13 Outdoor Living Trends Experts Are Eyeing for 2021

A patio with four sculptural lounge chairs

Julian Porcino

The process of decorating a home doesn’t end the moment you’ve outfitted your interior. Because odds are, you have some kind of outdoor space—and it deserves love and attention, too. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with a teeny-tiny balcony, a sprawling backyard, or something in between. Your space could probably benefit from a few upgrades, and since those changes might result in you logging a few more hours outdoors, you could probably benefit from those upgrades, too. 

Giving your outdoor space a much-needed tuneup may sound daunting. But, according to Bobby Berk, design expert and Emmy-nominated TV host, it doesn’t have to be.

“Think about how you actually want to use your outdoor space, and then focus on those specific goals,” he says. “If sharing meals outside is important, start with a dining area. If you want a space to relax, set up that space.”

Spending time outdoors should be an enjoyable experience, so don't stress yourself out trying to make it perfect.

Meet the Expert

  • Bobby Berk is an interior designer and the resident design expert on the hit Netflix series, Queer Eye. In addition to his TV work, Bobby leads his eponymous multi-faceted brand, including comprehensive lifestyle destination BobbyBerk.com.
  • Fernando Wong is the leading landscape designer at Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design, a Miami-based garden design and landscape architecture firm.

And remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. “Spending time outdoors should be an enjoyable experience, so don't stress yourself out trying to make it perfect,” Berk says. “Like all good design, creating a space is a process.” So take your time, keep track of trends you love, and curate your space bit by bit.

By keeping the focus on your wants and needs, you’re more likely to end up with a space you’ll love. But, if you need a little help in the inspiration department, we’ve got you covered. Ahead, you’ll find 13 outdoor living trends that experts can’t get enough of right now. Bookmark your favorites, and use them to piece together the outdoor space of your dreams.

01 of 13

Indoor/Outdoor Spaces

A window-lined porch with a rustic dining room table and chairs

Katie Martinez Design

Fernando Wong, leading landscape designer at Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design, says outdoor furniture has come a long way in recent years. In fact, it’s gotten so great that people are increasingly interested in using outdoor furniture inside.

“When it comes to design details and comfort, outdoor furniture truly rivals what we typically find inside,” Wong says. “This helps blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a sense of cohesion and flow between the two.”

Expect to see more indoor/outdoor spaces, like screened-in porches, garden rooms, or partially covered yards.

02 of 13

Natural Materials

A porch with two woven chairs

Tyler Karu

When it comes to outdoor décor, Berk says he’s noticed people gravitating toward natural materials—like rattan, bamboo, and clay. “From woven lanterns to rattan furniture to terracotta pots, it only makes sense that materials from nature should be outdoors,” he says.

These pieces can be a great way to dress up your space, and, "They add so much texture and interest to a backyard,” he says.

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Article Sankofa Stool $199
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03 of 13

Neutral Palettes

A patio with a firepit and several lounge chairs

Bespoke Only

Subtle colors have long been a favorite for interior décor. But, according to Joe Raboine, the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, they’re just as popular outdoors.

“People are gravitating toward neutral palettes,” he says. “These colors are calming, natural, and timeless. They blend in seamlessly with the natural environment.”

Of course, color isn’t off the menu entirely. Since neutral shades tend to pair well with brighter colors, you can pair neutral stones and pavers with vibrant furniture, décor, and plants.

04 of 13

Clean Lines

An outdoor space with a couch, a lounge chair, and two striking planters

Cathie Hong

“I love the more modern and streamlined pieces that are trending right now,” Berk says. “Clean lines contrast so well with organic elements, the curvy shapes of leaves, and plant life.”

If your yard is looking seriously lush, consider adding contrast with some sleek outdoor furniture. And even if your space isn’t looking particularly verdant. the pieces are sure to make a striking addition to your yard, porch, or balcony.

05 of 13

Gardens

A yard filled with plants, furniture, and outdoor string lights

Black and Blooms

“A silver lining of the past year: so many homeowners have a newfound appreciation for their backyards, outdoor spaces, and gardens, particularly,” Wong says. And while many of us have mastered the art of growing our own tomatoes, Wong points out that gardens can go way beyond flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

“Just as we have different rooms throughout the home, the same approach can be applied to the outdoors—defining spaces through hedges, hardscaping, fountains, and more,” he says. So, feel free to think outside the box—or in this case, outside the garden bed.

06 of 13

Teak

An outdoor fireplace surrounded by teak chairs

Pure Salt Interiors

One no-fail option when it comes to outdoor furniture? Teak, according to Berk.

