Outdoor Living: 8 Ideas To Get The Most Out Of Your Space

Great ways to enjoy your backyard this season!

Thinking about your patio, deck or outdoor living space? Whether you are looking to remodel, redesign or revamp your outdoor space – or build one from scratch –  check out these tips to get the most out of your backyard.

1. Invest in quality furniture

Even if you don’t use your outdoor furniture but for a few months out of the year, it goes through a lot of wear, tear and abuse. Rain, snow, ice, heat, and falling debris all contribute to a weathered and worn look. When shopping for outdoor furniture, invest in the highest quality you can afford. You’ll want to look for furniture made from heavy, durable materials that won’t blow away in the wind, and can withstand the regular cleaning you’ll need to do to keep it looking its best. You’ll also want to purchase correctly fitting furniture covers and place it over the furniture when not in use; in the off season store cushions in the garage or attic. The better you take care of the furniture, the longer it will look good outside.

This modern patio squeezes in a lot of functionality. There's a spot for relaxing near the fire pit as well as a space for dining. Good furniture helps makes this space. By Ag-Trac Enterprises.

This modern patio squeezes in a lot of functionality. There’s a spot for relaxing near the fire pit as well as a space for dining. Good furniture helps makes this space. By Ag-Trac Enterprises.

2. Make the patio as large as possible

If you are adding stone pavers, poured concrete or a wooden deck, design the area to be as large as possible. If you want your outdoor space to function as kitchen, dining and living area outside, you’ll want enough room to move furniture around and you won’t want too many transition areas (like stairs or gravel edges) for people to trip over. The eye tends to stop whenever there is a change in surface, like from paver to grass, so extending the space as much as possible will make the patio appear larger too.

Stone patio by Lambright Design Group

Stone patio by Lambright Design Group provides plenty of space for entertaining and is conveniently located right off of the kitchen.

3. Outdoor spaces don’t need to have a lot of furniture

Sometimes your favorite outdoor spot will be just a small area of the yard, or a small balcony off of your home. You don’t need to fill your patio with lots of furniture if you simply need a quiet place to sit outdoors. But constructing a built-in bench, like the one shown below, is a great way to host impromptu gatherings without having to buy lots of furniture.

A small deck, part of a multi-tiered backyard space, offers a nice perch under a beautiful tree. Notice the built-in bench seating surround that offers even more impromptu gatherings. By Kaplan Architects.

A small deck, part of a multi-tiered backyard space, offers a nice perch under a beautiful tree. Notice the built-in bench seating surround that offers even more impromptu gatherings. By Kaplan Architects.

4. When to hire a professional

If you are an expert DIYer you may choose to lay down pavers or create your patio yourself. Smaller, less technical patios don’t have to require the help from a professional. However, if you have an outdoor space that will require equipment rental, heavy materials, or drainage issues, consider working with a professional. Grading the landscape just so, and directing water away from the home is incredibly important, and may take an expert to do this correctly. Constructing retaining walls or designing a drainage system may also require a level of expertise that you may not have. It’s always a smart idea to consult a professional or two and get several price quotes for your project.

This basement level patio was actually an add-on. This sunken patio shows that even a small patio can be a welcome addition, like more square footage for the homeowners to enjoy. Project by Laura Kraft Architects.

This basement level patio was actually an add-on. This sunken patio shows that even a small patio can be a welcome addition, like more square footage for the homeowners to enjoy. Project by Laura Kraft Architects.

5. Connect the indoor and outdoor spaces

Designing a patio or deck that elegantly connects indoor living with outdoor living can be a great way to take advantage of your outdoor space all year long. A deck like the one shown below could even be used during inclement weather, and helps the host or hostess easily bring food or drinks from the kitchen on to the deck. These fully expandable doors help maximize the indoor/outdoor feel and the connected outdoor bar finishes the look.

This deck blurs the lines between indoors and out, with the help from a fully extending door and window system. Even the kitchen counter can be used for outdoor entertaining. Design by H2D Architecture.

This deck blurs the lines between indoors and out, with the help from a fully extending door and window system. Even the kitchen counter can be used for outdoor entertaining. Design by H2D Architecture.

6. Comfortable spaces add square footage

Decorating your patio with comfortable furniture decor will easily make your outdoor space feel as cozy as your indoor space. Your outdoor space can easily add to your home’s usable square footage and give you much more room for entertaining, eating or relaxing. The outdoor living space shown below utilizes many indoor-like elements like a hanging pendant, a decorated fireplace mantel, comfortable seating, and good lighting. This is the type of space you could spend all day in!

What's better than a patio that feels as comfortable as the inside of your home? This patio has all the comforts of home. By Gretchen Evans.

What’s better than a patio that feels as comfortable as the inside of your home? This patio has all the comforts of home. By Gretchen Evans.

7. Create built-in seating

Maximize your outdoor area with built-in seating. It’s the best way to have outdoor furniture without having to actually buy individual chairs or benches. The one pictured below added comfortable outdoor cushions and pillows, making it really comfortable. Some built-in seating can be built yourself using lumber, poured concrete or concrete blocks. Or have a professional woodworker or contractor build one for your site.

This patio is equipped with loads of seating options. Maximizing the patio space is important, especially if yours is a gathering place like this one. Design by Matthew Mckilligon Design.

This patio is equipped with loads of seating options. Maximizing the patio space is important, especially if yours is a gathering place like this one. Design by Matthew Mckilligon Design.

8. Consider a grass patio

Some patios are simply a soft patch of grass, like the one shown below. Obviously, a green patio needs different maintenance than a paved one, like watering or mowing. But you can use other low-maintenance greenery, like clover or moss, to get that green look. Adding pavers can help keep foot traffic organized and having focal points, like the fountain or fireplace, give a good sense of direction for the space.

This lawn patio may not have traditional stone flooring but it functions just like another outdoor space. Project by Jeneration Interiors.

This lawn patio may not have traditional stone flooring but it functions just like another outdoor space. Project by Jeneration Interiors.

Anne Reagan

Anne Reagan

With a background in furniture and antiques, Anne has spent the last several years writing about home improvement and interior design. An avid traveler, she loves to collect pieces that tell a story and in her off hours she can be found hunting for vintage furniture and textiles.

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