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Outdoor living spaces are different from indoor living spaces in one very important way – they are outdoors! You will want to consider the elements that are indigenous to your home’s exterior environment in order to create outdoor spaces that are perfectly situated and framed by natural beauty. Start by assessing your primary use for the spot: will this be for entertaining or your own daily relaxation, and are you expecting this space to be used for one season, two, three or four?

The right seating arrangements are as important outdoors as in. You want to create areas that are comfy and accommodating while also visually inviting. Pay attention to the amount of open space around seating to balance the flow and maximize the expansive ambience of being outside. Aligning furniture within an area to maximize function is important, but you’ll also want to take a step back to see if the overall grouping is aesthetically pleasing.

Pops of color in pillows and furniture are a good way to add character and visual interest. For easier maintenance, opt for mold resistant fabrics that won’t fade in the sun. A great rug is an easy shortcut to defining a space, and you can find plenty of handsome options that are designed for outdoor use. Keep the everyday setup simple but flexible. You can always bring out additional touches and décor when entertaining.

Photo: GQ

Photo: GQ

Quality landscape lighting allows you to set a scene at the flick of a switch. But it is also fun to customize the mood with candles and lanterns. And of course it is hard to top the allure of sitting around an actual fire. An outdoor fire pit creates an instant destination for delightful conversation and a natural sense of entertainment. Al fresco marshmallows or hot dogs, anyone?

What else does your dream exterior include? For many, a pool or spa adds greatly to the experience of enjoying the outdoors. The style and design you select may depend on your ideal usage, which could be anything from entertaining friends to lounging in the sun on a lazy afternoon, or playing water games with the kids – whatever floats YOUR pool float!

When it comes to outdoor living, regardless of what you already have or what you plan to build, the idea is to get outside and savor the warmer weather and beauty of nature as the temperatures rise. Don’t forget the sunscreen!