How to Design an Outdoor Setting

Maybe you have a large patio, a small or sizeable garden, a huge yard, a roof deck, or a medium-sized balcony. You might be unsure of how to incorporate outdoor decor into your home's design and are struggling to find a way to merge your indoors and the outdoor to reflect your style.

Designing an outdoor setting can be a challenging job but a pleasurable and creative one. When starting such a project, there are several factors to consider, like the layout, the surroundings, the purpose of the space, lighting, aesthetics, and more.

Creating the perfect outdoor space need not be expensive. Go all out if you're working with a large budget, but you can still work it out if you are on a more modest budget.

Making the appropriate furniture and accessory selections is vital. You must be creative and picky. This article aims to provide a few suggestions for sprucing up your outside space.

Steps you should follow when designing your outdoor space

Before you start spending on foliage and furniture, think about how you’ll use your outdoor area.

Is it for entertaining guests? How many guests? Maybe it’s a place to chill to catch up on reading. Is it a cozy spot for sunbathing, or perhaps an outdoor kitchen? Perhaps this is where you see your family bonding as kids play.

Whatever it is, here is where you start.

Create the layout

When creating a layout, sketch how the patio, garden, backyard, or balcony should look, considering sunspots and wind direction. Also, note the shade or think of building a pergola and accessorizing with curtains or foliage.


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Sketch on a tracing paper to have copies.

Choose a theme and run with it. Decide your colors - modern or traditional feel; decking - concrete, tiles, mosaic print or plain; outdoor rugs, boulders, rocks; furniture type, etc.

If you decide to go for the contemporary design, an Avalon Daybed from Harbour Outdoor may be the perfect fit. You can even add a water feature if it suits your space and function.

You could go with climbing ivy, clematis, or simple outdoor plants for foliage, together with simple planters, planter stands, or sculptor planters that stand out.

Be selective and run your imagination wild when choosing hardscape, plants, furniture, and lighting, marrying everything with the outdoor space functionality.

You could also use vertical space if your outdoor is tiny. A standing shelf like this Greenington Metal Shelf would provide some extra storage space.

Ultimately, the layout depends on your space function, which could be one or more.

Consider the surroundings

Consider the trees, which areas get sun and which ones have shade. The wind patterns, too - some spots could be too chilly.

The views to enjoy on your balcony or backyard also determine your furniture. Go for mesh chairs and a coffee table to enjoy the sights.

The outdoor space should be functional and logical. For example, you could have the kitchen linked to the outdoor space dining area or barbecue.

Additionally, the pool is linked to the sunroom, door, or the outdoor space is enclosed with a sunbathing lounge chair.

You could pave, gravel, or use stepping stones for the pathways if it's a yard. You could also layer plants if your space has a hilly spot.

For a serene environment, you could add a water feature. The trickling sound of water will get you those zen feelings. A statue fountain or a table-top water feature can be tucked in a corner.

Decide on the purpose

An outdoor setting could be your chill-out zone. It could be a cooking area, a bar, an entertainment section, or a sunbathing spot.

It should be covered away from the scorching sun if it's meant to be a relaxing area. You could use a pergola with climbing plants to filter the sun or an umbrella.

The furniture cushions should be soft, and the lighting and accessories should be perfect for a cozy feel. Think swinging egg chairs. Consider pathway lighting, a gazebo, festoon, or fairy lights for romantic dinner dates.

Outdoor furniture under a pergola

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Overall, your outdoor space should be inviting, with decor many will envy.

Choose the lighting

Lighting is both functional and aesthetic. You need proper lighting to accentuate your space and also illuminate it. Lighting gives the first impression of your outdoor area.

Warm white is the best color for outdoor lighting. Think hanging lights, wall lights, garden lights, pathway lights on paves, and fan or ceiling lights.

Hanging lights could range from chandeliers, lanterns, pendants, fairy lighting, candle lamps, floodlights on trees, or post lights for security.

Array of Pendant Lighting

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

Festoon lights, Boho lamps, string lights, deck lights or step lights, the traditional big bulb, portable, stylish lighting, solar lighting, etc.

Layer them or place them strategically to suit your space functionality.

Before buying lighting fixtures, decide if you want the traditional feel or the contemporary rustic, industrial, or transitional lights, a mixture of traditional and modern aesthetics.

Look at the finish, material, and durability and point out the lighting fixture's exact location in your outdoor space.