“Although it's never really gone out of style, teak furniture is definitely having a moment,” he says. “It's a classic choice for a reason: it works with every style and just gets better with age.”

Since teak furniture is so trendy right now, it’s pretty easy to find. And even better—most of it is incredibly sleek.

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Crate & Barrel Paso Teak Adirondack Chair $699
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07 of 13

Experiential Upgrades

An outdoor space with a pool and a fireplace

Pure Salt Interiors

Historically, many of us have reserved our outdoor spaces for entertaining, relaxing, and special occasions. But lately, people have been looking for ways to get outside more regularly.

“People are realizing the benefits that an outdoor space can bring to their lives, and are expanding its functionality,” Raboine says. “This is leading to larger outdoor spaces that go beyond just entertainment.”

Raboine says he’s seeing everything from outdoor TVs to outdoor offices—complete with WiFi, lighting, wireless sound systems, and more.

People are realizing the benefits that an outdoor space can bring to their lives, and are expanding its functionality.

08 of 13

Sculptural Shapes

A patio with four sculptural lounge chairs

Julian Porcino

One trend Berk expects to see in the outdoor design world sometime soon? Curvy, sculptural shapes.

“It's been having a moment in the rest of the design world for a while now,” he says. “And I think it would be great to see cool shapes in outdoor tables, rounded corners and chunky legs in seating, and more playfully-shaped planters.” These pieces would, of course, look great next to the sleeker, more streamlined furniture that’s already trending.

09 of 13

Outdoor Lighting

A porch with a dining room table, several sculptural chairs, and a large chandelier

Desiree Burns Interiors

If you’re spending any time outdoors during the evening or night, lighting is a must. And Breegan Jane, celebrity interior designer and Legrand ambassador, says it’s one of her favorite ways to dress up a space.

Good lighting helps transition an area from day to night, so the party can continue after the sun sets,” Jane says.

To pull off this trend, Jane recommends investing in proper outlets and fixtures. Look for outdoor-friendly and weather-resistant options, and make sure to read the installation instructions carefully.

10 of 13

Terrazzo and Cement

A front yard lined with cement

Julian Porcino

Though natural materials—like rattan, bamboo, clay, and wood—are abundant, some sleeker materials are coming into style now, too.

“I'm excited to see more terrazzo and cement accessories popping up outdoors,” Berk says. “From side tables to planters, I love how these materials look when paired with wood and upholstered outdoor seating.”

Berk adds that the pieces often feel modern and retro at once—a combination that makes them a particularly fun addition to any space.

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Urban Outiftters Terrazzo Ceramic Indoor/Outdoor Side Table $169
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11 of 13

Functional Microspaces

A small porch decorated with a lounge chair and a bistro table

Tyler Karu

You don’t have to have a ton of space to pull off a stunning outdoor environment. In fact, Raboine has noticed people making the most of smaller spots, like side yards and balconies.

“As lots get smaller, land prices rise, and the population expands, many homes don’t have the large yards many people grew up with,” he says. “And many overlooked areas—such as side yards, front yards, or even small urban backyards—are being transformed into fully functional outdoor environments.”

Even simple additions, like a bistro table and chairs, can make your space feel much more functional—and fun to spend time in.

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IKEA Tarno Set $50
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12 of 13

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Materials

An outdoor dining room filled with bamboo furniture

Bespoke Only

People aren’t just looking for stylish ways to outfit their backyards—they’re also looking for eco-friendly and sustainable ways to do it. For some, this means stocking up on furniture crafted from recycled or ethically harvested materials.

“The push toward more sustainable practices and eco-friendly materials is also great to see,” Berk says. “We need to be taking care of the Earth, and this is a great step toward that.” 

And for others, this means looking for more sustainable ways to tend to their greenery. “As we design our outdoor living areas, people should consider permeable pavement, raised gardens, pollinator gardens, edible landscapes, and native plants,” Raboine says. “These things can greatly improve the local environment, and truly make an impact in the world.”

13 of 13

Beyond the Backyard

A wood-lined side yard with pavers and a hammock

Julian Porcino

Our backyards tend to get a lot of attention, but our front yards deserve love, too. “If you think your backyard is too small to create the different moments and experiences you want, it's time to think beyond the backyard,” Wong says.

A few trees or hedges could transform your front yard into the private oasis you’ve always dreamed of, and an underutilized side yard could easily become an orchard, a grilling spot, or an outdoor dining room.

“When you take a step back and look at the full property, you may have more space to play with than you even realized,” he says. So, get creative and look for ways to make the most of your space.

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