Styling & Design Tips For Your Outdoor Area

Think of your outdoor space as an open air extension of your home. Make it a place where you want to hang out or entertain when the weather cooperates.

by Fiona Kelly, Interior Designer & Spruce Up Stylist

Create a place to gather

Include seating for guests, table(s) for food and drinks and perhaps a weather resistant rug to define and anchor the space. Add greenery with planters and outdoor pillows for an inviting touch. Now, let’s get specific!


Upholstered pieces are welcoming and lounge-worthy. With several durable and fade-resistant outdoor fabrics on the market, you have options. There are also companies that design stylish outdoor furniture using sustainable wood, rattan and recycled plastic which are all environmentally friendly choices that are fairly easy to maintain. I’m looking at your Adirondack chair! If your outdoor space is primarily used for dining, a large table and chairs would make sense but if you have more room, create an outdoor living area with furniture made from weather resistant materials. Consider a sofa, sectional or love seat for entertaining then add a lounge chair or two for reading. Include mobile seating like bean bags, benches, stools and ottomans for flexibility when you have large groups over and be sure to have a coffee table or side tables for drinks, food, games and decorative objects. Now you’re ready to host the next BBQ! Speaking of which, keep the grill far enough from your seating so you’re not breathing in cooking fumes or allowing odors to creep into your upholstered pieces.

Set the mood with lighting

String lights will instantaneously add ambience to your outdoor space.  Hang lights from a pergola, tack them along the wall, weave them into an open umbrella. Whatever works. Be creative! Votives and lanterns are other lighting options for setting the mood. Tiki torches and citronella candles will keep pesky bugs at bay while adding to the atmosphere.

Fire it up

A bonfire or fire pit will create a gathering place to converse, stay warm, roast marshmallows, sip cocktails and tell ghost stories. There are many sizes and styles of fire pits out there. A fire outdoors will have the same appeal as a fireplace burning on a cold winter’s night.


Add color and beauty to your patio or apartment balcony. Planters provide a place to showcase your green thumb and creative skills. Get fancy with colorful annuals or keep it simple with greens and birchwood.   You can space planters out or cluster them together. Use matching or mis-matched pots. That’s a personal choice.


Set your space apart with decorative accessories and tap into your unique design sensibilities. There is no right way. How you combine elements will personalize your space. Having mixed materials is a nice way to break things up. Include Wood, concrete, textiles and ceramics to create a layered look.

A rule of thumb is to establish a base with functional furniture pieces and then add on accessories. Just a few will do. Start dreaming up your outdoor space today so you can make it a reality tomorrow!