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How to Create a Fun and Functional Outdoor Living Room

outdoor living room
Tanny Do

You’ve seen the pictures — beautiful outdoor spaces that are so well-balanced and artfully designed that they become a warm-weather extension to your home. When you’re checking out the latest designer spaces, the idea of creating your own summer-winning outdoor living room can be a little intimidating, but rest assured! If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can win the whole summer with your own fun, functional space.

Start with a Smart Foundation

For a coordinated look, keep most of your furniture simple and uniform and rely on accents, like a set of throw pillows to fully form your room’s color and personality. You don’t have to shy away from a statement piece, such as a brightly colored outdoor rug, but be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to end up with a confusing and cluttered space.

Define Your Space

To make sure that you and your guests can truly get comfortable in your outdoor living room, arrange furniture to create a wide variety of functional spaces. For example, you can maximize a previously forgotten corner by adding a bistro set or dining table. Adding a coordinating sectional creates a separate area for lounging and conversation.

Embrace the Outdoors

While you may want to install a pergola or other structure to add some protection and privacy to your outdoor living room, you don’t want to lose the “outdoor” entirely. Consider using hedges or strong-lined topiary (something simple, no elephants or leaping dolphins please) to create green barriers that let you enjoy nature and privacy at the same time. If maintaining hedges isn’t your thing, you can always opt for the surprisingly realistic artificial boxwoods from Make B-Leaves.

Light It Up

Why waste those sweet summer nights by moving back indoors after dusk? There are plenty of ways to create an outdoor living room that doesn’t have to shut down at sundown. A fire pit can act as a centerpiece and provide extra light to your room (and some extra warmth during the cooler months). Be sure each section you create has its own lighting source. String lights around the pergola, lanterns near the seating space, and an outdoor pendant above the dining table can add personality and keep your evenings bright, too.

Create Focus and Purpose

For an outdoor space you can really live in, it’s not enough just to drop some classy furniture onto a concrete slab and start shooting out party invitations. A straight-from-the-catalog patio may look picture-perfect, but you’re much more likely to use and enjoy the space if it’s filled with elements of your own personality. There’s no need to go chain-pub tacky – you can easily mix style, function, and personality, by creating a focal point and choosing pieces that complement it.

For a Zen Zone

If you’re looking to create a place to zen out, an interesting fountain or water feature can be a relaxing touch. Combine it with a stylish lounger to create a breezy, coastal space or choose modern profiles and deep, smooth finishes for a more spa-like atmosphere.

For Rustic Dining

For a room that fully embraces its natural surroundings, use living wall planters to make a jolly green statement that centers your space. Pull the outdoors into the space even more by complementing your living wall with live-edge tables, wicker chairs, and furniture you can plant in.

For Weekend Rivalries

If you’re looking forward to a little extra heat this summer, create your own outdoor sports haven by complimenting a mounted television with an outdoor bar and a refrigerator that’s built to withstand the elements. For those game-day drizzles, add a cabana to help protect the space from inclement weather.

For Entertainment

For summer movie or game nights, focus your room around an outdoor movie screen with some plush seating and you won’t even need to leave home to soak up this summer (but you probably should at some point). Up the relaxation game by adding in an inviting outdoor daybed, and add some extra functionality with a buffet for concessions.

However you decide to set up your outdoor living room, following these simple guidelines will help you to create a stylish space to light up your summer.

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LeeAnn Whittemore
Former Digital Trends Contributor
LeeAnn Whittemore is a writer, artist, and graphic designer who grew up in the Midwest before moving to the Gulf Coast. As a…
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