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How Do You Create A Great Outdoor Living Space?

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Comfortable seating is imperative, and plantscaping is essential, whether it’s done as [permanent] landscaping or in containers and pots. Fireplaces or fire pits contribute to a cozy environment, while water features can contribute to a relaxing space. —Kim McOwan, Charette Interior

I like to start with rugs, just like I do for interiors spaces. [A rug] defines the geometry of a space from the ground up. Once the rug is down, create one seating area for eating and another for lounging and conversation. Tie them together with accessories. Seat cushions for both areas should always be in a standard solid color for two reasons. If you get a permanent stain on a cushion, you want to make sure you can replace it. Second, your outdoor space will look too busy if all the seat cushions are prints. —Debra Funt, Debra Funt Interiors

Keep it informal and easy. Materials have to be comfortable on bare skin exposed in the warm weather, surfaces must clean easily from food spills, and the area has to be conducive to candlelit dinners. Indoor/outdoor rugs are my favorite. They dress up and define a space and clean up with a hose. It doesn’t get better than that. —Katherine Stern, Katherine Stern Design


Related: 9 Tips For Creating Indoor-Inspired Outdoor Spaces


Make it livable by furnishing it similarly to how you might furnish an indoor living space. Don’t forget about comfortable chairs, cocktail tables, side tables, lighting, pillows, and area rugs. I bring out my aqua outdoor cushions for my outdoor furniture—nothing says summer to me more than that bright blue-green color! —Claire Paquin, Clean Design

Appropriate lighting is a great tool to enhance your outdoor living space and set the mood. Once you have your areas mapped out with furniture, the options to add ambience with lighting are endless, depending how you [plan to] use your space: flickering candles, glowing Japanese lanterns, strings of white or multicolored lights, outdoor table or floor lamps, accent landscape lighting, traditional hanging lanterns, or extravagant sparkling chandeliers. —Valerie Lavine, Valerie Lavine Design

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