Room With a View: Outdoor Living Spaces

Too often we spend our time outdoors working, and we fail to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. When it’s time to relax, we leave the open spaces and refreshing breezes and head indoors. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Think about what helps you relax in your home (shade, privacy, a place to sit, a bit of warmth) and you’ll realize that you can easily create those features outside. Here are a few examples of ways you can transform outdoor space into living space.

Where the living is easy
This deck looks just like a living room, except for the blue sky and evergreen boughs where the ceiling should be. Wood and stone are the stars of this scene, and durable outdoor furniture is as inviting as the seating in your family room.


  • Outdoor fireplace: A source of warmth allows you to linger longer when the nights turn chilly. If you don’t have space or funds for a handsome chimney, a small fire pit will do the job.
  • Wood and stone: The wood-lined eaves, smooth cedar decking and fine stonework marry nature with interior-quality finishes.

The corner café
Few rooms could rival this patio for sheer beauty, yet what makes this spot inviting is the way it reinvents indoor elements. The vine-covered pergola acts as a ceiling, providing shade and shelter; the hanging light fixture adds illumination and a sense of finery and convenience. With a lush patio like this, your dining room might start gathering dust.


  • Pergola: A quick way to create an outdoor room is to put up an overhead structure, no matter how small or simple. Colorful vines will add visual interest.
  • Fabrics: Look for acrylic blends that are long-wearing and resistant to UV rays and water. You’ll still need to give outdoor cushions some care (for instance, bring them inside during harsh winters), but they’re much tougher than your dining room furniture and much softer than a standard lawn chair.

A private place to play
This deck has the lived-in look of a basement rec room, with 10 times the charm. Overhanging trees provide shade and seclusion for lazy afternoons in the hot tub; a quirky surfboard table provides a place for elbows and drinks. It’s easy to see how this could become the most popular room not in the house.


  • Hot tub: Watching the night sky while soaking in hot, bubbly water is a luxury that no indoor bath can match.
  • Surfboard table: Use “found objects” outside just as you would in your home. Antiques or salvage items can find a second life as chairs, benches or tables in the great outdoors.