There's just nothing like dining outside in the spring and summertime. The soothing sights and sounds of nature surrounding you at mealtime is the quickest way we know of to lift our moods and make it feel like we've transported to a gorgeous escape just in time for dinner. For those who are lucky enough to have a sizable patio, porch or deck, setting up a functional and festive space to kick back with the kids (or with a few cocktails) and enjoy the weather can be as easy as peppering in a few lounge chairs and side tables, or as elaborate as tricking out a space with chaises, a built-in bar, or even a full cabana.
But whichever option your space (and your budget) allows, the effect is the same: a home-away-from-home feeling, right outside your door. (We'll definitely raise a glass to that.) Here are our favorite inspiring outdoor spaces with plenty of patio design ideas to try.
Banq On It
Built-in banquettes have quickly become one of our favorite throwback kitchen trends, both for their chic appearance and their space-saving abilities. So it stands to reason that one of the patio trends we're most excited about this season is the advent of the outdoor banquette. With a euro-cafe like flair, it's an easy way to elevate your outdoor dining area (and add extra seating for surprise guests).
Bring The Boho Outside
If this space were a living room, it'd be a veritable Bingo board of Boho style trends: Lush greenery, Turkish rugs, Indigo-dyed Shibori-inspired pillows, and of course, some woven wicker for good measure. While we've certainly seen all these Instagrammable elements appear indoors, it's less expected to see them perched on a front porch—and that's exactly why we love this cozy, personality-packed space.
Stock Your Bar
No outdoor gathering is complete without a few refreshing cocktails—so take a tip from the tenets of midcentury design and opt for an outdoor bar cart to complete your patio setup. This version features oversized wheels to allow for an easy transition from patio to grass to poolside.
Infuse Some Humor
It's called "fun in the sun" for a reason. Even if you're picturing using your patio for prim-and-proper garden parties, it's totally acceptable to add a few whimsical touches to show off your unique character—and this footed table is a perfect example.
Take A Cue from Hollywood
Speaking of "prim and proper"—this stunning pool-surround setup (with cabana!) reminds us of something from The Philadelphia Story. Take some tips from the golden age of outdoor lounging when designing your patio or dining space, and you'll be glad you did.
Make Smart Use of Space
Working with a limited amount of paved or concrete area in your yard? Don't despair—this chic setup from Timothy Brown Studio proves that you can comfortably dine al fresco even if your patio is just a bit larger than your dining table. (There's plenty of space to spread out on the grass, but take it from us—wet ground and wobbly table legs don't mix, so do your guests a favor and leave that space open for more leisurely pursuits.) A few oversized planters help define the space and add to its easygoing, relaxed vibe.
Vary Your Heights
Two-time international landscape designer of the year Margie Grace encourages using pots to mix up the landscape and heights of your plants, even if you're working with a large garden area with plenty of ground to plant in. She also suggests making your garden a mix of ornamental and functional plants.
"Tuck some food [into your garden]—veggies in a pot, fruit trees in a pot, herbs in a pot," she suggests. "Try grouping together different-sized pots to add structure and composition—plus, they're low-maintenance."
Planting both in containers and in the existing soil is an easy way to add some variety to your outdoor landscape.
Let The Materials Shine
In a space surrounded by nature, it's a no-brainer to lean into the natural appearances of different materials and textures in your decor and furnishings, too. This dreamy space from sKout does just that, to great effect—stucco-y benches, a stone firepit, and white-washed planters make it easy to embrace au natural vibes.
Move Your Living Room Outside
For those who are blessed with a ton of outdoor space, consider designing with your living room in mind. Moving family time (and entertaining alike) outside during the warmer months is a great way to take advantage of this space and make it feel like a mini-vacation at the same time. This setup has everything you need for next-level weekend hangs—and blends flawlessly with the homeowners' existing indoor style, to boot. Dress the space with all the comforts of indoors—throw pillows, occasional tables, even a light fixture an TV—to make it feel "just like home".
Take It Back to the 70s
Rattan, bamboo and other woven materials are all the rage right now. The best way to stand out from the pack? Install a playful swing chair in your patio space. Not only will the kids love it, but it'll infuse just the right hint of 70s-bohemian vibes you're looking for when kicking back.
Make It Modern
Just because your home's exterior ascribes to a certain period style, doesn't mean you can't have a little fun mixing things up with your porch or patio furnishings. This colonial-style home is thoroughly classic from the outside—but the porch is decked out in a mix of midcentury, modern, and Scandi-minimalist styles that really pop against the more traditional backdrop.
Layer In Color
While you might intend to spend most of your porch or patio time appreciating the bright and beautiful colors of nature, there's no reason your decor needs to be a wallflower. Draw inspiration from your surroundings—or spice things up if your view is more grey or neutral—with bright hues of all stripes. A cheery orange rug and teal throw pillows play nicely here with more muted denim-y blues and natural wicker...plus, these accents are easy to swap out as your tastes change with time.
Make A Retreat Anywhere
Decorist designer Christina Higham shows how even the most minuscule deck or balcony can become a much-needed escape in the city. She managed to fit her small outdoor space with a cozy sofa and a few side tables to achieve an instant oasis within limited square-footage. The resulting space masters the chic desert-inspired trend we've been loving lately, and it's perfect for enjoying a spritz at sunset.
Style with Tile
A bold and bright floor tile motif is one of the best ways to add some serious pop and pizzazz to your outdoor space. And best of all, it's a high-impact look that's easy to "fake" on the cheap—use tile stencils and concrete-appropriate paint to create a similar effect DIY-style, then let the compliments pour in at your next party.
Go With The Flow
Big coffee tables can be great in an outdoor seating area—until your guest list expands. Opt instead for a cluster of small, drum-style side tables that can serve as a surface for coffee or deserts when you're entertaining a few...or transform into a stool for your friends when you're entertaining a gaggle. They're also much easier to move around on the fly, so you can customize your setup to suit your needs every day of the week.