17 Ways to Refresh Your Outdoor Living Space

outdoor patio furniture set on wooden deck
Photo: Kimberly Gavin

No matter your budget, there are plenty of ways to make an outdoor living space pretty, practical, and even more enjoyable. Here are some of our favorites.

01 of 17

Create Levels

outdoor seating area with multiple levels
Laurie Black

A multilevel outdoor space provides 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

Define your outdoor dining area with a pergola. Not only will it make your dining area cozier for your guests, but the overhead covering will provide welcome shade on hot, sunny days. Hang a few lights from the pergola for finished looked that will allow you to continue using the space after the sun sets.

04 of 17

Fireplace Focal Point

outdoor sitting area with stone fireplace
Dan Piassick

This massive fireplace offers a stunning focal point while also serving as one of two support walls for three large beams that give the impression of a ceiling. A variety of seating options—a dining table, bar stools, and chairs for cozying up next to the fireplace—make this the perfect spot to entertain. Add decorative planters 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 providing an attractive backsplash for the outdoor kitchen. Lush plantings pick up the privacy where the wall leaves off.

06 of 17

Fresh Twist on a Pergola

outdoor sitting area under pergola
Bob Stefko

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

07 of 17

A Spot to Sit

dave and jenny marrs outdoor porch swing
Jason Donnelly

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

08 of 17

Go Bold

orange outdoor furniture
Michael Garland

Give your outdoor living space a unique flair by choosing 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

Rustic Retreat

stone walkway with table and chairs
Andre' Baranowski

For an outdoor space with rustic, natural beauty, install a flagstone patio or walk. 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 featuring one simple stream of water is the perfect focal point for this small, sunken outdoor space.

11 of 17

Hang a Hammock

hammock under pergola
Erica George Dines

There's nothing quite like taking a Sunday afternoon nap in your own backyard hammock. Don't worry if you don't have two perfectly spaced trees to hang one from. 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

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

13 of 17

Indoor Inspiration

outdoor sitting area with bar cart and artwork
Matthew Benson

When planning your outdoor space, consider the things 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

Gated Trellis

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 give the space an elegant and sophisticated look.

15 of 17

Cover Up

white sofas under pergola near pool
Paul Dyer

A solid roof protects this outdoor living space from rain and other elements, allowing 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

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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