Outdoor Garden Rooms: How To Create An Outdoor Living Space You’ll Want To Hang Out In

There’s something about sitting outside on your deck or patio in the summer that can’t be beat.

You can hear the birds singing, feel the sun warming your face and see (and smell) the beautiful flowers in the garden.  It’s just so relaxing!

When I lived in Canada, it seemed like winter took so long to end that when the warmer weather arrived, everyone just wanted to get out of the house. Decks and patios were everywhere…and they would all be packed with people enjoying the outdoor weather as soon as it was possible to do so.

Even though I live in South Carolina now where the winters are not nearly as long (or as cold!), I still get that urge to be outside when the warmer weather rolls around.

So I created an outdoor living space in my backyard made of outdoor rooms that are an extension of my house.

And I love spending time out there!

These are my tips for how you can do the same.

1 | Bring the Inside Out

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outdoor bar with a pergola

I think the most important way to make your outdoor space more “livable” is to give it a purpose by creating outdoor versions of your indoor rooms.

If you have a dining area, living area or kitchen area outdoors, it gives you a specific reason to go out there. So you’re more likely to use it.

Gazebo with curtains and a pink and turquoise table setting

The most obvious way to create an outdoor room is with a gazebo or other structure that looks like a room.

A lattice fence around a deck that creates an outdoor room
The lattice fence creates a “room”

But you can also do it with plants, a screen, or anything else that helps to make an area feel like it has “walls”.

2 | Make Sure There’s Enough Shade

Two chairs and a small table on a patio under a tree
Seating in the shade

If you are lucky enough to have trees providing shade for your deck or patio, you are ahead of the game.

Beverly Hilton poolside room with black and white awning
The awning over the pool rooms at the Beverley Hilton

But if you don’t, providing some shade over the seating area will help to cool it down, which makes it so much more comfortable to be out there when the sun is beating down.

You can do this using permanent structures such as gazebos, covered porches, and awnings.

Blue and white patio umbrellas over outdoor furniture on a deck

Or you can use less-permanent shade solutions such as umbrellas and shade sails.

Don’t be afraid to use more than one if one umbrella does not cover your area.

Find more backyard shade ideas HERE.

3 | Create Some Privacy

Ground floor patio at the Hilton Rose Hall in Jamaica with a fabric privacy wall
Ground floor patio at the Hilton Rose Hall in Jamaica

You don’t have to build a brick wall or a tall fence, but creating some privacy will make your outdoor room feel more intimate and inviting.

Resort hotels are really good at implementing this concept (they are hosting a lot of people in close quarters)…so you can get some inspiration by looking at how they create privacy.

A simple fabric “wall” does the trick on the patios at the Hilton Rose Hall in Jamaica.

Cabanas with curtains poolside at the Beverly Hilton
Cabanas with curtains poolside at the Beverly Hilton

At the Beverly Hills Hilton, they even provide privacy for their poolside cabanas.

Draw the curtains closed to make it into its own outdoor room.

Find our tutorial for making affordable outdoor curtains HERE.

Chairs and a table on a deck surrounded by plants that create an outdoor room

Plants can also create a great privacy screen.

Find more backyard privacy ideas HERE.

4 | Add Lighting

A candelabra hung under a gazebo at night

Besides being functional, lighting at night adds a magical feel to your outdoor room.

You can use candles for an easy way to add some ambiance. I love the candle chandelier hanging under my pergola.

Terrarium candle holders with flame-less tealights hung from trees in the garden

You can also use flame-less tealights if you prefer.

I like to hang them from the trees in terrarium candle holders.

A string of Edison-style light bulbs hung in the garden

Hang a string of Edison-style light bulbs if you need more light than candles can provide.

Path landscape lights installed around a patio

Or go for a more permanent solution with installed landscape lighting. Path lights installed around a patio or deck create a beautiful setting at night.

Either way lets you use your outdoor room after dark.

Click HERE to find out more about outdoor lighting and how to install it.

5 | Control the Bugs

There’s one major difference between outdoor rooms and indoor rooms.

The Bugs!

Nothing makes it uncomfortable to be outside like being bitten by mosquitoes or swarmed by flies.

Fortunately, there are some ways to control them.

I like to use Tiki torches (like these*) with Citronella fuel (which you can find HERE*).

If you put them up all around your patio or deck, they’ll keep the bugs away, provide some light and look beautiful all at the same time.

DIY citronella candles

Or for smaller areas, try these DIY Citronella candles.

6 | Install A Fountain

Water fountain in the garden

The sound of water is a great way to create a relaxing environment in your outdoor room.

Whether it’s a freestanding fountain in the garden close to your deck, or a wall fountain that is hung close by, it will add to the ambiance of your space.

7 | Use Comfortable Furniture

Outdoor chair with a large cushion beside an outdoor table

The next tip to creating a really relaxing outdoor living space is to make it as comfortable as your indoor space.

Outdoor sectional sofa on a deck with a square dining table

Think outdoor sofas, armchairs, end tables and/or a dining table and chairs.

A little bistro set may look pretty, but nobody is going to relax sitting in those little chairs!

8 | Add Some Color

Pink patio umbrella over an outdoor sofa on a deck

Just like inside, you can add color to your outdoor room with fabrics and outdoor area rugs.

Flowers and plants provide a beautiful backdrop (something like the walls of your house).

And a pretty patio umbrella acts like the ceiling. (Get the tutorial for making my fringed umbrella HERE).

If you are someone who has neutral colors in your house but would secretly like to try some color, why not start with your outdoor rooms? Because nature includes all kinds of color, I think this is the perfect opportunity to go out of your comfort zone.

With all of the outdoor fabric options available today, you can create pretty much any color scheme you want.

9 | Get Some Outdoor Accessories

Outdoor bar cart, large vases and a blue container on a deck

Putting out some water-proof accessories that you would normally find indoors (like tall jars and a bar cart) helps to make your outdoor space feel more room-like.

Of course, pretty containers with lots of flowers look great, too.

Hopefully, you have found some inspiration to create your own outdoor room.

Other Deck and Patio Ideas

Have comments or questions about creating an inviting outdoor living space? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on June 25, 2020 but was updated with new content on February 13, 2024.

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