 Outdoor Table and Chair setting

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Choose outdoor furniture (things to consider)

When picking furniture, choose multipurpose furniture if your budget is low for both indoors and outdoor. Additionally, if you don't have a roof over your outdoor living space, you'll have to store your furnishings indoors for the winter. So why not choose furniture that you'd be happy to have in your patio, garden, or living room? Lightweight furnishings are best because they are easy to move.

Consider rustproof aluminum chairs that are lightweight and low maintenance. Accessorize with cushions. They don’t require painting or special treatment. The only thing you must do is keep them indoors when the weather is harsh.

Should you choose furniture specifically for the outdoor space, it should withstand harsh weather conditions.


Go for curvy chairs and bold colors.

Also, accessorize furniture with small plants in vases, bright-colored plush, and soft cushions, and group them around a stylish outdoor rug.

You want the outdoor space to speak to the indoor style. You could play around with one or two more colors, but remember not to overindulge with the colors.

Furthermore, you could also play around with seating levels. Think bean bags, hammocks, low lounge chairs, and so forth, and some high chairs.

Think of open weave chairs, Adirondack foldable chairs, mesh chairs, armchairs, compact L-shaped sofas, or sectional patio chairs.


The furniture arrangement should make a statement. It should pull you or guests to the outside to hang out.

Opt for comfortable lounges and a portable fire pit for cocktails and parties. Like the Pacific Stackable Sunlounger, go for foldable chairs or tables and stackable lounges. You could also do side tables with matching chairs.

A patio sofa bed, a suspended seat, or a chaise lounge chair by the pool are ideal for reading and relaxing.

Armchairs, love seats, and rocking chairs are good when hosting family members.

Imagine sipping tea on an armchair or enjoying a beer on a bistro chair and table.

Choose colors and patterns similar to your decor, exterior, and surroundings, and stick to your theme.

Additionally, the furniture should be the correct size, depending on your space and intended use. Porous outdoor foams are best for cushions. The cushions dry out quickly compared to fiber and feather cushions that you could still use, but remember to put them away after use.

Remember to choose cushion covers made from an outdoor fabric.


Look for easy-to-maintain furniture with long-lasting UV-resistant material.

Metal is the most durable. Think wrought iron for a traditional look or seek a modern finishing. Wrought iron, however, requires frequent painting.

Metal furniture fits into any outdoor setting, though it can be heavy.

Wood furniture has a personal touch, and there are different finishing you can pick. It integrates best with a natural outdoor setting. Teak, cypress, redwood, White Oak, or cedar are good options.

Plastic modern furniture is also an option. The downside is that the aesthetic doesn't last long under the sun.

Trendy synthetic rattan furniture made from woven plastic is the way to go. It is low maintenance, lightweight, and can withstand harsh outdoor weather (frost, intense UV rays, rain) without losing its beauty.

Other tips for creating the perfect outdoor setting

To complete the design of your outdoor space, you need to think about accessories like rugs and plants. Below are some more tips on rugs, flooring, paving, and plants.

Outdoor Rugs

When picking an outdoor rug, go for one that is quick-drying. The carpet should also be all-weather for it to last long. Always double-check the description.

Its color should ground your furniture, and its texture soft on your feet.

Go for bold patterns. You could even paint your deck with bold prints. Why not? It's trendy and stylish.


The plants you pick should be low maintenance unless you have time to spare working on them. Aeonium and festuca are the best choices as they are very easy to maintain. Standard shrubs, roses, camellia, succulents, and lavender are other plants that will make your space look more lively.

Landscaping: Flooring, paving, or decking

Mix hardscape with soft landscaping. Use hardscape material with furniture, bricks, concrete, flagstone, use boulders in gardens, and bring the rock bed closer to the living area.


The details that go into designing an outdoor space depend on personality, indoor decor, size of the area, what’s trending, and most of all, the intended use.

A layout is your ultimate guide to a successful outdoor design. Surroundings, including natural scenery, wind direction, sunlight, and shade, will influence furniture choice, theme, and colors.

Consequently, choosing outdoor lighting fixtures and furniture will be effortless once you get your functionality right. You’ll consider furniture purpose, materials, and the decorative aspect to make your outdoor living space inviting.

Other ideas to play around with are plants, bold outdoor rugs, and landscaping options where you incorporate both hard and soft touches to compliment each other.

Head over to Viesso for outdoor furniture pieces

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