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Five tips for creating an outdoor living space to enjoy spring through fall

An example of an outdoor living room. [OPEI photo]

Outdoor spaces are quickly becoming one of the most coveted home features. They serve as an expansion of a home’s living space without the added costs of expensive renovations. Outdoor living rooms also offer a relaxing respite from everyday stress, provide a safe place for kids and pets to play and create an oasis for entertaining guests and family members.

Here are the five tips on how to create an outdoor living room, courtesy of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute [OPEI].

Start fresh

The first step to sprucing up is to clear away dirt and clutter from the patio or porch space that will become the new outdoor living destination. Store lawn equipment, children’s toys and pet play things in a shed or garage. Give the entire space a good scrub and sweep away dust and debris. Make sure to clear away cobwebs or old insect and birds’ nests and check any tight spaces where critters or bats could be hiding away in the daytime. The goal is to create a fresh, clean canvas on which to build.

Bring the indoors outside

Blending interior and outdoor living spaces helps the exterior area feel like an extension of the home, not an afterthought. Make sure that blinds and curtains are open to the family yard to highlight the new area. Make certain the indoor and outdoor décor complement one another and utilize similar colors, materials and styles both inside and out. For a home that has a more tropical décor, try decorating with pieces that feature bright prints or adding statement plants to make the indoor and outdoor spaces harmonize.

Create comfy sitting areas

From relaxation to entertainment, comfortable seating is a must-have. Create easy traffic flow throughout the outdoor living room by offering a variety of places for people to sit – at a table, around a fire pit, or in a cozy chair configuration. Larger pillows or ottomans can multitask as extra seats in a pinch during a party or large event and are easy to pack away and store as opposed to hoarding extra sets of outdoor chairs. Add some extra shade by using umbrellas, awnings or outdoor curtains to minimize glare or sun exposure, especially in summer.

Soften the outdoor space

Introduce a few soft design features into the outdoor area to help create an inviting atmosphere. Adding rugs, throw pillows and upholstered patio furniture can help achieve a “cozy” feel without invoking wintertime vibes. Many retail brands make weatherproof cushions and pillows in a variety of patterns, textures and colors to match multiple décor schemes and to help homeowners keep outdoor decorations fresh all year long. It’s also inexpensive to swap out new pillows and rugs when older ones start to become worn out or dated. Outdoor ambiance also can be created by adding touches like string lighting, a fire pit in the center of a patio, a zen-like water feature, real or flameless candles, small plants and fresh-cut flowers to tabletops or vases.

Embrace living landscapes

Nothing says “welcome home” quite like a beautiful living landscape, complete with blooming shrubs, healthy trees, colorful flowers and other vegetation. Freshen up the family yard by devoting a weekend to weeding, mulching and planting flower beds and pots with colorful flowers and lush plants. For homeowners with a smaller yard or gardening space, adding vases of flowers can help bring life – and a pop of color – to outdoor space.

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