There's few things as satisfying as spending time in your backyard, whether with friends and family or independently.
That's because fresh air, greenery and wide open, outdoor spaces are really, truly good for us. Business Insider reports that spending time outdoors is great for our health: it de-stresses us, improves our memory, conquers fatigue, lessens depression and anxiety and so much more. It's also just plain fun!
Luckily, you can build an inviting outdoor living space on a budget, and relatively quickly, too. There are tons of great outdoor living ideas on the internet, and many DIYers will walk you through every step of their own patio makeovers, outdoor living space renovations and more.
In this article, we'll dive into 10 wonderful ways to design outdoor living spaces, make your patio look nice, and create fun outdoor living areas for adults and kids alike. We'll have ideas for outdoor patio setups, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, unforgettable seating areas, plus plenty of charming outdoor decor ideas.
1. Build (Or Buy) a Fire Pit
Fire pits are an outstanding addition to any outdoor space because they create a crowd-pleasing focal point for your yard or outdoor area. They lend themselves to lingering conversations with friends and family on long, hot summer nights. But fire pits also offer warmth on cooler, shorter evenings in the fall, winter and spring, too.
Fire pits are an outdoor feature that'll turn your yard into everyone's favorite place to be. And there's a ton of fire pits to choose from. You could install a wood fire pit, a natural gas fire pit or a propane fire pit—whatever works best for you and your family.
No matter what type and design you choose, a fire pit will bring you one step closer to transforming your backyard into an outdoor living room. Just be sure to place comfy but safe furniture around the fire pit to encourage gathering.
You can build a DIY fire pit yourself, hire a contractor to help you, or buy one outright. For reference, a prefabricated fire pit could cost anywhere from $1,200 to $4,000. A high-end, custom one could cost upwards of $7,000.
Of course, when we talk about fire, we also need to talk about safety. Some tips: Ensure you install your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your house, but check with your city in case it has even stricter regulations on this. Keep a fire extinguisher (or at least a hose and water) nearby whenever you use the fire pit, too. And, while you're at it, have the whole family brush up on fire safety!
2. Create a Stunning Outdoor Dining Area
An outdoor dining area is the perfect place to gather, whether it's for a causal weekday dinner with the kids or a big summer soiree with your friends and family.
One of the best ways to create a gorgeous and inviting outdoor dining area is to anchor the space with an overhang. You could build a pergola, buy an umbrella, or even create an overhang using sheet metal. The aesthetics (and the budget) are completely up to you. What matters most is that you offer protection from the sun in a way that looks and feels good. These coverings also protect patio furniture, which can be quite expensive.
So, how much will it cost to cover your backyard dining area? For reference, a pergola will cost thousands of dollars, a good umbrella, a few hundred.
Remember, even the least expensive of overhangs can be dressed up with cute bistro lights, a few hanging plants, and cute outdoor garden decor, like this best-selling heart wind chime.
You'll also want to add ample outdoor seating. Patio furniture isn't always cheap, but there are typically deals to be had, especially at the end of the summer season.
We always recommend creating outdoor dining seating for at least 8, if space allows. But if your home is small, or you live in a townhouse or apartment, don't fret. Create whatever outdoor dining space you can, even if it's only a bistro table and two tiny chairs on a balcony or patio.
3. Design Smaller Seating Areas Throughout Your Outdoor Space
If your yard is on the larger size, you'll want to design and install not only a grand outdoor dining area, but also smaller seating areas throughout the property. By adding the right patio furniture, these smaller areas become miniature points of interest in your yard that welcome leisure, intimate conversation and tons of rest and relaxation. They also help fill out larger-sized outdoor living spaces, making them feel more complete.
Some of our favorite pieces of outdoor furniture are oversized chaise lounges, boldly-colored conversation sets, funky hammocks and old-fashioned rocking chairs. These furniture pieces are available in every shape, size, style and shade imaginable.
No matter how you choose to design each of your mini outdoor living spaces, don't forget to add small tables whenever possible, so that you, your family and your guests have a place to set down that sweat tea!
4. Fill Your Outdoor Space With Garden Decor
Once you've anchored your outdoor space with a fire pit, a large outdoor dining space, stylish patio furniture and a few smaller seating areas, it's time to sprinkle your yard with charming and unique garden decor. You can add a few pieces, like a cute dragonfly mobile and a corresponding rain gauge... or you can add a variety of different pieces, creating little vignettes in different areas of the property.
There are also tons of ways to make your own outdoor decor, if you and your family are feeling up for a craft.
5. Bring Your Living Room Outdoors
If you want to encourage your family to spend more time outside, it can help to bring some of their favorite indoor activities outside. If you have the space, add furniture like an outdoor couch and coffee table to your yard, deck or patio. (At least your teens can scroll through Instagram under the stars, instead of inside of their bedrooms.)
The more living room-inspired design elements you add to your outdoor living space, the cozier it'll be. Throw blankets, indoor/outdoor pillows and inviting, ambient lighting are all great investments. So are propane-powered heathers for cold nights and fans for hot days. If you live in a humid climate, mosquito nets and citronella candles or tiki torches can be helpful. If you live in an arid climate, misters can help keep you and your family refreshed.
