How to Design an Outdoor Room


Hello!  Now that the weather is cooling off a bit (it’s only in the 80s here in Louisiana!), I love spending time outside.  Whether it’s dining on an outdoor patio at a restaurant or enjoying a glass of wine in your own backyard, the outdoors this time of year are so pleasant.  Here are some great tips on how to design an outdoor room that is an extension of your living space.



  • In the past, outdoor furniture mainly consisted of chairs and dining tables. The category of outdoor furniture is much broader now.  Furniture for outdoor use comes in various styles such as sectionals, daybeds, sofas, loveseats, oversized chairs, coffee tables, benches, and accent tables.  Determine the primary activity you plan to do outside, such as dining or lounging, then select the type of furniture most conducive to that activity.


  • For outdoor cushions, pillows, and draperies, use fabrics specifically designed for outdoor use. This fabric will resist fading, moisture, and mold; and is easier to clean. Outdoor fabrics have been specially treated to resist the elements, as well as stains and spills. The most popular manufacturer of outdoor fabrics is Sunbrella. Most fabric dealers like Kravet, Fabricut, Duralee, and Robert Allen also have fabric lines made for outdoor use using their own proprietary technology.  Using a fabric specifically designed for outdoor use will keep your colors looking vibrant for many seasons!


Color Palette

  • If furniture will not be under a covered patio, it is best to avoid very light fabric colors. If you do select a light color of fabric, many cushion covers can be removed and washed.  For outdoor furniture that requires less maintenance, choose a medium shade of fabric.  Then you can bring in additional colors and patterns through throw pillows.
  • Pick colors and patterns that are an extension of your indoor space.  It will allow you to entertain both indoors and out with the transition between the two appearing seamless.  Make sure the colors chosen also compliment the exterior colors of your home.



  • Adding an iron chandelier or string lights can make a space more elegant. Also, there are many stylish ceiling fans for outdoor use that make spaces more comfortable during hot summer months.



  • Decorate your outdoor space using durable objects that will weather the elements, such as metal sculptures, river rocks, or wooden bowls.
  • One interesting way to add privacy and drama to an outdoor space is by adding drapes to a patio.  These drapes can be purely decorative to add color and visual interest, or be fully functional and help keep out the elements such as wind and cold.


  • An outdoor rug can make a space feel more comfortable. It is wise to use rugs specifically designed for outdoor use. Like Sunbrella fabrics, outdoor rugs have been treated to resist mold and mildew, as well as fading.  Many online retailers allow you to search specifically for outdoor rugs (versus indoor rugs).
  • Throw pillows for use outdoors are not only made from an outdoor fabric, but they are sewn with special thread that resists the elements, have zippers that won’t rust, and have filling that will not deteriorate.  These throw pillows make furniture more comfortable and bring in additional colors and patterns.


  • One final tip: Paint all your outdoor pots the same color. It looks very elegant to have them coordinate with your home’s trim or shutters.


For more tips from other designers on how to design an outdoor room, see this article in the online version of the Chicago Tribune here.  Thanks so much to the Chicago Tribune for featuring my tips!  If you would like help creating a functional, elegant, outdoor space, please contact me here.

Thanks for reading!

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