17 Outdoor Living Space Ideas to Update Your Yard, Deck, or Patio

outdoor patio furniture set on wooden deck
Photo: Kimberly Gavin

Whether you have a tight budget or are ready to splurge on a significant upgrade, we have an outdoor living space idea that can transform your deck, patio, porch, or yard. Make your favorite warm-weather spot more inviting and comfortable with one or more of our design tips.

01 of 17

Create Levels

outdoor seating area with multiple levels
Laurie Black

A multilevel outdoor living space idea will provide more options for creating separate areas to entertain, dine, and relax. Here, rustic metal steps connect each level to give the naturally elegant space an industrial touch.

02 of 17

Hang Unique Lighting

dave and jenny marrs with outdoor table
Jacob Fox

Add interest overhead and extend your outdoor space's usable hours by hanging pendants over the dining table. Here, woven pendants designed by Dave and Jenny Marrs for Better Homes and Gardens (from $47, Walmart) in different sizes and hung at varying levels provide a fun focal point in this neutral outdoor space. Powered by solar energy, each pendant will add warm light for up to eight hours—perfect for late-night summer dinners.

03 of 17

Put Up a Pergola

white wooden outdoor seating under pergola
Ed Gohlich

This outdoor living space idea defines your dining space with a pergola. It will make your dining area cozier for your guests, and the overhead covering will provide welcome shade on hot, sunny days. Hang a few lights from the pergola for a finished look that lets you continue using the space after the sun sets.

04 of 17

Make the Fireplace a Focal Point

outdoor sitting area with stone fireplace
Dan Piassick

This massive fireplace offers a stunning focal point while serving as one of two support walls for three large beams that give the impression of a ceiling. An assortment of seating options—a dining table, bar stools, and chairs for cozying up next to the fireplace—make this the perfect entertainment spot. Add decorative planters ($39, Walmart) filled with flowering plants for pops of bright summer colors.

05 of 17

Add a Stylish Privacy Wall

wooden deck with grilling area
Ed Gohlich

One key to any successful outdoor space is privacy. Here, a wooden wall serves double duty—offering privacy and an attractive backsplash for the outdoor kitchen. Lush plantings pick up the privacy where the wall leaves off.

06 of 17

Add a Fresh Twist on a Pergola

outdoor sitting area under pergola
Bob Stefko

This outdoor living space idea adds stand-out style by painting a pergola bright white. Rather than running all the beams in one direction, arranging them in a crisscross pattern adds interest overhead. Dark wicker furniture with colorful fabrics provides plenty of contrast.

07 of 17

Include a Spot to Swing

dave and jenny marrs outdoor porch swing
Jason Donnelly

Any outdoor living space benefits from lots of cozy seating. This oversized swing from our Better Homes and Gardens collection ($897, Walmart) is the perfect spot to curl up with a good book or relax and enjoy the beautiful flower garden. Add cozy outdoor throw pillows ($25, Walmart) in various coordinating designs to create the ultimate warm-weather reading nook.

08 of 17

Go Bold with Color

orange outdoor furniture
Michael Garland

Add a unique flair with this outdoor living space idea—choose a bold color for your furniture. On a budget? It's amazing what a can of spray paint will do for old, rusty furniture. The cheery orange used on this outdoor furniture is also found inside, helping connect indoor and outdoor spaces.

09 of 17

Enhance a Rustic Retreat

stone walkway with table and chairs
Andre' Baranowski

Install a flagstone patio or walk for an outdoor space with rustic, natural beauty. This home features a stone facade similar to the irregular stones used on the patio—connecting the house to its surroundings. Lush plantings dotted with bright, colorful flowers line both sides of the patio.

10 of 17

Install a Fountain

fountain in garden
James Carriere

A successful outdoor space takes into consideration all the senses, including sound. And no sound is more relaxing than moving water. An elegant fountain is an outdoor living space idea that uses one simple stream of water to create the perfect focal point for this small, sunken area.

11 of 17

Hang a Hammock

hammock under pergola
Erica George Dines

There's nothing quite like taking a Sunday afternoon nap in your backyard hammock. Don't worry if you don't have two perfectly spaced trees to hang one from. Instead, attach the hammock to a pergola like these homeowners did and still benefit from the shade the pergola provides. A hammock stand is another option.

12 of 17

Heat Things Up

wooden outdoor furniture on brick patio
David Tsay

A heating element hung from the pergola is a great outdoor living space idea that extends the seasonality of this space. Soft furniture and colorful throw pillows make it an even cozier relaxing spot. A few steps away, full-length glass doors and windows connect indoor and outdoor spaces.

13 of 17

Use Indoor Inspiration

outdoor sitting area with bar cart and artwork
Matthew Benson

When considering outdoor living space ideas, look at what you love about your indoor spaces and apply the same concepts. Here, a bright painting on the wall, matching throw pillows, cushioned furniture, and a beverage cart add comfort and convenience while giving a nod to indoor living.

14 of 17

Install a Gated Entry

entry gate into backyard with sitting area
Emily Followill

If you want to separate your outdoor space from your driveway or a street, but you want to maintain accessibility, consider a gated arbor. These homeowners opted for a shorter, curved-top gate to create separation without blocking views. A mix of bright whites and cool grays gives the space an elegant and sophisticated look.

15 of 17

Cover Up Overhead

white sofas under pergola near pool
Paul Dyer

A solid roof is a useful outdoor living space idea for protecting visitors from rain and other elements. It allows the homeowners to have comfy fabric-covered sofas outside. Like a painting on the wall, the structure supporting the roof frames the beautiful view of the pool and trees.

16 of 17

Add Style Underfoot

outdoor rug on porch
Courtesy of Walmart

A patterned area rug, like this one featuring braided white stripes from our Better Homes and Gardens collection ($78, Walmart), is a quick and easy way to give an outdoor space an updated look. Stylish and practical indoor-outdoor rugs made of fade- and mildew-resistant materials can add big impact with low maintenance.

17 of 17

Include Pillows for Pattern and Color

outdoor patio furniture set on wooden deck
Kimberly Gavin

Brightening an outdoor living space can be as easy as swapping out throw pillows. Here, bamboo chairs and a sofa featuring bright white cushions are accented with mismatched pillows featuring playful, seasonal patterns.

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