How to Add Personality to Your Outdoor Space, According to Nate Berkus

Open outdoor space with couch and concrete tables.

Design: Lindsey Brooke; Photo: Amy Bartlam

If your outdoor space is leaving you stumped, we understand. Choosing an interior style is simple: pick what resonates with you and design accordingly. But, how do we continue to tell that story in our outdoor spaces when options feel limited to loud, tropical prints and rusty dining tables?

To answer this enduring question, we tapped Nate Berkus, celebrated interior designer, who feels outdoor design is simply a continuation of your indoor design story.

“For some reason, people abandon their design style when it comes to outdoor spaces,” Berkus tells MyDomaine. “I've seen people live in a beautifully neutral space inside, and when you walk outside, it's all green and pink stripes. Try to keep your design personality consistent.”

Meet the Expert

Nate Berkus is a globally recognized interior designer who aims to craft beautiful spaces while letting his clients' stories shine. He is included on the ELLE DÉCOR “A-List” of the world’s top designers and was named to the AD100 list in 2018.

This spring season is a moment to reinvest in our spaces and think about how we move through both the inside and the outside of where we live, whether it's the outdoor play area for kids or an outdoor work from home desk space. Berkus shared a few of his tried and true tips for creating an outdoor oasis that feels just as chic as any interior. Here's what to know.

Add Plenty of Pattern

Outdoor bench with blue patterned throw pillows.

Pure Salt Interiors

Berkus suggests adding décor pieces like outdoor cushions to bring in plenty of patterns—but don't be afraid. Pattern doesn't necessarily have to be bold — a simple stripe or tone-on-tone motif counts too. Incorporate pattern and texture as minimally or as maximally as your design taste calls for.

Texture is another element to consider when decorating outside. Gravitate towards textured cushions, rustic ceramics, and wooden furniture to blend the naturalistic elements of the outdoors with chic design styles.

Play With Your Color Scheme

Tropical outdoor space with white sofa and orange throw pillows.

Calimia Home

Don’t stray too far from what you love to make your home feel cohesive, and choose a color scheme based on your interiors when designing your outdoor space.

“If you love a beautiful, understated neutral palette inside, do that on your exterior as well,” Berkus suggests. “If your home is bright and Fiestaware and primary colors on the inside, then that should be what carries over to the outside story."

Stay True to Your Style

Nate Berkus inside his pop up gazebo with Sam's Club.

Courtesy of Sam's Club

Berkus follows this design guide in his own space as well, which he shares with husband Jeremiah Brent and two young children. 

“For us, our outdoor spaces are an extension of our inside,” he explains. “Though that’s the biggest rule of thumb, I have two kids under six years old—and the truth is, they’re on the swing set, uninterested in our cute barbecue. They're taking a hot dog and running 1000 miles away from us to go down the slide again.” 

Berkus loves the joy the summer season brings to his family and beyond, which is why he is so passionate about curating outdoor spaces. “For me, there's happiness in this season," he says. "There's a happiness inherent in entertaining—safely—and these spaces give us the opportunity to run free.” 

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