The September Issue

31 Design Ideas to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Space

Outdoor patio with umbrella

LeClair Decor

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.

Meet the Expert

  • Jade Joyner is the co-founder of Metal + Petal—a full-service interior design firm in Athens, GA.
  • Kimberley Seldon is a seasoned designer, writer, and TV personality based in Los Angeles and Toronto. She is the founder of Kimberley Seldon Design Group.
01 of 31

Hang a Tapestry

Outdoor space with green chairs

Metal and Petal

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.

Jade Joyner, the Co-Founder of Metal + Petal, says a 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.

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Add a Pop a Color

Outdoor space with pink pillows

Tracy Morris Design

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."

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Add a Heater

Outdoor patio with a heater

Katherine Carter

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.

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Plant Native Flowers

Outdoor exterior of a house

Kimberley Seldon

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.

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Focus on the Table

Patio with a table and chairs

Modern House Vibes

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

Black and Blooms

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

Outdoor patio with rug

Modern House Vibes

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."

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Create a Second Living Room

Pool house with living room setup

Kimberley Seldon

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.

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Create an Oasis

Outdoor area with gate

Kimberley Seldon

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."

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Create a Four-Season Space

Porch with chairs and table

Kimberley Seldon

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

Robbie Interiors

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.

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Improve an Urban Oasis

Outdoor table on grass

Coco Lapine

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

Mocha Girl Place

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.

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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.

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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

Finding Lovely

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

Finding Lovely

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.

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Use Pallets

Outdoor patio with pallets

Afro Bohemian Living

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.

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Focus on Flowers

Flower garden behind house

Afro Bohemian Living

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.

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Go for Boho

Outdoor table and chairs

Jenn Pablo Studio

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.

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Try a Stock Tank Pool

Stock tank pool

Erin Barrett

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.

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Paint it Black

Shed painted black

Becca Interiors

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.

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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.

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Build a Shed

Shed with flowers around it

Two Paws Farmhouse

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

Bari J. Ackerman

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.

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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.

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Get Some Shade

Outdoor patio with umbrella

LeClair Decor

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.

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Consider Bean Bags

Pool with bean bags next to it

JC Designs

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.

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Add Plant Shelves

Patio with wood fence

Desire to Inspire

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

Tara Kantor

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.

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Create an Indoor-Outdoor Design

Living room with open door to outside

Ashley Montgomery Design

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.