When it comes to interiors, great designs are achieved by combining compelling styles, cohesive color stories, and ample personal touches. But, when we step outside our patio doors, the vision often escapes us. The extensiveness of an outdoor space can leave us stumped, but these spaces should continue telling the story of our interior style—while offering a functional spot for working, dining, and taking in fresh air at the same time.
Going outside also provides a much-needed reprieve from extensive time isolated indoors—and lauded designer Nate Berkus agrees that the space deserves much more than faded tablecloths and stained furniture.
Meet the Expert
Nate Berkus is a globally recognized interior designer who aims to craft beautiful spaces while letting his client’s story 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.
“My philosophy for inside—which extends outside—is that you should create and craft a space that brings you joy, brings you serenity, and allows you to come together with those you love,” he says.
We could think of no better resource than Berkus to provide insight on living and dining outdoors, and share the first five essentials you need to establish a curated and chic outdoor space. Especially considering Berkus partnered up with with Sam’s Club to bring quality outdoor selections for the spring and summer to the store.
You should create and craft a space that brings you joy, brings you serenity, and allows you to come together with those you love.
“I've spent 25 years designing spaces that are meaningful, that people can really—this is a super Oprah-ism—live their best life and tell their stories in the decisions that they make,” Berkus notes. “With the pandemic, we've taken a second look at our homes and the spaces that we're living in, and we're thinking, how could these spaces be better reflections of our wants and needs?”
To illustrate how you can apply that philosophy to outdoor spaces, Berkus recently designed a pop-up greenhouse space in New York City in collaboration with Sam's Club. The finished product is filled with creative concepts that anyone with an outdoor area in need of a little love can try.
Even if your outdoor space is nothing more than a compact balcony or a tiny terrace, it deserves to be thoughtfully designed, according to Berkus. Not sure where to start? These five Berkus-approved essentials are must-haves when creating an outdoor oasis.
Well-Made Furniture with Washable Cushions
This was Berkus’s number one suggestion, as even tolerant climates in areas like Florida and California can damage furniture. So looking for products made from outdoor-friendly, weather-resistant materials is a must.
For his pop-up greenhouse in partnership with Sam’s Club, Berkus chose to feature the Valencia Eucalyptus outdoor set, which is not only visually appealing, but made of wood responsibly sourced from ethically managed forests in Brazil.
“It's deep, it's comfortable, and the cushions are washable, so it is the perfect fit for an outdoor space,” Berkus notes.
Greenery and Florals
We all know what joy houseplants bring to our spaces, and curating flowers and greenery outside is another way to bring personality to your space.
“This is an opportunity to bring the inside out, because you can be just as creative with greenery as you can with wallpaper and textiles,” Berkus says.
You wouldn’t leave your floors bare inside your home, so bring that philosophy outside to add a bit of flare and personality to your space.
“A rug is interesting outdoors, but you should get either an outdoor rug or an indoor rug that you can put under an overhang,” Berkus suggests. “I think that a rug creates more of a defined space.”
A necessity in building a usable outdoor paradise, lighting can be used to add warmth, drama, and functionally when the sunlight fades.
“Lighting is super easy,” he says. “I used string lights to define the pop-up space, but you could use solar-powered lights to create a border, actually create a room, or define a doorway. I really like the idea of that.”
A unique way to elevate your outdoor space is to give your dining experiences the attention they deserve. Ditch the plastic utensils and create an outdoor dining environment that mirrors one you would enjoy inside, suggests Berkus.
“I bring everything from inside out, and I like using a real fork, real dishes, and stoneware,” Berkus explains. “I'll bring it back in and throw it in the dishwasher when we're done. It’s easy, and it elevates the experience when you're not balancing something on a plastic plate or drinking from a glass with a stem that falls off.”