You are here

Tobi's Tips for Outdoor Rooms

6 tips for creating great outdoor living spaces

By Tobi Fairley

When designing outdoor rooms like patios, screen porches, lanais, and kitchens, follow the same design guidelines as for indoor rooms to make your family and friends feel comfortable. 

1. Offer great seating Cater seats to the activity: You’ll want fab loungers for sitting in the sun, comfy seats for eating and talking, and of course, some umbrellas to cover them when they need a little shade.

2. Height matters Be sure any stools or seats outside are the proper height for the table or counter. Comfortable dining seats are usually about 19 inches off the ground for a 30-inch-tall dining table. A counter is 36 inches high and a bar is 42 inches high, so your chair heights have to be taller for those surfaces. For a lounge chair or chaise you can go a little lower than a 19-inch seat height because guests are usually more relaxed in these pieces. 

3. Lighting is key Provide task lighting for preparing food and ambient lighting to allow guests to linger over drinks after sunset. I love stringing market lights across our backyard to make parties even more festive.

4. Help everyone relax Include comfy pillows on seating, and offer ottomans to let guests put their feet up or set down their drinks. Remember outdoor rugs, throws, curtains, and other textiles to make them feel cozy.

5. Go natural For a welcoming look, cut some lovely stems from your backyard, or use purchased flowers that complement the decor. Consider decorative planters full of fragrant herbs and flowers too. 

6. Have fun with patterns, colors, and accessories Just because you are outdoors and products need to be cleanable and durable doesn’t mean they have to be boring! In my backyard I brought my signature look with bright pops of color like my pink umbrellas and cushions. I used favorite motifs like Greek key outdoor pillow trim, hexagonal mosaic pool tile, and black-and-white checkerboard concrete tiles for the patio surface. And then there are my most fun additions—a giant outdoor chess set and a big pink flamingo in the pool.

Bonus On top of these must-haves, don’t forget about luxuries like outdoor TVs, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens, and more. The sky is the limit with outdoor rooms!