Our outdoor spaces have become even more valuable to us over the last couple of years, and with the sunshine finally here, we are looking for outdoor living room ideas to make the most of it. Regardless of the size of your garden, patio, or outdoor space, you want it to feel like an extension of your home with a comfortable, relaxing vibe. Start with seating and consider how you will use your space. If you love entertaining, a dining set or a large built-in banquette may be a good choice. If you prefer to sunbathe alone, a daybed or sun lounger may be more suitable. Whatever you choose, be sure to dedicate similar planning and research time to your outdoor space as you would your indoor living spaces. This will hopefully become the area of your home you use the most this summer.
The experts have spoken: transforming your garden into an outdoor living space has never been more important. With tips on zoning and furniture, get started on your garden makeover today.
1. Layer up seating with soft furnishings
Create the ultimate spot for sundowners in your outdoor living room by layering up benches and armchairs with plenty of cushions. A natural palette of neutrals and terracotta tones will work in almost any outdoor space, and the addition of floor cushions will add to the relaxed vibe and provide extra seating for impromptu guests.
2. Open up the space with a mirror
Mirrors can be a great addition to any garden, no matter the size. They have the power to transform the space and make it seem bigger. Mirrors can also reflect hidden areas of the garden, giving you more to enjoy. Hang a mirror above your seating area or in the middle of a narrow space to create a focal point, just as you would in your indoor living room.
3. Lay a rug over decking to add colour
If your outdoor space is lacking color from plants and flowers, a great way to introduce more is with an outdoor rug. While a heavier blanket will work better on a lawn or grassy area, a rug is the perfect addition to a patio or decked space. Outdoor rugs are made with different fibers than their indoor counterparts, so they should withstand most weather throughout the summer but will need to be rolled up and stored over winter.
4. Combine a dining and living space
During sunny days, we all want to spend time outdoors, whether eating, working or reading. To make the most of your time, create an open-plan living and dining space with bench seating for family meals, armchairs and coffee tables for reading, and layered rugs to keep you cozy during sunset.
5. Utilise a parasol to keep things cosy
A parasol is not only useful for blocking out direct sunlight during the day, but it can also create a cozy and intimate atmosphere in the evening. It serves as a “roof” for your outdoor living space, trapping warmth from candles or patio heaters and providing protection in case of a sudden shower. This makes it one of the most straightforward and efficient outdoor living room ideas.
6. Choose outdoor furniture that can be used inside too
Although outdoor furniture is designed for outdoor use, it can also be used indoors. Mary Bunting, a buyer at QVC, recommends choosing furniture that looks great in both a living room and a conservatory. Materials that are suitable for outdoor use are more durable and can be left outside, but can also be used indoors. Rattan, cane, and woven furniture are all popular choices that can be used both inside and outside throughout the year.
7. Break up the space with levels
Retaining walls can be expensive, but adding levels to a flat garden can add interest and excitement. Excavating a pond can provide the soil to create a mound. Being creative and limiting materials taken off-site saves money and reduces environmental impact.
8. Create a seamless flow
Tom suggests that connecting various links between spaces can improve the sense of rhythm and flow. He recommends using a restricted range of hard materials or integrating key plants between different areas of planting. However, Selina Lake disagrees and says that different zones can have different planting schemes. For instance, scented herbs for a relaxing space, wild grasses and wildflowers for a charming dining space, or a Scandi-style seating area with all-white flowers.
9. Extend the interior decor
Adding furniture and accessories to your outdoor living area can create a comfortable and inviting space. Choosing weather-resistant materials such as rattan, wicker, and metal will ensure that your furniture will withstand the elements. Outdoor cushions and pillows are a great way to add color and comfort to your seating. Woven rugs made of materials such as jute or bamboo can provide texture and warmth to a grassless garden or patio.
10. Define with edges and boundaries
Tom suggests creating an interesting and varied boundary with a mix of elements, such as planting, screening, and sculptural features. This can add visual interest to the space and potentially reduce costs compared to traditional boundary options. Linear meter rates for fencing or other traditional boundaries can add up quickly, especially in larger gardens.
11. Illuminate with an outdoor lighting scheme
That’s a great point. It’s important to strike a balance with outdoor lighting and avoid overdoing it. Too much lighting can detract from the natural beauty of the garden and create a harsh, artificial feel. It’s a good idea to opt for warm, subtle lighting that enhances the atmosphere and mood of the space. Uplighting trees is a great way to add a touch of drama to the garden, while also providing ambient lighting.
12. Enjoy alfresco mealtimes by creating an outdoor dining area
Considering the location is indeed crucial when planning an outdoor dining area. It’s important to think about the time of day and how the sunlight will affect the space. Also, the proximity to the house can impact how often you’ll use the space. Creating a journey to the dining area can add an exciting dimension to the garden, but ultimately, the charm and atmosphere of the spot should be a top priority.
