1. Mimic the look of your dream vacation spot. Set the scene for relaxation by styling your outdoor seating area with design details that remind you of being on holiday. If you have fond memories of dining alfresco in the Italian countryside, look for ways to pull the look and feel of Tuscany into your backyard by using crunchy, warm-toned gravel and bistro-style furniture. Dreaming of beach vacations? Style your outdoor seating area with lounge chairs, seafoam green cushions and glass lanterns.
Are there ways to make your backyard lounge look and feel more comfortable, such as with cozy throw blankets or colorful pillows? If you have an outdoor table, consider placing small potted plants such as herbs or succulents as living centerpieces.
If the fences surrounding your outdoor room look empty, plant flowering vines to trail up the sides or hang accent pieces like antique lanterns for interest.
3. Create a sense of privacy. Make your backyard seating area feel like a secluded retreat, rather than a place where you’re on display to neighbors, with the use of hedge plants, trees, fencing and arbors. Screening can be key in making small urban gardens feel inviting. In larger gardens, increasing the privacy around an outdoor seating area — such as surrounding a dining table with hedges and lush boarders — can help make a space feel more intimate.
5. Carve out multiple areas. Conversely, create multiple destinations in a backyard or on a terrace, with two or three seating areas, each with a different purpose.
The designer of this city roof deck in Paris divided the space into three seating areas, each with specific use: a trio of chairs for hosting a small group, a built-in seating nook for reading — or extra seating for larger groups — and a single lounge for relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.
This strategy can maximize utility in a small space and provide plenty of reasons to get outside.
6. Design for your group size. Whether you often have a couple of friends over after work, host dinner parties or prefer to keep your garden as a private retreat for one or two, design your seating area to best accommodate your group size.
If you host the occasional larger party, keep things flexible with a mix of built-in seating and open areas where you can easily set up a folding table and chairs.
9. Plan the position of your seating area. If you’re looking for more reasons to be drawn outside to enjoy your backyard, position your seating area where you can see it from inside.
Look for sightlines from the home, like the view from a living room window, and consider the layout of your outdoor seating area accordingly.
Catching a glimpse of a sunny lounge or a rocking chair overlooking the garden while inside the house can be enough to tempt you outside.
10. Bring on the glow. Instantly change the mood of your outdoor seating area in the evening from shadowy to alluring with the addition of subtle outdoor lights. Consider a combination of light sources to create the effect you’d like.
For example, make the setting feel romantic with the flicker of candles or subtle glow of downlighting on trees. Use twinkling cafe lights overhead and an inviting outdoor fire pit to set the mood for a backyard party.
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