Staying in is the new going out, and outdoor design has never been better. This year's trends push outdoor spaces to work harder to create the experiences you crave in a stylish, thoughtfully designed atmosphere.

By Kristina McGuirk
April 30, 2020
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Outdoor living in 2020 reflects the same expectations you have for your home's interior. But until now, design details were mostly saved for inside. To bridge the divide between indoors and out, your backyard, porch, or patio should support everyday life, not just supplement it. So how can you bring the decor ideas you love outside? We talked to designers and style experts to uncover the latest trends in outdoor living, including natural elements, warm colors, and fetching finishes that provide interior-like comfort and style.

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Ann VanderWiel Wilde

1. Warm Outdoor Accents

Get ready for the return of softer shades of yellow, orange, green, and pink in outdoor living. "In Miami, modern styles and bright colors are de rigueur, but after being stuck inside for long periods of time, all consumers will likely gravitate towards brighter colors," says Courtney Cachet, Miami-based designer and style expert.

Many retailers are using warm tones in their 2020 outdoor accessories, giving pops of color to decorative lighting, outdoor rugs, furniture, and more. "This summer product collection is inspired by the colors, architecture, and vibrant street life of cities like Havana, Cuba," says Abbey Stark, senior interior design leader at IKEA. "It is all about broadening the mind, about being relaxed and open to the energy of outside influences."

And outdoor decor isn't the only place we're seeing these pastel hues: There's also a new peach-lemonade rose that brings the sweet shades to your garden.

Courtesy of Belgard

2. Biophilic Design

A trendy concept in commercial design (think: living walls and communal green areas), biophilic design is now finding its way home. In outdoor spaces, this approach translates to a purposeful inclusion of nature, not simply relying on being outside. "Natural elements or elements that remind us of nature are increasingly being integrated into design," says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes at Belgard. Part of what drives this trend is the physical and mental health benefits of being in nature.

Decks and trellis fences or screens made from natural wood and wood-look finishes can help integrate outdoor spaces with their surroundings. What really defines this look right now, however, is contrasting textures. Consider pairing "smooth porcelain intertwined with the lawn or permeable pavers broken up by the rough finish of gravel," recommends Raboine.

Courtesy of Deckorators

3. Aluminum Railings

Deck railings aren't typically the first thing homeowners think about when designing an outdoor space, but they are certainly one of the first things you see. "Railings are becoming a much bigger part of the design experience," says Sean Collinsgru, a Deckorators certified professional and owner of Premier Outdoor Living LLC in Palmyra, New Jersey. "They're a vertical element that really catches your eye."

Welded aluminum railings in a black finish are a popular choice lately, Collinsgru says. Style-wise, a simple look is timeless and complements many aesthetics, including farmhouse and modern. Plus, aluminum is durable, low-maintenance, and wears well, so it's a smart investment in an outdoor living space.

Cachet agrees that when it comes to surfaces and touchable elements, choosing the right finish is a big factor this outdoor season. "With everyone obsessed with cleanliness, we will definitely see a trend towards finishes that are easy to clean and maintain," she says.

Aniko Levai

4. Experienced-Based Spaces

Outdoor living involves a lot more than just conversational patio furniture arrangements. This year, exterior areas are being designed with a bigger focus on how we live in and utilize the space we have. "People realize that living space is not just confined to the walls around them," says Chris Camfferman, outdoor living expert and managing director of marketing for Deckorators.

Homeowners are approaching outdoor living spaces with an image in their heads of the experiences they want to have, rather than ideas of how it looks. This includes dreams of unwinding at an outdoor bar or cooking for the family at a pizza oven. "Outdoor cooking and entertaining have been prevalent over the years, but we're seeing that expand to more specific uses like outdoor yoga studios, meditation spaces, reading nooks, all the way to putting greens and full-on family rooms," Camfferman says.

Many homeowners are also gravitating toward features they might have taken for granted in their daily lives. Expect 2020 outdoor designs to reflect "things I would want to have if I ever get stuck at home again," says Cachet.

Ed Gohlich

5. Designer Deck Floors

Decks and patios are a staple of outdoor design, but they're usually something you walk over without much notice. But today's new products offer more flexibility to create stylish flooring. "We're blending complementary colors from inside the home (or from outside based on siding, trim, or windows) on the deck's surface," says Camfferman.

Modern inlays on decks outline the entire structure or highlight one area, such as around a dining space. Varied-width planks can also create subtle patterns that are so prevalent in indoor wood, vinyl, and tile flooring.

Jessica Sample

6. Bridging Indoor and Outdoors

"Your outdoor space should feel like an extension of your home," says Stark. To bring the feeling of an interior outside, she suggests using string lights and pendant lights to give the illusion of a ceiling (one that still lets you see the stars!).

Another way to open your home to the outdoors is through folding glass doors and windows, which help create a seamless integration of house to yard, says Collinsgru. "We're really just doing everything we can to model the outdoor rooms that we create kind of like the interior of a house," he says. Getting that same feeling of intimacy is a big part of this outdoor trend. Elements such as privacy walls, awnings, and landscaping help provide solitude.

Dustin Peck

7. Eye-Catching Outdoor Lighting

Essential for enjoying outdoor spaces in the evenings, good landscape lighting boosts nighttime safety and provides illumination for tasks like grilling. Now that outdoor living is incorporating more indoor design elements, Collinsgru says outdoor lighting is also adapting. "We like to strategically place up-lighting and different kinds of landscape lighting so that it illuminates it and highlights all those cool elements you put into it," he says. Consider adding solar landscape lighting to showcase a pathway, string lights for seating areas, or motion-sensor lights for security.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
May 23, 2020
Love all of the ideas! I would like to load some of my outdoor living pictures