The only thing I love more than the long summer nights outside on the patio is the opportunity to decorate something new. Decorating outdoors is a bit different than how we decorate inside our homes. We get to use more colour and more pattern, both of which I’m a huge fan of. Otherwise, it’s essentially the same as indoors so don’t be intimidated. Let’s jump right into this and let me show you how to create your outdoor oasis so that you can start planning those backyard parties asap.
If you don’t naturally love decorating, this time of year can feel daunting. You know it’s time to think about decorating but not sure where to start. You show up at HomeSense ready to dive in and you become so overwhelmed with decision fatigue that you end up leaving with nothing.
LET’S CREATE YOUR OUTDOOR OASIS
1/ USE THE SAME PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN YOU USE INSIDE
The simplest way to approach your outdoor space is to think of it in exactly the same way you think about your interior spaces. Start with your largest pieces of furniture and work your way to the small decorative pieces.
If you have enough space for both an outdoor living and dining space, create those areas first using your furniture. How would you arrange these pieces if they were being used indoors? Apply the exact same principles outdoors.
Same goes for style. If you prefer sleek, modern furniture on the inside, look for the same when you’re buying outdoor furniture. Want more tips about where to start when you’re decorating your home? Read this post.
Do you like to curl up on your sofa and lounge or do you like to entertain and want pieces that will keep you upright and engaged in conversation?
Don’t be overwhelmed because you’re outside. It’s all the same principles of design whether you’re inside or out.
2/ CREATE ZONES
Once you’ve dealt with style, move on to functionality. How much room do you have and how many activities do you want to create space for?
For most of us it’s easy to know that we want an outdoor lounging/entertainment space. Do you have room for a dining area? Will you be cooking and do you need to set that area up to minimize the number of trips you make inside when you’re cooking? What about drinks? An outdoor bar cart means you’re always ready for the party.
If you really want to create your outdoor oasis, be sure you add an area that’s shady and will give you refuge from the sun. Otherwise, you’ll be hiding inside all day waiting for the sun to go down.
The last but often the most important area to consider is the play area. If you want your kids playing somewhere aside from your space , it’s important to set up that section. This is their space to run around, play games and get all their pent up energy burned off.
SOURCE: Colorado Homes
3/ CREATE A FOCAL POINT FOR EACH ZONE OR AREA
One of the difficulties in designing outdoor spaces is that they can feel like they’re floating in space sometimes. The way to overcome that is to create a focal point in each area.
If you have an outdoor fireplace, that’s an obvious one but what about big spaces with no architectural elements? You can create those using sculptures, a beautiful arbour or a lattice covered in lush plant material. This will help to anchor the space and make it feel more intentional.
SOURCE: Pure Salt
4/ BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
No I don’t mean your neighbours. I mean all the materials that are under and around your entertaining areas.
When you decorate indoors you pay attention to the fixed materials like flooring and cabinetry. The same rule applies outside but instead of wood or tile flooring you’re looking at the decking material, grass, plants and brick.
The colour of all the surrounding plants, grass and fencing should be considered when you’re coming up with your colour palette. Just like inside, incorporate the elements that already exist for a cohesive design.
SOURCE: Southern Hospitality
Now that you’ve got your zones identified and your furniture arranged it’s time for the fun stuff. Start with an outdoor rug and suddenly you’ll see the area starting to come alive. Even while you’re incorporating the surrounding colours you can still go big and bold with your colours. You don’t need a lot of colour to make a huge impact. It will be tempting when you go shopping to go crazy with colour but create that palette first, before you shop.
Now it’s time to add your pillows. Start with a large corner pillow and add a smaller one in front. If you have a large sectional you’ll need to duplicate that look in several areas. Add a toss blanket or two. Those act as a layer to soften the look but let’s face it, even in summer the nights can sometimes turn cool.
The last piece of the puzzle is the accessorizing. This is the secret weapon that takes an ordinary outdoor space and helps you create your outdoor oasis. It’s also what most people miss when they’re setting up their outdoor spaces.
Just like you would inside, add candles, plants and decorative accessories. Your goal is to make it feel complete just as you do inside.
6/ INCORPORATE LIGHTING
If you have the ability to hang overhead string lights, this is the epitome of a backyard oasis. It creates so much ambience to be sitting with a dark sky lit up by all the little lights overhead. Not everyone has the ability to hang string lights but if you have big trees you can hang lanterns with battery operated lights for the same effect.
Use candles and battery operated lights to add layers of light throughout your spaces. Use interesting shapes and play with the sizes. This is going to give you layered lighting that will create a mood even though you’re outside.
SOURCE: Home Stories A to Z
7/ CREATE A COLOUR PALETTE
I mentioned it above but it’s worth repeating. Plan your colour palette before you ever leave your home to go shopping. If you think it’s hard to pick the right colours for your indoor space, just wait until you get into a store filled with outdoor furniture and accessories. Don’t just buy anything you like without creating a colour scheme.
Start with your furniture first and the upholstery fabric will be your main colour. Pick a couple of accent colours but don’t go overboard. If you love gardening, use your flowers as inspiration for your palette. That will give such a polished look to your space to see those colours repeated.
Once you have the colours, don’t be persuaded to change your mind once you’re in the store. It’s overwhelming, I know but stick to the plan!
SOURCE: Style By Emily Henderson
8/ HAVE A HEAT SOURCE
The easiest way to extend the time you spend outside is by including a heat source to your spaces. This will allow you to stay out in the evenings for as long as you like (assuming your neighbours are ok with it).
There are so many options for heating but a coffee table fireplace is the easiest. It often comes with a metal lid that can cover the heat source when it’s not being used. That means you don’t have to worry about little fingers.
A firepit is another nice option and works really well in a more casual, secondary area where you don’t need a coffee table.
Patio heaters give off a tremendous amount of heat so if you don’t have the space for the others, there will always be a way to incorporate a standing heater.
I hope you feel confident to create your outdoor oasis now. It’s easier than you might have thought. The most important thing to remember is that it’s no different than decorating an indoor space. When in doubt, apply those same principles.
If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.