If you live somewhere with extra strong sun or tons of rain, you will probably want to buy patio furniture covers for your most expensive pieces. You'll also want to look for cushions, rugs and other textiles that can either be washed or hosed down, since they're bound to get dirty while people are busy making memories in your backyard.
6. Add Outdoor Fun and Games
You've already mastered inviting seating areas, but now it's time to add a little recreation to your outdoor living space. There are plenty of nostalgic, oversized games you can set up on the patio that'll be hit with kids and adults alike. Jumbo-sized board games like Connect Four, Jenga and Chess are always a crowd pleasers.
Or you could invest in a vintage croquet set to add fun and charm to your backyard. Other options include cornhole, bean bag toss, bocce, disc golf, ladder-ball and more. There are so many great ways to encourage our family and friends to let loose and have some fun while visiting our outdoor living spaces.
Don't fret about what to choose—just pick something! After all, simple fun and games help everyone get the most out of outdoor living spaces.
7. Start Cooking Outdoors
The reason so many people want to start cooking outdoors is because the kitchen is such a focal point of any party. Why should you—the host—have to leave your own event to make lemonade and burgers for a crowd?
If you want to start cooking outdoors, you don't need much. You certainly don't need a $100,000 budget and an architect to draw up an outdoor kitchen design plan to make it happen. All you need is a grill—or even just a food-safe fire pit! Perhaps you can't install a wet bar this year, but you could maybe get a tiki hut and a little fridge to store ice-cold drinks.
Finding a way to create an outdoor kitchen in your backyard is a great investment. You'll enjoy it summer after summer. Here are some budget-friendly outdoor kitchen design ideas to get you inspired.
8. Make an Area That's Just for Kids
If you want to make your outdoor space and patio even more appealing to young children, consider investing in a treehouse, playhouse or other special area just for them. Playhouses inspire kids' imaginations, helping them have tons of fun while thinking outside the box.
Providing kids with special outdoor space also gives them a safe place to assert their independence, cool off from a tantrum and make memories with their own young friends and family.
There are tons of options available nowadays, from easy-to-assemble, pre-fabricated teepees to full on, custom-built playhouses that are nice enough to live in.
This is also a great opportunity to sit down with your children and find out what their ideal space would look like. Maybe they're craving a place to paint, to read, to play music. Together, you can find a way to make the space a perfect place to spend summer days in the backyard.
Once you and your littles have settled on a structure, it's time to decorate. Outdoor floor pillows, solar-powered lights and miniature furniture all complete the look, helping to create a kids-only outdoor seating area.
9. Add a Bird House to Your Backyard
Bird houses are more than just an adorable little addition to your outdoor living space. And they do a whole lot more than encourage your feathered friends to stop by and stay awhile.
Bird houses help keeps birds safe from predators and from harsh weather. They are also good for controlling pests. And some bird house enthusiasts believe that by supporting local birds, you are also supporting weed control, flower pollination and conservation.
Our Happy Gardens team has done an outstanding job of sourcing unique bird houses for every style of home, garden and patio. Each handcrafted bird house is durable, easy to assemble and has an interesting design. We think they'll make the perfect place for your birds to perch, parent and party.
One of our favorite birdhouses, the ultra-feminine She Shed Birdhouse, has been a customer favorite lately.
10. Make Space for a Happy, Healthy Herb Garden
Fresh herbs are one of the simplest ways to elevate your everyday food, but they can be expensive and wasteful to buy in bulk at the market. After all, you may just want a few parsley leaves to garnish your grilled chicken, and just a few basil leaves to finish off a caprese salad.
Luckily, herbs are one of the easiest things to grow outdoors, too. Start with a few staples, like basil, parsley, rosemary and mint. Once your feeling confident, invest in a few more plants.
You can grow herbs right in the ground, of course, but every backyard is different. If you only have a small outdoor patio, you could grow your herbs vertically or in a few hanging pots.
Need more ideas for our outdoor living space? Here are 5 DIY, budget-friendly garden and outdoor projects you and your family can tackle today.
About Happy Gardens
Happy Gardens carefully selects and sells charming, unique garden decor and merchandise that's been cheerfully chosen for people who love the great outdoors. Whether you're searching for the perfect garden statue or the most unique wind chime, Happy Gardens is here to help. Every product we carry on our website is cheerful, charming and carefully constructed.
Our collections include a wide variety of beloved and best-selling products like bird houses, statuettes, rain gauges and wind chimes. We've also recently added to our collection adorable merchandise like tote bags, wine glasses, coffee mugs and mini planters that are perfect gifts for the gardener. If you're looking for a gift for a friend or family member, we know you'll find some great options in our online store!
Our "Happy Tribe" of customers includes garden lovers from all over the United States. Some of them have turned their small, urban outdoor living spaces into truly magical places. Others have enormous backyards they've transformed into breathtaking outdoor living rooms. No matter who you are, where you live or what kind of design you love, you're going to fit right in.
To learn more about our products and get more outdoor living space ideas, join our email list. Or follow us on Instagram for gorgeous garden inspiration and some great ideas about how to incorporate our products into your backyard, patio and outdoor living space.
Have a question or need help picking out that perfect something for your home, garden our outdoor living space? We're here to help via chat... or give us a ring!