How To Design An Outdoor Living Space

Posted by Belle and June on March 1, 2024

How To Design An Outdoor Living Space

Your outdoor living space is just as important for the aesthetic and functionality of your home as your indoor space. The right outdoor decor can bring an otherwise vacant area to life, allowing you to enjoy summer evenings and host family BBQs with ease.

Want to learn more about how you can enhance any outdoor space?

At Belle & June, we’re experts in everything outdoor decor. We'll tell you everything you need to know about how to design your outdoor living space, as well as provide outdoor decor recommendations.

1. Define Different Zones

Similarly to having different rooms with different functions in your home, you can use outdoor decor pieces to divide the space into distinct zones. For example, you can create separate areas for dining, lounging, cooking, and relaxation. This will help maximize functionality and create a sense of organization.

Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Draw a plan that allocates different areas of your yard to activities like lounging, dining, cooking, gardening, and more before you purchase decor.
  • Use visual cues like rugs, planters, or level changes to delineate each zone and create a sense of separation.
  • Consider the flow of traffic and how people will move between different areas when designing the layout of your outdoor space.

2. Prioritize Practical Furniture

Outdoor furniture needs to be as practical as it is stylish. Even if covered, your decor will face the elements far more harshly than any indoor decor. Plus, one furniture piece may be more useful in a garden, while another provides functionality for a BBQ setup. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize practicality.

Here are some tips:

  • Consider outdoor furniture made from weather-resistant materials like aluminum, teak, or polyethylene wicker to withstand exposure to the elements.
  • Select pieces with easy-to-clean surfaces and removable cushions or covers for hassle-free maintenance.
  • Consider the scale and proportion of furniture compared to the size of your outdoor space to ensure a comfortable and balanced layout.

3. Provide Comfortable Seating

No one wants to stand around the entire time they’re in outdoor spaces, and camping chairs have very limited visual appeal. Instead, invest in comfortable outdoor seating options like chairs, sofas, and benches. For the best results, try:

  • Choose seating options with plush cushions and pillows to provide maximum comfort outdoors.
  • Mix and match sofas, lounge chairs, ottomans, and more to accommodate different preferences and seating arrangements.
  • Incorporate lightweight chairs and other seating that can be easily moved and rearranged to suit various activities and group sizes.

4. Incorporate Dining Areas

Whether you’re hosting a small family get-together or a 4th of July BBQ, you’ll need adequate dining space to accommodate your guests outdoors. You can include anything from a cozy bistro set or a large dining table depending on the number of guests you intend to entertain.

Here are our recommendations:

  • Determine the size and shape of your dining area based on the number of people you typically entertain and the available space.
  • Invest in a durable and weather-resistant dining set that can withstand outdoor conditions and provide ample seating.
  • Add accessories like outdoor tableware, table linens, and centerpieces to enhance the dining area.

5. Illuminate with Outdoor Lighting

With limited outlet options and a potential lack of ceilings, creating the perfect outdoor lighting setup can be tricky. That’s why we recommend string lights, battery-powered and solar-powered options. Install these lights around pathways and high-traffic areas to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in the evenings.

Here are some ideas to make your outdoor lighting really pop:

  • Hang string lights overhead on pergolas, trees, and posts for charming lighting that’s out of the way.
  • Place lights along pathways and on tables to illuminate the most heavily-used areas.
  • Install dimmer switches or smart lighting controls to adjust the brightness and ambiance of your outdoor lighting.

6. Create a Fire Pit Focal Point

Who doesn’t love a summer evening by the fire pit? This outdoor decor staple is a must-have for any outdoor living area, providing a place to gather, warm up, and make smores. Choose from a variety of styles, such as built-in, portable, or tabletop to complement your outdoor aesthetic.

We recommend:

  • Consider the style of your pathways and other furniture when you choose a fire pit (i.e. rustic stone, sleek metal, or contemporary concrete).
  • Create a designated seating area around the fire pit with comfortable chairs, benches, or built-in seating for guests to gather and socialize.
  • Enhance safety and functionality with accessories like fire pit covers, spark screens, and firewood storage solutions.

7. Protect Against the Elements

No one can predict the weather, which is why covering your outdoor furniture with pergolas, awnings, and canopies can be a game changer. These stylish covers safeguard against rain and provide ample shade on hot sunny days.

For the best aesthetic and functionality, we suggest:

  • Decorating your pergola or canopy with plants, string lights, and other accessories.
  • Choose durable covers can can be safely anchored to the ground, preventing damage during storms or on windy days.
  • Consider adding mosquito nets and other bug protection to your covers to create an outdoor safe haven.

8. Incorporate Plants and Greenery

No outdoor space is complete without a little bit of greenery or a lot. Whether through natural gardens or potted plants, a beautiful outdoor space should be a lush, inviting space. You can also experiment with a variety of plant types and sizes to add visual interest and texture.

We suggest:

  • Pairing plants of different colors, textures, and heights to create visual interest and dimension in your outdoor space.
  • Incorporate container gardens, hanging baskets, and vertical planters to maximize greenery in small or narrow outdoor areas like balconies or patios.
  • Choose low-maintenance plants that are suitable for your climate and require minimal watering, pruning, and fertilizing.

9. Consider a Water Feature

Consider completing your outdoor lounging space or garden with a water feature, including fountains and ponds. Running water is a relaxing sound that helps set a comfortable and tranquil ambiance.

Effectively design a water feature in your outdoor living areas by:

  • Consider the size of your outdoor space and select a water feature design that suits the scale of the area.
  • Incorporate aquatic plants like water lilies or lotus flowers to enhance the natural beauty and biodiversity of your water feature.
  • Install a recirculating pump and filtration system to maintain water quality and prevent algae growth.

10. Lay Durable Rugs Underfoot

Rugs can be used effectively in indoor and outdoor spaces. When made from durable materials, they add color and interest to the space. Just remember these tips:

  • Add rugs to entryways and transition zones to guide the flow of traffic.
  • Choose rugs made from durable materials like bamboo, jute, hemp, and polypropylene.
  • Consider placing rugs under awnings and canopies to protect them against the elements.

11. Add a Pop of Color

Don’t be afraid to Incorporate vibrant hues through colorful flowers, cushions, rugs, or decorative accessories. Consider bold accent colors that complement your existing palette and create visual interest and excitement. Experiment with different color combinations to find the perfect balance between vibrancy and harmony in your outdoor decor.

Here are some fun tips for playing with color outdoors:

  • Incorporate brightly colored furniture pieces like chairs, sofas, or tables.
  • Experiment with bold hues like turquoise, coral, or lemon yellow to create eye-catching focal points.
  • Mix and match different colors and patterns to create a playful and eclectic look that reflects your personal style.

12. Create Rustic Walkways

No outdoor area is complete without charming walkways that guide foot traffic. Walkways can be as intricate or as simple as you choose, allowing you to design a functional path that matches your other outdoor accessories.

We recommend:

  • Using materials like natural stone, gravel, or reclaimed wood to create charming walkways.
  • Creating meandering pathways that lead to different areas of your outdoor living space.
  • Garnishing pathways with lanterns and potted plants to add character and functionality.

Shop Our Diverse Outdoor Decor Options at Belle and June

Bring your outdoor living space to life with our wide selection of outdoor decor options at Belle & June. Visit our website at to shop our catalog of lighting, seating options, and more. Whether you have a large outdoor space to decorate or a simple patio, we offer stunning decor pieces that will enhance the area’s aesthetic and functionality.