31 Design Ideas to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Space

31 Design Ideas to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Space

Outdoor patio with umbrella

Whether you have a sprawling garden with endless space for entertaining or you're working with a small patio, a purposeful design can help take your outdoor space from bland to beautiful.

In the warmer months, a well-decorated outdoor space can open up your home and extend the overall square footage, giving you more living and entertaining space. And while your outdoor space may not be a 12-month thing, a heater or an outdoor fireplace can extend the time you get to enjoy that outdoor living room.

To make your home look like something out of a landscaping magazine, we asked a few experts for their outdoor design tips and rounded up our favorite ideas for any size space. Read more for major inspiration before your next outdoor gathering.

    01of 31

    Hang a Tapestry

    Outdoor space with green chairs

    You rarely leave a wall empty on the inside of your home, so why not do the same outside? Spruce up the empty walls of your patio or porch with an eye-catching design, like this piece of artwork.

    Wall hanging is key to upgrading a room. "The wall hanging is so unique as it adds a textured element to the space," she shares. "It's light, but adds interest as the art of the room," she says.

    02of 31

    Add a Pop a Color

    Outdoor space with pink pillows

    It can be easy to gravitate towards a minimalist palette when decorating your outdoor space, but Joyner says she likes adding more interest.

    "I love bringing the colors of nature into outdoor spaces," she says. "I don't like a washed-out look—over time, it just reads dull. I like a bit of color and excitement."

    03of 31

    Add a Heater

    Outdoor patio with a heater

    If you live in a climate with four seasons, you may not get as much usage out of your patio as you would like. Expand your outdoor season with the addition of a standing propane heater or build an outdoor fireplace to make it even cozier.

    04of 31

    Plant Native Flowers

    Outdoor exterior of a house

    If you love the idea of a beautiful garden but hate the thought of spending the entire summer outside pruning weeds and flowers, consider a wildflower garden. Opting for native plants can be a great way to introduce a load of color and attract pollinators to your yard.

    Look up native plants for your region. Plants that originate from your area have the best chance at success in a wildflower patch.

    05of 31

    Focus on the Table

    Patio with a table and chairs

    If dining al fresco is your thing, spend time creating a second dining room outside. Find comfortable chairs (no one wants to sit on hard metal all night) and invest in a great table umbrella so that you have a welcoming space for dining all season long.

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    Hang Up String Lights

    Outdoor patio

    One easy way to upgrade any patio area is by focusing on the lighting. Create a cozy, welcoming space with the use of string lights or torches to add a warm, soothing glow. A few candles or a hanging lantern are also great ways to improve the ambiance of any outdoor space.

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    Delineate Your Space

    If you have a large outdoor space that feels a little disjointed, consider ways you can carve out specific spaces in your outdoor areas.

    "You start with a composed layout and balance your seating groupings," Joyner explains. "Use outdoor rugs to define the areas and decide where your special moment will be."

    08of 31

    Create a Second Living Room

    Pool house with living room setup

    A beautiful outdoor space can be created whether you have a large budget or a relatively small one. Kimberley Seldon of Kimberley Seldon Design Group says a shelter house can help delineate a large, open lawn. "If budget allows, build a permanent partial shelter such as a gazebo or arch to provide a focal point in the garden," she says.

    09of 31

    Create an Oasis

    Outdoor area with gate

    A little bit of landscaping and privacy can go a long way. Sheldon suggests adding latticework or fencing to extend your patio space and make it feel like a little escape.

    "A latticework windbreak is affordable and looks lush, especially when it's planted with trailing vines such as Chinese wisteria, bougainvillea or climbing roses," she says. "For a more contemporary look, create a hedge of boxwood or snake grass or create a more formal screen by planting a dense row of cedar or hew trees."

    10of 31

    Create a Four-Season Space

    Porch with chairs and table

    If you can swing it, converting a porch or a patio into a four-season room can be a great way to expand your floor plan and add some much-needed square footage. Large, expansive windows help to add to the indoor-outdoor feeling, but extended ductwork is the true key for year-round comfort.

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    Open Up Your Kitchen

    Outdoor living space with grill

    A small kitchen can mean a hot, sweaty kitchen in the summer months. If you're a big cook, an outdoor grill, burner and even a sink can really open up your options and make it much more comfortable to cook a big meal in the dead heat of August.

    12of 31

    Improve an Urban Oasis

    Outdoor table on grass

    If you're a city dweller who's lucky enough to have a piece of land or a balcony to chill out on, make it feel less hectic with a little white noise.

    "To mask city noise and foster serenity, add ambient sounds such as a burbling water feature or playful wind chimes to the garden," Sheldon suggests.

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    Build a Fire Pit

    Outdoor firepit with chairs

    A permanent fire pit is the perfect centerpiece for any garden and gives you a wonderful place to roast s'mores and invite friends over. DIYing it is pretty easy and the final product can feel much more purposeful than a removable, store-bought one.

    14of 31

    Set Up a Greenhouse

    Outdoor garden with greenhouse

    Whether you have a small balcony container garden or you can fill your backyard with endless plants and flowers, a green thumb needs a perfect place to grow.

    "With many of us cooking more frequently, it's the perfect time to plant an herb garden," Sheldon says. "Think how impressed your friends will be when you snip rosemary, basil, lavender, and sage from your own garden."