13. Add shade to make the space more versatile
Adding an outdoor umbrella or retractable canopy is another option for providing shade in an outdoor living area. It can also be a good idea to consider the positioning of trees and shrubs in the garden, as they can provide natural shade to specific areas.
14. Be thoughtful with hard landscaping
Tom’s advice is to think creatively when it comes to connecting different areas of your outdoor space, and consider using materials beyond traditional paving. Loose and informal hard landscaping, such as a planted gravel pathway, stepping-stones or floating timber boardwalk, can be a great option. Not only can it add interest and texture to the garden, but it can also be a more cost-effective solution.
15. Purposely use paint outside
It’s important to keep in mind that painting an old, weathered wall could actually highlight imperfections and make it look worse. It’s always a good idea to consider the condition of the surface before deciding whether or not to paint it.
16. Create a sense of calm with a water feature
Installing a water feature can definitely enhance the ambiance of an outdoor space. There are many options for water features that require minimal installation or setup, such as standalone fountains or self-contained water features that can be easily connected to an outdoor tap. These types of water features can be a great addition to a garden, creating a calming and soothing atmosphere with the sound of running water.
17. Give your outdoor space a focal point
Adding a focal point to your outdoor living area can enhance the visual interest of your space. Tables, side tables, vintage metal folding tables, and trees are great options, according to Selina and Tom. A tree can be a fantastic sculptural element that is cost-effective, while a fire pit can make a great focal point and add warmth to the space, as suggested by Dani.
18. Add a fire pit to make the space suitable for all seasons
A fire pit is indeed a great addition to any outdoor living room. It not only adds warmth and coziness but also serves as a focal point, creating a gathering spot for family and friends. Fire pits come in a variety of designs and sizes, from portable options that can be moved around to permanent installations that can be built into a patio or garden. It’s important to consider safety measures when using a fire pit, such as ensuring it is placed on a non-flammable surface and keeping a fire extinguisher or water source nearby. With the right precautions, a fire pit can enhance your outdoor living room experience and create cherished memories.
How do you make a good outdoor living space?
Tom, Selina, and Dani all offer valuable insights into creating a beautiful and functional outdoor space. Tom emphasizes the importance of balance between hard and soft landscaping, while also considering the needs of local wildlife. Selina suggests investing in comfortable furniture and using tall flowering plants to create a sense of enclosure. Dani recommends adding shelter and heat to maximize the use of the space throughout the year. Ultimately, the key is to consider your own needs and preferences, while also keeping in mind the practical considerations of maintenance and longevity.
What is garden zoning and why is it a good idea?
Zoning is a great way to make the most of your outdoor space and create distinct areas for different activities. To zone your garden, consider dividing it up into areas for dining, relaxing, entertaining, or sunbathing. You can use furniture, plants, or hardscaping elements like pergolas or screens to create visual cues for each zone.
Tom suggests that zoning can also provide intrigue and excitement in the garden by creating destinations to draw you out into the space. For example, you could create a secluded seating area surrounded by plants or a small garden room tucked away in a corner of the garden.
To define the different zones, Dani suggests using festoon poles and lights or solar path lights in planters to create pathways. This can help to guide people through the garden and highlight different areas.
What furniture materials are best for outdoor living room ideas?
Additionally, Tom suggests considering recycled materials for a more sustainable and eco-friendly option. ‘Recycled plastic decking boards or outdoor furniture made from recycled materials are great choices. They require minimal maintenance and can last for years,’ he says. ‘Another sustainable option is using reclaimed materials, such as old railway sleepers or bricks, which add character and charm to a garden.’
How do I make an outdoor living room feel cosy, inviting and comfortable?
Layering and coordination are key to creating a cohesive and comfortable outdoor living space. Choosing a centerpiece and building around it can also help to create a focal point and tie the space together. And adding plants and lighting can really bring life and ambiance to the area. Thanks for sharing these ideas!
What interior design tips I can use outside too?
‘Remember that your garden should reflect your personality and lifestyle. If you like to entertain, then invest in a large dining table and chairs, but if you prefer a more relaxed space, then opt for a comfy sofa or daybed. And don’t forget to add personal touches, such as artwork, sculptures, or even a feature wall. Your garden should be a place that makes you happy and reflects who you are.’
Outdoor living rooms are a wonderful way to extend your living space and make the most of your garden. With the 18 outdoor living room ideas presented in this article, you can create a comfortable and stylish outdoor space that’s perfect for relaxing, entertaining, and enjoying the beauty of nature.
From cozy seating areas to outdoor kitchens and fire pits, there are many ways to incorporate an outdoor living room into your garden. By selecting the right furniture, lighting, and decor, you can create an inviting and functional space that reflects your personal style and enhances your outdoor lifestyle. With the right planning and design, your outdoor living room can become your favorite room in the house.