Leviton Home Solutions

HouzzLauren Dunec Hoang, Houzz
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We’re immediately drawn to certain outdoor seating areas: a table and chairs under a shady veranda, a lounge overlooking a view of the garden, chairs drawn up around a fire pit. If you have an existing seating area or are considering adding one to your back lawn or patio, take a look at these 10 ideas to make your outdoor gathering place a little more alluring.

Katherine Webster Inc, original photo on Houzz
Katherine Webster Inc, original photo on Houzz

Mimic the look of your dream vacation spot

Set the scene for relaxation by styling your outdoor seating area with design details that remind you of being on holiday. If you have fond memories of dining alfresco in the Italian countryside, look for ways to pull the look and feel of Tuscany into your backyard by using crunchy, warm-toned gravel and bistro-style furniture. Dreaming of beach vacations? Style your outdoor seating area with lounge chairs, seafoam green cushions and glass lanterns.

The London Gardener Ltd, original photo on Houzz
The London Gardener Ltd, original photo on Houzz

Treat your outdoor room like your living room

We go to great lengths to make the insides of our homes feel inviting — investing in comfortable furniture, adding layers of color and texture with textiles, choosing accessories for tabletops — and we should bring the same intention to our outdoor spaces. Try adopting the mindset you would use when arranging your living room as you consider your outdoor seating area.

Are there ways to make your backyard lounge look and feel more comfortable, such as with cozy throw blankets or colorful pillows? If you have an outdoor table, consider placing small potted plants such as herbs or succulents as living centerpieces.

If the fences surrounding your outdoor room look empty, plant flowering vines to trail up the sides or hang accent pieces like antique lanterns for interest.

Create a sense of privacy

Make your backyard seating area feel like a secluded retreat, rather than a place where you’re on display to neighbors, with the use of hedge plants, trees, fencing and arbors. Screening can be key in making small urban gardens feel inviting. In larger gardens, increasing the privacy around an outdoor seating area — such as surrounding a dining table with hedges and lush borders — can help make a space feel more intimate.

The Garden Builders, original photo on Houzz
The Garden Builders, original photo on Houzz

Consider the location of your seating area

Where are you most drawn to in the garden? You may be more inclined to sit in one area in the morning versus another spot in the afternoon. Make note of the path of the sun as it changes throughout the day and from season to season. Anchor your outdoor seating areas where you naturally want to hang out, and you’ll be more inspired to spend time outside.

L’esprit au vert, original photo on Houzz
L’esprit au vert, original photo on Houzz

Carve out multiple areas

Conversely, create multiple destinations in a backyard or on a terrace, with two or three seating areas, each with a different purpose.

The designer of this city roof deck in Paris divided the space into three seating areas, each with specific use: a trio of chairs for hosting a small group, a built-in seating nook for reading — or extra seating for larger groups — and a single lounge for relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.

This strategy can maximize utility in a small space and provide plenty of reasons to get outside.

Design for your group size

Whether you often have a couple of friends over after work, host dinner parties or prefer to keep your garden as a private retreat for one or two, design your seating area to best accommodate your group size.

If you host the occasional larger party, keep things flexible with a mix of built-in seating and open areas where you can easily set up a folding table and chairs.

For groups of one or two people, smaller patios tucked into garden nooks — such as at the end of a pathway or beneath an ornamental tree — can feel more inviting than larger, more open spaces.

Donna Lynn Landscape Designer, original photo on Houzz
Donna Lynn Landscape Designer, original photo on Houzz

Anchor under a canopy

Particularly in warm climates, one is naturally drawn to the dappled shade areas under the canopy of a tree or vine-covered veranda. If you have a mature tree in your garden, pull a table or pair of chairs beneath it to take advantage of the leafy shade and feeling of seclusion created by the branches. No mature trees? Consider putting up a gazebo or building an arbor large enough to create shade for a cafe table and chairs.

Keep it casual

Outdoor seating areas don’t need to look professionally designed to be inviting. In fact, the opposite is often true. Casual outdoor seating areas can often feel more laid-back and encourage you and your guests to relax. To make an inviting, impromptu outdoor seating area, spread a blanket out on the lawn or take advantage of floor space on the deck with a soft outdoor rug and seat cushions.

Studio William Hefner, original photo on Houzz
Studio William Hefner, original photo on Houzz

Plan the position of your seating area

If you’re looking for more reasons to be drawn outside to enjoy your backyard, position your seating area where you can see it from inside.

Look for sightlines from the home, like the view from a living room window, and consider the layout of your outdoor seating area accordingly.

Catching a glimpse of a sunny lounge or a rocking chair overlooking the garden while inside the house can be enough to tempt you outside.

Bring on the glow

Instantly change the mood of your outdoor seating area in the evening from shadowy to alluring with the addition of subtle outdoor lights. Consider a combination of light sources to create the effect you’d like.

For example, make the setting feel romantic with the flicker of candles or subtle glow of downlighting on trees. Use twinkling cafe lights overhead and an inviting outdoor fire pit to set the mood for a backyard party.

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