Creating an Outdoor Oasis

Expand your horizons by creating inviting, usable outdoor rooms that beckon you and your family to take a breath of fresh air and enjoy your back yard, patio or deck. Whether for big family barbeques, lazy afternoon poolside lounging or dining under the stars, outfitting your outdoor space takes slightly different considerations than indoor rooms.

Creating an outdoor oasis means creating a place that can transport you away from everyday worries and makes you feel like you are on vacation every time you step out of the back door.

When shopping for outdoor furniture, construction materials are the key to weathering the elements. Furnishing styles should work well with the themes carried through the rest of your home. However, decor, accessories and accents can be minimal since you’ll be staging your “room” in a natural surrounding with plenty of preexisting visual interest.

Consider Lifestyle

Unlike the set floorplan of the rest of your home, there is a boundless quality to configuring and creating your back yard living space. First, imagine the ways you will use your yard. Will you be hosting parties, lounging by the pool, cooking out with the family, twilight entertaining or enjoying cozy fireside evenings? Each of these uses conjures slightly different furnishing ideas; however, strategic designers can create back yard spaces that are versatile and flexible enough to serve a variety of needs.

Start with Dining and Conversation

For many homes, a great place to start is with the most frequently used outdoor furnishings including a patio dining set and a conversation set. These pieces can flexibly fill needs ranging from quiet morning coffee to big neighborhood get-togethers.

Lounging, Relaxing and Enhanced Entertaining

If you have additional space, lounge chairs, daybeds and hammocks add inviting spots to stretch out and relax in a sunny pool-side spot or to nap under a shady tree. For those who are looking to entertain frequently, a patio bar cart or bar set with barstools provides the ultimate flexibility when hosting events.

Double Duty Pieces

Because outdoor spaces often serve many purposes. Having pieces that can transition from one setting to the next can increase the functionality of your back yard. Look for sectionals that can be used in different configurations as well as dining chairs that offer enough comfort to feel relaxing for long stretches of time.

Keep Things Cool

Be ready for the heat of summer by creating places to shelter from the sun’s intense rays. If your patio isn’t covered, utilize umbrellas, pergolas or gazebos for shade.

Fabulous Foundations and Elevated Embellishments

To make your outdoor space feel like a true room and extension of your indoor living, don’t stop with the fundamental furnishings … add outdoor rugs, plant stands, toss pillows and other outdoor decor accents. Consider fountains, lanterns, sculptures, wall decor and potted plants. All can help enhance your space. But choose sparingly, you want your back yard to feel relaxing, not overwhelming.

Lighting Adds Ambiance

Enjoy your back yard escape after the sun goes down by adding outdoor lighting. Wall sconces and lighting fixtures can create timeless structure, while lanterns, string lights, path lighting and torches set a magical mood.

A Warm Invitation

Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits and heaters add warmth that can extend the seasonal use of your back yard as well as adding unmatched atmosphere.

Materials Matter

Sun, rain, wind, temperature swings and other weather all can take a toll on outdoor furnishings. Investing in quality construction and weatherproof materials will ensure that your patio furniture continues to add value and enjoyment to your life for years to come.

Make sure that metal furnishings are rust-proof (like aluminum) or have a protective powder-coated finish (iron, steel). Some woods like teak and acacia weather well without a finish. Other woods need to be sealed or painted and refinished regularly. Many plastics can breakdown in the sun, treated resin and vinyl hold up to the elements and retain their good looks for a long time.

Storage Solutions

A finishing touch of handy storage will help keep your back yard tidy and attractive. Storage benches, boxes and chests offer the perfect place to stow toys, extra cushions and yard necessities. Outdoor baker’s racks can store anything from potted plants and watering cans to towels and pool toys.

For more ideas on decorating your back yard, check out our related article Outdoor Living.