5 designer-approved tips for creating 'the perfect outdoor space' that balances chic and cozy

Interior designer Jordan Samson just shared his best advice for designing a cozy outdoor space that doesn't compromise on style. Here's what to know

Three outdoor spaces
(Image credit: Amber Dunford Designs; Original BTC; Little Greene)

When designing our homes, outdoor spaces are often left until last. But with the weather warming up and the days getting longer, it's wise to give your patio or yard a second look. Just because these spaces are outside doesn't mean they don't deserve designer treatment – and with just a few simple spruces, you'll be left with an outdoor space that blends beautifully with the rest of your design scheme.

If you're at a loss for how to upgrade your outdoor lounge space, though, you're in luck – interior designer Jordan Samson just took to Instagram to share five clever tips that'll 'extend your living space' straight into the backyard. And with attention paid to everything from mood lighting to built-in seating, he hasn't left anything out. Here's all you need to know about designing the ultimate outdoor living room, without sparing style.

How to 'extend your living space' to the yard

A post shared by Jordan Samson

A photo posted by jordansamsondesign on

First things first, Jordan suggests thinking of your outdoor space 'as an extension of your interior.' And while that's much easier said than done, he offers five simple tips to get the indoor-outdoor look down. Here's what the designer had to say about luxurious, liveable outdoor spaces.

1. Create 'intentional' zones

serena and lily outdoor umbrella

(Image credit: Serena & Lily)

Jordan's first tip for designing a welcoming outdoor lounge is breaking the space 'down into smaller, intentional zones' – just as you'd do with an expansive, open-concept space indoors. Extend your indoor spaces out with designated zones, 'like an outdoor dining space near your kitchen,' says Jordan. From there, you'll be able to curate styled sections of your outdoor space with ease. Create vignettes throughout and keep the greenery real, and you'll have an organized, comfort-forward space all year round, Jordan says.

'We can treat those zones just like an interior space, starting with a variation in height. You can include a variation of potted and hardscaped plants in varying sizes. Just please no fake grass and plants – we are outside,' he adds.

2. Take it further with built-in features

pergola and outdoor dining set painted with Little Greene paint

(Image credit: Little Greene)

'You can also take it a step further with a pergola structure, or maybe a sunken patio with a built-in bench,' Jordan adds. 'Or, just keep it super simple with a good old umbrella.'

If you're lucky enough to have the space and budget, built-in structures like gazebos, pavilions or covered outdoor kitchens can help define each distinct zone within your outdoor space. Plus, they provide relief from the sun, a welcome addition to the yard for the hottest of summer days. Consider the placement of these features carefully before making the jump, as they often cannot be moved – put function and comfort first when selecting.

3. Mix and match materials

tiled patterned patio with modern sun loungers in front of a brick garden room

(Image credit: Ca' Pietra)

'It's also great to have a variety of materials,' says Jordan. 'Mixing pavers, gravel and wood decking will add a ton of visual interest.'

Outdoor spaces open up a whole new world of material possibilities, so get creative with your choices. Whether paving the ground or building up fences, there's plenty of room to bring texture and depth to every surface. Plus, 'you can use an outdoor rug to help define spaces and add texture,' Jordan says. Adding coziness and charm to any outdoor space, a rug will lend a helping hand in defining each zone of the yard while contributing to the homey atmosphere.

4. Experiment with your furniture selection

An outdoor furniture setup in front of a paneled wooden wall

(Image credit: Amber Dunford Designs)

Jordan's next tip has to do with outdoor furniture, and this is where your interior design style comes in full force. Jordan says you can steer clear of matching sets of tables and chairs – instead, let your taste shine, and blend the look from indoors to out. With coordinating color palettes and patterns, channel your home's interior look, and select a characterful mix of furniture.

'Don't be afraid to mix and match furniture. This can be a great way to bring in some colors and patterns from your interior to create some cohesion,' he says.

5. Opt for ambient lighting

An outdoor dining table with two ambient lamps

(Image credit: Original BTC)

'Most important, ambient lighting,' says Jordan. 'String lights, candles and lanterns are crucial to make the outdoors feel cozy.'

Just because you're outdoors doesn't mean lighting doesn't matter – just think of all the evenings you'll spend on the porch once summer's here in full swing. Invest in a handful of ambient outdoor light fixtures, both set-in-stone and portable, so you'll be well-lit and at ease through the whole of the season.

Jordan's five straightforward outdoor living room tips cover all the must-have elements, and make outdoor design seem easy. By carving out zones within your space and dressing each as you would a room indoors, your home will finally feel complete – and be fully ready for summer in a snap.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.