Outdoor Room Designs

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Winter may have ravaged your yard or garden, but with a few easy updates you can quickly be ready for summer parties. Designating specific outdoor areas for entertaining, relaxing or sport, then decorating and landscaping accordingly, will not only expedite your summertime backyard renovation, but create mood specific zones for family and friends to truly enjoy your outdoor space.

Create Outdoor "Rooms"

Rather than trying to tackle an entire backyard revamp, focus on specific areas of your yard, divided by what you plan to use them for. Concentrating on one area at a time can not only make the project simpler and quicker, but the themed "rooms" or "spaces" will also create the perfect atmosphere for summer party guests.

Pick a Theme: Decide which areas of your yard or garden will be for entertaining, which are best suited for quiet and relaxation, and which are perfect for kids' (or adults') play areas.

Design Accordingly: By selecting the appropriate landscaping, furniture and backyard accessories, you can direct the mood and flow of parties. Providing guests with a lively backyard bar for parties, a relaxing Adirondack chair for tea in the garden or quick rest benches in open play areas are perfect examples of designing for backyard "rooms". Adding specifically scented flowers or accessories like lanterns, fountains and tables places the final touch on any backyard area.

outdoor room designs pool area tropical

Outdoor Room Themes

According to available space, budget and desired uses, select themes for your backyard spaces that best suit your needs.

Dining Room: If you plan on hosting outdoor dinner parties, select an area in your backyard that best provides an intimate, welcoming feel. Preferably on a solid surface patio, the dining area should be close enough to the house to provide easy access to the kitchen and bathrooms, while still retaining the distinct atmosphere of the outdoors. Avoid planting fragrant flowers like Mock Orange, Angel's Trumpet or Tuberose, as their scents can interfere with the taste of food. Utilizing plants and décor to create a cozy, garden setting around the table will create the sense of a dining "room" outside, while guests still enjoy the open air and landscape of a backyard. Use lanterns, large bulb string lights or candles to keep the dining area well lit for guests to eat their meal. The best garden accessories for decorating your outdoor dining area include:

  • Tall backed chairs
  • Low to medium height outdoor dining tables
  • Iron lanterns
  • Candles
  • Decorative Pots and Planters
  • Outdoor rugs

outdoor room designs outdoor dining room

Bar: Many homes are now including in-home and backyard bars. Whether you plan to install a fully stocked outdoor wet bar, or simply entertain guests with a drink cart, providing a designated area for socializing can enhance the mood of any gathering, and create the perfect atmosphere for cocktails with the girls or game night with the boys. Provide ample, comfortable seating, fun lighting and avoid uneven or rough flooring like stepping stones or large gravel. Also, be sure to place outdoor side tables near chairs, allowing guests to set down their drinks. The best garden accessories for decorating your outdoor bar area include:

  • Small, well cushioned chairs
  • Outdoor couches
  • Iron accent tables
  • Colored string lights
  • Umbrellas
  • Decorative serving trays
  • Large drink dispensers
  • Small outdoor refrigerator/freezer
  • Outdoor shelving units

Rest Area: For a more relaxing setting in your backyard or garden, create a peaceful rest area. Pick a secluded and/or corner location, include comfortable seating and consider installing a fountain for added tranquility. Placing butterfly and bird feeders around the edges of your rest area will attract beautiful wildlife, while shrubs or small trees keep out distractions. Using trellises to drape flowering ivy and support taller plants provides even more definition to the rest areas borders. Use lanterns, small string lights or candles in tall hurricane vases to create minimal and peaceful lighting. Planting softly scented flowers like Jasmine and Roses can provide a light fragrance to enhance the serene atmosphere. The best garden accessories for decorating your outdoor rest area include:

  • Hammocks
  • Adirondack Chairs
  • Chimes
  • Fountains
  • Bird houses
  • Butterfly feeders
  • Fire pits

Play Area: Yards with open, grassy expanses are the perfect place for family soccer matches, water balloon fights and croquet. For this space, avoid planting or installing barriers, and allow the open area to be defined by its comparative lack of borders. Make sure the lawn is free of rocks or loose gravel to prevent injury, and place bench seating on several sides for spectators and tired participants. Lamp posts and large string lights provide ample yet tasteful play area lighting, and placing weatherproof cushions on each bench will offer comfortable seating season after season. The best garden accessories for decorating your outdoor play area include:

  • Benches
  • Lamp posts
  • Large bulb string lights
  • Water resistant cushions
  • Outdoor thermometers
  • Game sets for croquet, horse shoes, bocce ball, etc.

Pool Area: Everyone loves a good pool party, but when guests get out of the water, it's all about ample seating, plenty of shade, and a fun atmosphere. Place chaise lounges, low chairs with nearby accent tables and well cushioned benches around the pool, with at least one umbrella per seating area. Curtain shielded cabanas provide extra protection from the sun, and a place to rest. Tiki torches and well fastened string lights illuminate nighttime swims, while tropical scented flowers like Scarlet Pineapple Sage, Japanese Honeysuckle and Gardenia will set the mood. The best garden accessories for decorating your pool area include:

  • Torches
  • String lights
  • Water resistant cushions
  • Chaise lounges
  • Iron accent tables
  • Floating lights

By separating a yard or garden into manageable, themed "rooms", summertime outdoor entertaining can be simple and fun. Picking landscaping to suit each area will create a fun environment for friends and family to enjoy, while the perfect décor adds the finishing touches to an outdoor dining room, bar, rest/play or pool area.

Last Updated: February 8, 2013
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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