From Spotlight: Kickoff to Summer

7 Ideas to Make Your Outdoor Living Space Irresistible

Budget ideas to transform your outdoor living space into a beautiful (and fun) retreat.

outdoor living space has colorful chair, ottoman and table next to fire pit and lots of plants on patio
Image: CapturedNuance/Getty

Americans are putting their own spin on the Scandinavian passion for open-air living--friluftsliv. We’re not just doing things outside as much as possible. We’re expanding our indoor living space to the outdoors. And that’s increasing the value of homes and adding features buyers are looking for. 

More than 80% of home buyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

So why not jazz yours up with these outdoor living space ideas on a budget?

#1 Design Your Space To Blur the Line Between Inside and Outside

Creating a seamless transition between your home’s interior and exterior isn’t as simple or low cost as adding some cushy cushions, but it’s seriously the best way to pull you outside more.  

  • The most affordable way: switch out a standard door with french or sliding doors.
  • The wow-way: add weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scored concrete, for the space outside and the adjacent room inside

#2 Go Overboard on Comfy

Comfy outdoor seating
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. A couple more simple starters: 

  • Get some cushy cushions. Make sure they're outdoor-worthy and can handle downpours.
  • Put down outdoor rugs for barefoot comfort.

#3 Make It Easy to Use All Your Devices

Our devices and electronics have conspired to keep us on lock down inside. Here's some fun ways to stay charged outdoors: 

  • Get a Wi-Fi antenna to boost your range. 
  • Create a new habit of using solar chargers and you'll rarely be without juice.
  • Add some wireless speakers for the simplest DIY sound enhancement you could ask for.

#4 Crank Up the Mood Lighting

Outdoor solar walkway lights
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Outdoor lighting dresses up your home’s marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is buyers’ second most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and lets you spend more time outside.

  • Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points.
  • Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier.
  • Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights.
  • Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone.

#5 Personalize It

DIY patio pavers
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

  • Paint a faux rug with your favorite colors.
  • Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials.
  • Craft a one-of-kind outdoor chandelier.
  • Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave.
  • Add personal décor that makes you happy.

In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills.

#6 Add Some Fun Stuff to Do

Outdoor space with kid-friendly playhouse and DIY chalkboard
Image: Tasya Demers from My House and Home
  • A fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time.
  • Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking with an outdoor playhouse.
  • Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.
  • Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run may even boost your home’s value. FYI: It’s been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses.


#7 Arm Your Space Against Bugs, Weather

Removable canopy over a home's deck
  • Install an awning, canopy, or pergola
  • Rig glass fence windscreens to the keep your BBQ fires burning.
  • Screen in your porch or deck against bugs.

If you already have a screened porch, don't forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards.


Deirdre Sullivan bio photo
Deirdre Sullivan

Deirdre Sullivan is an NYC-based writer who's obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling. She's a former fashionista who has worked for Lucky Magazine and InStyle. She recently traded her high heels and Fashion Week pass for a drill and bandsaw. Follow Deirdre on Twitter, and Pinterest.