    No room for an outdoor garden? You can still grow herbs right from your kitchen for fresh basil and thyme all year long.

    15of 31

    Add Plants

    Patio with cactus

    A great potted plant can transform a living room or a bedroom. In the warmer months, bring that greenery outside to give it more sun and spruce up a patio or porch. Just be sure your houseplant is able to withstand the amount of sun it will get outside before you burn its leaves.

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    Spruce up Your Porch Steps

    Porch with planters

    Welcome guests the right way with a few lovely planters scattered around your porch steps. We love this alternative to the traditional flower window box, especially for those who like to bring their houseplants outside for the sunny months.

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    Decorate for the Seasons

    Cottage with pumpkins out front

    If you've invested in a few outdoor heaters or a fire pit to extend your space through the fall months, make sure to decorate for the seasons, too. A few tasteful accents such as heirloom pumpkins or a dried boxwood wreath can give your space a makeover for each holiday.

    18of 31

    Use Pallets

    Outdoor patio with pallets

    Let's face it—even budget outdoor furniture can be hard on your wallet. Why not DIY your outdoor sectional with a set of painted pallets and waterproof cushions? You can find endless floor plan options online and customize the shape to your exact space.

    19of 31

    Focus on Flowers

    Flower garden behind house

    There are not many of us who look forward to spending our weekends mowing and trimming a lawn. Consider swapping your grass for flowerbeds for a more vibrant look all season long.

    Pick easy-to-care-for blooms if you don't have a lot of time to dedicate to your garden.

    20of 31

    Go for Boho

    Outdoor table and chairs

    Give us rattan and wicker all day long. We can't get enough of the boho, eclectic look these days, and a cozy patio is a perfect place to bring this natural material into your home. A breakfast nook with two chairs or a cozy lounge chair made from wicker can give your outdoor space a modern look with a vintage vibe.

    21of 31

    Try a Stock Tank Pool

    Stock tank pool

    If you've always dreamt of a pool but can't spring for the real thing, consider a stock tank pool. These dreamy little metal pools are just large enough to help you cool off in the dead of summer.

    Though we think they're pretty cool as they come, a coat of black paint or a pop of neon can really take a stock tank pool to the next level.

    22of 31

    Paint it Black

    Shed painted black

    Your outdoor space may be beautiful, but if the exterior of your home is lacking it can really bring your whole look down. Spruce up your home's exterior with a coat of bold black paint to give it a modern yet classic look and feel.

    23of 31

    Create a Potting Table

    Potting stand for plants

    Every gardener knows the value of a great potting table to make it that much easier to tend to your greenery babies. Carve out a little nook in your patio or deck for a potting table and fill it with all of your gardening must-haves.

    24of 31

    Build a Shed

    Shed with flowers around it

    Sure, you may laugh at the idea of a "she shed," but there's a reason they are so popular. Carve out a cozy escape in your yard with a shed and adorn it with accessories, seating, and the perfect lighting. If you don't have electricity, solar string lights are a great alternative, just make sure to place them in a sunny spot.

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    Focus on Landscaping

    Landscaping outside

    If you have a lot of land and budget, getting professional landscaping can be the best option for creating a perfect outdoor oasis. An outdoor designer can help you dream up the perfect backyard and create nooks and crannies for all different types of entertaining.

    If you can't afford a professional, spend time mapping out exactly how you want to use each area of your lawn.

    26of 31

    Update the Fence

    Backyard with wooden fence

    Can't decide between a new fence and planter boxes? Why not do both? This incredibly modern and chic fence is the perfect way to add a lot of privacy with built-in garden beds that you can fill with greenery, flowers, or veggies. 

    27of 31

    Get Some Shade

    Outdoor patio with umbrella

    Before you spend a lot of time and energy decorating your outdoor space, make sure it will be comfortable. It's hard to spend much time outside in the hottest months if the sun is beating down on you. Instead, invest in some shade with a standing umbrella or a pergola covered with canvas. Just don't forget the SPF, too.

    28of 31

    Consider Bean Bags

    Pool with bean bags next to it

    Think bean bags are just for kids? Think again. We love outdoor bean bags because they are super comfortable, totally modern and very easy to move indoors in inclement weather, so they will last for years to come. An outdoor bean bag lounger is incredibly versatile and is perfect to place next to the pool or on a balcony overlooking the city.

    29of 31

    Add Plant Shelves

    Patio with wood fence

    If you're adding a fence to your space this season, consider adding some built-in shelves for flowerpots or container gardens. This is a great way to show off your favorite summer blooms with a bit of simple-but-effective flair.

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    Add Privacy With Shrubs

    Outdoor lounge area with bushes

    For a more natural look than a fence, consider installing evergreen bushes or shrubs to block out noise and add a ton of privacy. You can buy small shrubs and wait for them to grow large enough to add privacy, or hire a landscaper to install larger bushes for an instant natural privacy fence.

    31of 31

    Create an Indoor-Outdoor Design

    Living room with open door to outside

    If you spend a lot of time and effort designing the perfect outdoor oasis, you probably want easy access to that space all the time. Open up a wall with a retractable or large sliding door to create the perfect indoor-outdoor home that will feel like a vacation all year long.