How to Design an Outdoor Space: A Homeowner’s Guide

Ah, the great, cultivated outdoors. Nothing says ‘home’ like a family barbeque on a gorgeous patio, or friends gathered around a comfortable fire pit as fall nips the air, or a child and their dog chasing each other around for fun and exercise. With COVID-19 forcing so many of us to move our gatherings outdoors if we want to spend time with people, designing an outdoor space has become critically important.

Not sure where to begin? Our guide has some helpful beginner’s tips that will help you design an outdoor space that’s perfect for your home and family.

When You Design an Outdoor Space, Consider This

Before we delve into more specific backyard design ideas, we wanted to give you a list of general considerations you should have in mind. When you design an outdoor space, you should think about:

Size and Shape

Do you want your new outdoor space to take up the entire backyard, or a piece of it? What shape is your backyard? How can you work within your space constraints to create something gorgeous and unique?


What do you want your new space to do? Do you want a sense of privacy? A mini-vacation? An entertainment zone for family and friends?


Your principal concern when designing a backyard should be how much you’re willing to spend on it. You don’t need to break the bank to get all the latest trendy features. Repurposed, resold, or vintage furniture will serve the same purpose.


How easy is it to get in and out of the house? Do you have to hike to get to your refuge, or is it a hop, skip, and a jump away? How well can you maneuver in your new space?


Don’t only buy plants and outdoor decor because they look cool. Have a theme in mind, and it will make your space look much better.

If you keep these considerations in mind, you’ll have a well-designed outdoor space, no matter what your design preferences may be.

Everybody in the Pool!

If you’re fortunate enough to have a pool, you should make an effort to design around it. By having a pool available, you’ve established that you value both fun and function. Therefore, the space around it should serve as a testament to that.

You’ll want to have plenty of long, comfortable lounge seats for you and potential guests to stretch out on when they’re done playing in the pool. Swimming burns tons of calories, so you may want to consider offering a poolside dining area as well. Whether the vibe is bright and fun or classy and understated will depend on your choice of the color scheme.

The Secret Garden

Ever since reading the eponymous book, many of us have been obsessed with the idea of crafting our own little garden retreat. With draping walls of plant life, a wide variety of beautiful, scented blooms for all seasons, and soft, romantic twinkle lights to complete the atmosphere, you can retreat into your own personal nature sanctuary for a few hours.

For some added zen, you can even invest in some gently bubbling outdoor fountains, and let the flowing water wash away your stress.

How About an Outdoor Living Room?

Let’s say that you want to design an outdoor space that’s fit for all seasons and weather. Pools are too seasonal, and gardens can wither if not tended well. Why not consider an outdoor living room?

An outdoor living room allows you to bring more rugged elements of the inside, like brick or stone, into the outside world, where they can stand alone. All you need for a proper outdoor living room is some comfortable places to sit, somewhere to set food and drink, and an open, communal atmosphere. You can even purchase a gazebo with some sliding curtains if you want to give yourself and your guests some privacy.

Fit for Foodies

Let’s face it; the main reason a lot of us want to know how to design an outdoor space is in preparation for the summer series of barbeques. However, having a backyard fit for foodies doesn’t have to be a summer-exclusive prospect. With clever use of a fire pit, you can easily gather around for food and fellowship in the fall or even the winter.

If you do decide to invest in an outdoor kitchen, it will likely be the center of your entire backyard. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not you want one.

Topical Tropical (and Other Vacation) Trends

With vacation travel suspended indefinitely for most of us, finding ways to turn our backyards into private retreats has become a major priority.

If you can’t make it to the beach and want to redesign your backyard, why not bring the beach to you? If you’re willing to deal with the maintenance of white sand and the tropical plants attending it, you can turn your outdoor space into a mini beach vacation.

Loved traveling to Asia, but can’t due to current restrictions? You can incorporate a koi pond, a zen garden, or many other elements of the culture you enjoy while still personalizing your outdoor space.

Missed your summer trip to Sicily? A stone-fired pizza oven and rich, rustic hues can bring that feeling of the Italian countryside home to you.

Need More Home Improvement Inspiration?

Now that you have some ideas to design an outdoor space, you’re likely filled to bursting with inspiration. If you need more ideas to solidify your vision, or your DIY skills leave something to be desired, why not check out our blog? We stay up to date with the latest and greatest in home living and home improvement tips!