These outdoor living room ideas will help you transform your garden into the much-desired outdoor room your garden or backyard needs. All it takes is a little planning, design know-how and expert advice.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor kitchen ideas, or you want to extend your living space by creating a garden room, divide what you have into zones or update the garden furniture. Our relationship with our outdoor spaces has never been more important.
Outdoor living room ideas
Any change, big or small, can be transformative, so we asked the experts to share their garden ideas, insider tips and advice on where to start.
1. Design an outdoor living room fit for entertaining
Creating a permanent room outdoors encourages more outdoor living than ever. When designing the zone, take into account the need for protection from strong sun, as well as inclement weather.
This scheme from interior designer Stephanie Dunning, of Dunning and Everard, is centred beneath a pavilion structure featuring electronic side panels and a louvred roof that opens and closes at the touch of a button to provide a sheltered seating area, or an open to the elements sun lounging space.
These year-round structures offer smart spaces for garden bar ideas and are also perfect for incorporating homey touches to really enhance the living room feel, allowing you to have all the mod-cons you would expect in an indoor space.
This design includes integrated lighting, heating and speakers, while the single rendered wall has an in-built fireplace and storage niches.
Although these areas are sheltered, make sure to use outdoor-specific furniture and materials to prevent as much damage from winter weather and cold temperatures as possible.
2. Devise a social space for cozy evenings
Set up the perfect space this summer for gathering with friends and family by using comfortable furniture and incorporating thoughtful touches for style and ambience. Be eclectic in your choices to avoid a show-room staid feel.
‘Don’t feel you have to stick to a garden set, here mixing and matching furniture adds character,’ says Sue Jones, Co-founder and Creative Director at OKA, who styled this space.
If you're looking for small garden ideas or wondering what to include on a balcony, it’s best to stick to the essentials: somewhere comfortable to sit and clever pieces that can be adapted to your requirements.
Extra stools that serve as side tables when no-one is sitting on them are a useful addition, as are floor cushions which can be taken back inside when not in use.
A bistro table is a good choice for a small garden, as its base takes up very little space, and you can always bring dining chairs outside to go with it.
3. Prioritise comfort in an outdoor living room
When considering how to plan an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor lounge area, make sure to give it as much thought as you would any interior room, in terms of both appearance and feel.
This Grandemare sofa, designed by Antonio Citterio for Flexform is a perfect example of translating all the practicality and comfort of a classic upholstered, indoor sofa into an outdoor piece by utilising a water-repellent laminated fabric.
Furniture like this is not only ideal for alfresco lounging, but great for flexibility with indoor-outdoor spaces.
Enhance the style of the space further by ensuring you layer up soft furnishings and accessories. Throws and cushions can change color schemes with ease, while also making the space more inviting.
Outdoor rugs, too, heighten the ‘zoned’ feeling of the area, while adding another layer of comfort. Finish by lighting as you would indoors, with outdoor lighting ideas such as freestanding garden floor lamps, hurricane lamps or even candles.
4. Plan a considered space
Whether you want to level up your outdoor dining ideas or you're designing a new outdoor living room, it’s important to consider what you want the space to offer you.
Is it to be an oasis? A social hub? A cooking or dining space? Created as a relaxing retreat, this area utilises tall, layered planting and a fireplace chimney to help shut out the rest of the world.
‘The idea was to create a space to get away from all of the external activity,’ says interior designer Tim Clarke who designed this space. ‘With its fireplace and lush planting, including palms to sit under, a true escape was created.’
5. Build a firepit in an outdoor living room
Striking outdoor fireplace ideas are the ultimate centrepiece for gathering around as the sun goes down. The layout of your outdoor furniture can help to inform which style you should look for. A chiminea is a great choice for directing fire at a specific area.
Braziers and fire pits, like the Ignis from Morso, pictured, may provide less direct warmth, but have the benefit of creating an atmosphere that can be enjoyed from all directions, and are usually suitable for cooking on, too.
6. Embrace a Bohemian garden theme
‘A beautifully dressed tent will allow you to create the festival mood at home,’ says Nicky Marks, founder of Raj Tent Club, who created this party pergola.
‘From a sumptuous shaded lounging area to a dramatic setting for drinks or dining, personalise the look and feel using draped fabrics, garlands, lanterns, tea lights and layers of cushions for comfort. Hang pictures or mirrors from the tent frame, and use indoor furniture, be it vintage or modern, to put your stamp on the space.’
7. Set up a living room under shelter
Before designing the décor, consider the look of your backyard, and also the surrounding landscape.
Is it cottage style or formal? Incorporating the strongest themes and shapes in your garden through color, pattern or line can be a good departure point for planning an outdoor living room scheme.
Also, think carefully about how you’d like to use the space. A garden living room can be used as an extra sitting room, a peaceful sanctuary for enjoying your garden all year round, or a home office or ‘quiet zone.’
8. Invest in the best garden furniture you can afford
Whether you’re catering for family gatherings or looking for a secluded spot to soak up the summer sun, we recommend investing in the best quality garden furniture you can afford.
Start by measuring your outdoor living room area and deciding what type of furniture will best suit your needs and lifestyle. A bistro two-seater table and chairs is perfect for romantic alfresco dining on a city balcony, whereas a large sofa set is a good choice for a sociable family household.
If you’re going to be using your space primarily for mealtimes, consider picking up several additional folding chairs to have on hand for when extra guests pop over.
9. Plan an outdoor living room that you can use all year-round
Nothing recharges the batteries like a sunny afternoon spent out-side in the backyard. Whether you like to sit and chat, curl up with a good book, or stretch out for a snooze, it is vital to invest in functional seating that can be used all year-round.
Choose garden furniture that will stand the test of time by investing in a high quality product, but remember to care for it properly to make it last.
Where possible, aim to try before you buy to ensure the seats are comfy and the finish of the materials is what you’re expecting. Take a look online before purchasing to read reviews, too.
10. Position a pergola and lounge by the pool
Take inspiration from Mediterranean garden ideas to create the perfect place for poolside lounging. Think about where you’re going to be using your lounger, dining set or garden sofa.
Sofa-style seating tends to be quite hefty so will need a more permanent set-up, but opting for a modular seating arrangement will give you the flexibility to re-jig the layout if you fancy a change. Make sure you have a firm, level lawn, concrete paving or decking so your furniture won’t tip or sink.
Finally, drape your pergola with grape vines for dappled sunlight and a truly tropical feel.
How do I create an outdoor living room?
Use every opportunity to entertain al fresco style or just to enjoy living in your garden this summer. With furniture and accessories that don’t cost the earth, it is even easier than ever to create that outside room you’ve always dreamed of.
Before you buy anything too big and bulky, think about where you’ll store it out of season. Folding loungers take up less shed-space than fixed loungers, which can be bulky and awkward to manoeuvre, although they can often be stacked vertically.
Modular units are easy to take apart and can be stacked on top of each other in a shed or garage.
When it comes to cushions, make sure they’re detachable so you can take them off and store them away overnight or in bad weather, with zip-off covers that are easy to wash.
For poolside loungers, avoid cushions altogether and opt for textilene, a stretchy PVC mesh sling that is waterproof and dries off quickly. The surface is springy, making it ultra comfy to lie on.
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