9 Clever Ideas to Decorate Outdoor Space

Get Inspired

First, think about how you want to use the space and what your needs are, be it entertaining or play areas for children, says Australian designer Jason Grant, author of “Away at Home: Creating Relaxed Spaces of Your Own.” Then, decorate your outdoor space as you would any other room. Think about a theme, whether colorful or conceptual and give it the same design treatment that you would for more permanent spaces. Take cues from your favorite bar or restaurant, suggests Grant, or draw inspiration from the Caribbean, Palm Springs, Bali or wherever else you can imagine getting away from it all. It’s like your home away from home.

Create Boundaries

To emulate established indoor living spaces, it’s important to have boundaries designating where your outdoor “room” begins and ends. Grant suggests creating zones in your outdoor space with plants and material, for example, using large planters to define corners, a rug to center the space, and chairs arranged just so to define your outdoor sitting area.

Think Modern

Once, there was no doubt where floral-, rustic-wicker-, and aquatic-themed furnishings were meant to land. Today, you often can’t tell the difference between indoors and outdoors — and that’s a great thing. Better materials, finer fabrics, and shapes that evoke mid-century design abound. So look for pieces that feel fresh and modern: chic conversation sets and sleek loungers, geometric coffee tables, handy storage cubes or ottomans, and fun accents like poofs that fill in as extra seating.

Play With Touch and Tone

Don’t be afraid to veer from a natural palette.

“Have fun with the décor, Adding pops of color and bold patterns are perfect for an outdoor space. Colorful stripes, for example, add an instant element of cool.”

Designer Jason Grant

So snap up a vivid side table, add texture with piles of pillows (water-resistant options abound these days), and definitely lay down a statement floor covering. A stylish rug reads totally mod and would look amazing outdoors.

Hold Your Fire

A little bit of heat can turn a space that leaves guests cold into the hottest spot at your home. A built-in fireplace or fire pit is a fabulous focal point for an outdoor space and can provide enough warmth to keep the party going out of season — which is key because when an outdoor space looks like an indoor one, there is an expectation that it will function as a true extra room, rather than a campsite. Heat makes that happen.

Light the Way

Although tiki torches, lanterns, and quirky stake lights are enchanting outdoor illuminators, good lighting is important if you plan to spend a lot of time outside. Elegant floor lamps, handsome sconces, and pretty pendants are worth the splurge. Of course, once a foundation has been laid, we’re all for hanging string lights everywhere.

Get Cooking

If you have the budget, and you love to entertain, an outdoor kitchen will rock your world. Some outdoor kitchens can be quite elaborate with grills, ice makers, sinks, fridges, and prep areas set in stainless steel and stone. Less extravagant, movable versions are also available. The takeaway is that if you like to cook, create a proper space for it outside. For the same reason, set up a bar or drink station so your guests can stay and play.

Max Out Your Space

Making do with a tiny terrace? Even the smallest outdoor space is worth turning into a proper sitting area, says Grant. A bright red bistro set, for example, makes a strong style statement without a large footprint.

Don’t Forget You

If you adore art, hang something you love. If red is your thing, paint the patio crimson. It’s your space and an extension of your design aesthetic — so make it your own and don’t worry about what’s “outdoor- appropriate.” There are no rules except to be true to you.


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