The first rule of decorating an outdoor room is to treat it the same way you would an indoor room. Use styles of furniture, fabrics and accessories as you would inside, just tailor them so they suit the outdoors. Here are a few tips.
Furniture and Structures
- Create conversation areas with the furniture as you would inside. Use an outdoor area rug to define the seating area and remember to allow for traffic flow.
- Cover the furniture in a weather-resistant outdoor fabric (such as Sunbrella). Use colors and patterns that compliment the outdoor space. Look to the color of the garden, the outside of the house, or other things around the yard for inspiration.
- If space and budget permits consider adding a ceiling. It can be as simple as using four posts and a sheet of canvas, or you can do something more intense like building a pergola. Having some type of structure overhead will make the seating area more cozy and will allow you to be outside even if it's raining.
- Design your outdoor room in a similar style to what's inside. There should be a seamless transition as you walk from the indoors out, so if your home is full of classical furniture use a similar style outside. Likewise if your home is modern.
- Lighting is very important if you want to be outside at night. Candles are great but make sure to place them in containers so they don't get blown out. Lanterns and hurricane vases look great outside. You can also use flameless candles if you're not interested in the real thing.
- String some tiny white outdoor lights or paper lanterns around the area for instant ambiance.
- Add throw cushions to chairs and outdoor sofas for added comfort and color.
- If you've got a wall where you can hang things, try hanging an old vintage mirror or some old frames you find at a flea market. You don't want to use anything too valuable because it will no doubt get damaged by the elements, but inexpensive, weathered pieces look great outside.
- A water feature (even a tiny one) is great for adding ambiance and blocking noise from neighbors and traffic.
An important point to remember is that you don't want to overcrowd an outdoor seating area. The beauty of the outdoors should be the main attraction. So use furniture and accessories, but not quite as many as you might inside.