up multiple chairs to make a cozy spot perfect for conversations. An outdoor dining table is also something you’ll want to consider. And don’t forget an outdoor swing: These really add a touch of whimsy to the space.
If you enjoy watching TV outside with friends and family, you’ll want to maximize seating. One of our clients needed additional seating options for this reason. We created a custom barstool height table made from weather-resistant material that sits behind their outdoor sofa. The height of the table lets people sitting at the bar see over those sitting on the sofa, meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone to watch.
Start with a (large) outdoor rug
Believe it or not, rugs are for outside, too. Just like inside, a rug helps define your living space outside.
But there is one major difference when it comes to outdoor rugs: They must be made from the right kind of fabric. Putting a regular rug outside is a recipe for disaster — and mildew — even if it’s a covered space. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options made with weather-resistant materials that repel water and resist fading in the sun.
Don’t go for a smaller size, either. You want a rug large enough to help ground the space just like you would inside.
Choose weather-resistant fabrics and materials for your outdoor living room furniture
Just like rugs, everything you put outside, from pillows to chairs and tables, must be made from weather-resistant materials.
Choose only performance fabrics for the outdoors. These are made with a special thread that’s dyed all the way through the fabric, not just the top layer, meaning they won’t fade or stain. They also resist mildew. Some of our favorite brands are Sunbrella, Perennials and Inside Out Performance Fabrics.
When it comes to other materials, you’ll want to look for hardy woods like teak and tables made from concrete, stone or metal that won’t rust over time. If you choose teak, we suggest treating it once a year as a way to protect the finish and keep the wood looking new.
Add a fan and curtains to your patio
There’s not always going to be a pleasant breeze on those hot summer days (especially here in Dallas!). Adding a fan can make your outdoor space truly liveable, even in the height of summer by adding that extra airflow.
We also love to use curtains wherever possible. Not only do they provide a resort-like feel, they help enclose your space — making it feel cozier — and keep out the sun. Just remember to use the same weather-resistant fabrics you would use elsewhere outside.
Final interior, er, exterior design touches for outdoor living: Plants, lighting and accessories
Thought you were done designing your outdoor living space? Not quite yet.
Just like you wouldn’t leave your inside surfaces bare from any accessories or artwork, you need final touches outside, too.
Adding lighting to an outdoor living “room” can really help it feel like a secondary living room and make it easier to stay outside long into those summer nights. Lamps can go outside just like any other element, again so long as the material is weather-resistant. If you have a fan, consider one with a light to really brighten up the space when the sun goes down.
If you want something a little more decorative, use outdoor string lights. These are a great way to not only brighten up your space, but make it feel special and almost magical.
Don’t forget the plants. Greenery literally livens up an indoor or outdoor living area and makes it feel more cohesive. You’re already outside, so outdoor plants are the obvious choice. You can also add succulents if you want plants that don’t need quite so much water.
Finally there is artwork. You wouldn’t leave all the walls inside your home completely bare, would you? Of course not. So why would you even think about doing that outside? Adding art and other decor helps tie your outdoor living space together and create that warm, homey feeling that will keep you outside all summer long.
As you can see, there’s not a big difference in creating living areas inside or outside, but there are a number of considerations you must take into account, especially when it comes to fabrics and materials that can stand up to all types of weather.