Fresh Ideas For Expanding Your Living Space Outdoors

Outdoor living spaces make you feel you added square footage to your home

To start, it’s a relatively straightforward — and stylish — way to give everyone in your home more room to spread out. Plus, it creates an additional area for you to entertain. If you have the room, there’s really no reason for your living space to stop at your back door.  

As for how this space should look, that’s entirely up to you. Some are little more than artfully done seating areas that encourage conversation. Others are more extravagant, boasting everything from outdoor kitchens to huge television sets. However, there are a few features that the majority of these areas have in common.  

If you’re thinking of adding a dash of design to your home’s outdoor space, you’re in the right place. Here are a few of the best outdoor living room ideas to help you get started. Take these and make them your own. Which features are essential in your ultimate design?  There’s no wrong answer here.

Comfy seating is a must in an outdoor living room

Want to know a little secret: In spaces like these, seating is king. If there’s not plenty of room for people to sit and relax, it won’t matter what other features are added to the space. Proper seating, especially when its plush and unbelievably easy to stretch out on, is the thing that will ensure your outdoor living room gets plenty of use.

With that in mind, when designing your space, remember that comfort, quantity and size matter. Since outdoor furniture can also be a sizable investment, it’s crucial to know you’re buying a set that fits your needs. If you can, test out the furniture at the store before you make a purchase and match the pieces’ dimensions against measurements of the space where you’ll be putting it. If you’re buying online, be sure to read reviews so you’ll know the product meets your expectations.

Once you get your outdoor furniture home, it’s all about the placement. Seating works best when arranged into small groups that allow people to gather and talk. For personal use, one seating area will suffice, but if you entertain often, you may want do consider creating multiple areas.

Add a heat source

Keep in mind that most seating areas are arranged around a particular focal point, or a design element that draws the eye. Where outdoor living rooms are concerned, a heat source like a small firepit or larger built-in fireplace is a particularly good choice.

Not only will this feature lend a sense of drama to the space, but it’s also incredibly utilitarian. Adding a heat source to your outdoor area will increase the amount of time you can spend enjoying it. It will allow you to weather chilly nights and seasonal changes that would otherwise render the area unusable.

That said, live flames aren’t the right fit for everyone. Families with young children or those who simply don’t want to take the risk should look into purchasing a heat lamp. They typically run off of propane and, in the past few years, have become increasingly easy to find in home improvement stores like Lowes.

Consider some sort of shade cover

In addition to adding a heat source, you’ll also be able to extend the utility of your outdoor living room if you include a covering from the elements. Though the amount of coverage you’ll receive depends largely on the which type of covering you choose, it’s safe to say that you and your guests will certainly appreciate it in less-than-ideal weather. This design element will come in handy when facing everything from scorching heat to heavy winds and even rain.

When shopping for coverings, there are plenty of options to choose from. Recently, pergolas like the one shown in the picture above have seen a spike in popularity. However, umbrellas, awnings, lanais or even indoor-outdoor sunrooms are on the list of potential options.

Since coverings often require building an additional structure, your best bet is to hire a qualified contractor. Be honest with them about how you’d ideally like to use the space, as well as your budget. They’ll be able to recommend the type of covering the best suits your needs.

Mix patterns, colors and textures

Once you have all of your desired features in place, your next task is to turn an eye to interior design. For the most part, the same rules apply to any space, regardless of whether it’s within walls or not. However, outdoor living rooms do have a few unique considerations you’ll want to be aware of as you’re bringing your vision to life.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that, since outdoor seating is often sold as a unit, it can look monotonous if left alone. You’ll need to add in other design elements with a variety of patterns, colors and textures to create visual interest.

Adding in textiles like accent pillows or an outdoor rug is a great choice because they can bring in lots of visual interest, but can be easily switched out as trends change. Incorporating different types of greenery is another natural choice since you are in nature. Even structural elements like pathways, decks and patios can play a role in your design, if you choose complementary materials and finishes.

An outdoor living room is what you make it. Use your imagination.

Outdoor living rooms are an area of your home that can truly be tailored to individual tastes. Some are simple and cozy while others are extravagant undertakings that feature plenty of high-end amenities. In fact, there are so many choices available that it can be difficult to determine where to start. Use this guide as a resource to help you take the first step in your design and we know that the finished product will quickly become your new favorite spot.