Are you looking for some sea, sand, and sun? Craving to escape the city and have that much needed long break in nature? Yes, me too.
Pandemic lockdowns made us realize how important it is to spend time outdoors. Similarly, it showed us the disparity of access to urban green spaces for different members and areas of society.
Therefore, in this article, we’re going to show you easily doable ways to spruce up and spice up your outdoor space for varying uses. Following these will make your outdoors ready for family gatherings, BBQs, the currently popular trend of WFO, or simply just for random hangout sessions. Whether you have a small balcony, a wrap around patio or a sprawling backyard, these design tips will work just fine for you.
1. Think of fun yet suitable furniture
Since we’re talking about reviving a space, a combination of fun and (slightly) practical always works. First and foremost, make sure your furniture is outdoor-friendly – like rattan, water hyacinth. If you’re more into wood, you still have options in teak, cypress or cedar. Next, many outdoor spaces are usually more flexible compared to indoor ones. So, light and movable pieces might work in certain areas and especially useful in tinier outdoors.
And just a little after thought: Although this may take longer, you can get your family and friends to help you create interesting DIY pieces to make the entire decorating process more fun.
2. Don’t forget to add comfort
Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean that you need to limit cushion comfort! There are many outdoor-friendly pillows, rugs, and floor seating you can explore. Another option is trying out the bohemian style where you’ll have swing chairs, more flexible-type pillow-on-pillow seating and interesting touches of seemingly free-spirited and relaxed aesthetics.
3. Add (real) life with lots of plants
Plants are slowly becoming must-haves in indoor spaces. But sprucing up an outdoor area would still definitely require little pops of pretty potted greenery. These are more straightforward, cheap and simple moves that instantly brighten up a space – no need for additional frills that may overshadow the beauty of their natural shades.
Plus, you’ll have a ton of choices – from tall, shade-worthy plants to cute little tabletop babies. Choose the height and width depending on where you want to put them, usually in corners or beside your seating arrangements. Best part is, your newly minted plant babies will be better cared for because they have sunlight, fresh air, and rain.
Photo source: Photo by ADZA
4. Make your own small herb garden
While you’re enlivening up the space with plants, why don’t you also try your hand at an herb garden? This little pocket will not be overlooked since herb leaves are distinct from other houseplants. Plus, seeing them in little pots and containers will make a cute addition to your outdoor space. Look after them properly and you’ll have an endless supply of freshness in your own home that’ll also be the envy of your visiting family and friends.
Then, after you’ve gotten the hang of that, add some cherry tomatoes and lemon for pretty and bright colors!
5. Brighten it up with soft lights
If you like spending time outdoors at night, then you’ll need this. Lights. For daily use and ensuring your outdoor space is well-lit and visible, use fairy lights or a few string lights that you can hang around the area or on your furniture. Another option is to have floor lamps or floor lights. The soft glow allows the space to be relaxing and welcoming while still giving you enough light to have dinner or read a book.
These could work if you’re having a gathering or party too. But perhaps you’d want to add a few more to make the space brighter and livelier.
6. Change or update the flooring
One sure fire way to spice up your outdoor space is giving your flooring a little update. You can revive the surface with a new layer of wood, repainting it another shade, or adding decorative tiles if you’re into that. On that last point, make sure that your floor design is the focal point of the space and tone down on the colors and patterns of your bigger outdoor furniture.
While you’re thinking about this point, up the ante further and make an elevated area if your space allows it. This way, it automatically creates two separate spaces for you outside. This flexibility and versatility will give you a lot more uses for your outdoor space, maybe even allow you to set up your WFO area!
Photo source: Style by Emily Henderson
7. Make it (kinda) private
When you’re picturing family gatherings, outdoor BBQ sessions, or simply quality alone time, you don’t want your snoopy neighbors looking in. Make it more private using fences, trellises, pergolas, hedges or tall plants. Trellises and pergolas do not take a long time to build, so if you’re in the mood for that, go for it! They can really beautify an outdoor space. And to spice it up more, get some climbing vines and plants ready to naturally decorate those lines and, in the process, provide some shade.
8. Give it a lively look and feel
Since you’ll want your outdoor space ready for different occasions, celebrations and gatherings, balance the touches of ‘lively’ with ‘welcoming’. An effortless way to do this is with furniture covers that can totally change the mood of your space. Another option is to change the lighting and add some flexible or colorful seating options. If this is not enough, see the next point.
Photo source: Good Housekeeping
9. Install a beverage cart
Yes! A bar cart outdoors is perfect for different scenarios; gotta keep hydrated and make it fun! Built-in beverage station on one of your lower walls will make an interesting decor in your outdoor space. It’s an eye-catcher and conversation started because it’s not a common move. You just have to make sure it’s in a shaded spot, and can be closed up for cleanliness and safety reasons.
If you’re not looking for something permanent, a rolling bar cart would do. These are very DIY-able. You could just as easily leave this outside whenever needed. And most importantly, if you’re having a family gathering, only display juices, soft drinks and other non-alcoholic drinks; then switch it up to showcase all your alcohol and wine during a friends’ night out.
Photo source: Cindy Hattersley Design
10. Use decorative plates and glasses
Are you the type that appreciates different decorative plates, glasses and crockery? Yes, me too. When having outdoor gatherings, or even just to give yourself a different experience, go for those mugs and plates you don’t bring out on a daily basis. Not only will it spice up your dining time, but these small decorative touches have the power to lift or change the mood of a gathering or occasion. Plus, it looks good in pictures.
11. Create a corner
Remember that point we mentioned earlier about making an elevated area? This is somewhat connected to that. Usually, there will be empty corners in outdoor spaces because of its rather irregular shape. Many use plants to fill it up or just keep it empty. But there are other ways to optimize that small area.
If you’re looking to create an elevated area, put it in the side where the shape is hard to make use of. Another way is to extend that small awkward spot by rearranging your furniture. By expanding that dead spot, you give it new life. These special corners can be more private spaces so you’re also giving yourself a little area for some ‘me’ time. Some options to explore are – creating a small reading nook, setting up a tiny WFO space, or a meditation corner. Separately, if space is really limited, it could be perfect space to install that bar cart we just mentioned earlier.
Photo source: Ideal Home UK