How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life

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Creating an outdoor living area is a great way to expand your home’s usable space. Follow these ideas to enjoy being in nature without giving up the creature comforts of indoor living.

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There’s no need to sit on your back patio in plastic lawn chairs in full view of your neighbors. With some creativity, it is possible to create an outdoor living space filled with all the comforts of indoors — cozy furniture, built-in entertainment systems, ambient lighting or a fireplace, and possibly even an outdoor kitchen. You can add unique touches to bring a bit of privacy to your new space.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life

Before you start creating a plan, you need to look at the backyard space you’re working with (sun exposure, access to plumbing or electrical, usable space, existing features like flooring and framework), and you need to decide how you plan to use the area. Do you want ample space for outdoor entertaining, including hosting dinner parties or watching sporting events? Do you want a quiet, peaceful nook where you can go to relax and unwind after work?

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Choosing Furniture

An essential aspect of outdoor living space is having plenty of comfortable seating that withstands the elements. If you have enough space, create multiple seating areas for guests. Look for weather-resistant furniture with easy-to-clean and fade-resistant fabric if it won’t be under a covered patio. Choose heavy furniture if you live in a windy spot. Remember, too, that large throw cushions will work as seating in a pinch.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Create Ambient Lighting

Outdoor lighting is a must if you plan to entertain after dark or you want to sit outside yourself after the sun goes down. Choose warm lighting to give the area a cozy feel. Lighting options include hanging strings of white lights from a gazebo or along your fence, decorating with solar lanterns, or even using floor lamps if your space is covered.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Flooring

The grass feels great under your feet but isn’t a good choice for flooring in an outdoor living space. You can lay floor tiles to match your indoor flooring or opt for patio stones or concrete if you need something easy to clean that withstands temperature fluctuations. Add indoor/outdoor throw rugs that match the decor to create a softer aesthetic.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Outdoor Entertainment

Entertainment systems are also a big part of designing a space. For most people, installing surround sound for a music system is top of their priority list. Other homeowners want a large television for watching sports. And some families want a projection screen for family movie night. When placing televisions and project screens, you’ll like them in a shaded spot, so the sun’s glare doesn’t make it hard to watch your show or game.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Fireplace

A fireplace adds a fantastic ambiance to an outdoor space and can help take the chill out of the air on brisk evenings. You have many different choices to consider when it comes to adding one. Opt for a built-in fireplace with a gorgeous stone enclosure or purchase a free-standing unit that sits between a seating arrangement. Fireplaces can be wood-burning, or you can tap into your house’s natural gas line if you have one.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans not only make a space feel more permanent, but they also make your outdoor space more comfortable by combating summer heat and keeping pesky bugs away from you and your guests. Purchase one large enough for the area, and remember you’ll need access to electricity and a substantial ceiling structure to support its weight.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Outdoor Kitchen

If you often host dinner parties or enjoy having friends and family over for get-togethers, an outdoor kitchen could be a great addition to your space. An outdoor kitchen keeps you out in the middle of the action instead of stuck indoors and is easy to customize to your needs. Keep it simple with a grill, a sink and prep counter, and some storage. Or, pull out all the stops and add a wine chiller, an ice maker, or even a wood-fired pizza oven.

When designing a kitchen, consider any additional building costs you can encounter to keep to your budget. You may need to run electricity, plumbing, and perhaps natural gas to the space. Is the subfloor structure sturdy enough to support the extra weight of a built-in grill and appliances? Don’t forget, too, that this kitchen is exposed to the elements. All of the building materials and appliances need to withstand being outdoors. Stainless steel resists corrosion from rain and humidity and looks great over time.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Privacy Screens

Plants are a great way to create privacy in your yard or on your patio or deck. Not only do plants provide an excellent barrier from the prying eyes of neighbors, but they can also be cheaper than installing a fence, plus they create a sound barrier and look much more pleasing.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Container Plants

Growing plants in containers is a convenient way to create a wall when you have limited green space for planting. Container plants are also a creative way to build privacy barriers without building permanent structures.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Bamboo Fence

Quick-growing bamboo is another way to create a decorative yet functional privacy screen. It grows incredibly quickly, so you can have a fully functioning privacy fence within a couple of years. You can plant it directly in the ground or put it in pots for a less permanent solution. Different cultivars will allow you to customize how it grows/spreads and how tall it will reach when fully mature.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Trellis Screens

You can add wooden or plastic trellises to the outdoor space to give plants a place to climb and come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Clematis plants, trumpet vines, and wisteria are great climbing plants that you can train to cover a trellis, creating a beautiful, natural privacy screen.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Fabric Curtains

Fabric curtains are a quick and easy way to customize a privacy screen to your decorating style and provide protection from the sun. Choose from an unlimited selection of colors, prints, and different textiles themselves to create a flowing, unique barrier. Choose weather-resistant fabrics if they will be left up year-round or exposed to the sun and rain.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life
Insect Control

Citronella candles or torches scattered around your space will help your guests from being attacked by uninvited flying intruders such as mosquitos. A bonus is that they add to the ambient light. Suppose you’d rather not have citronella candles for bug repellant. In that case, there are plenty of other non-flame options, such as planting citronella grass, lavender, or marigolds at the edge of your outdoor living area.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space to Bring Nature Into Your Life