Tips & How-to's3 min read

How to Use Furniture, Plant Life, and Personal Style to Create an Outdoor Sanctuary

How to Use Furniture, Plant Life, and Personal Style to Create an Outdoor Sanctuary

There are few better things than enjoying indoor comforts, outside. The best outdoor sanctuaries are as inviting as they are functional. No easy feat, but with a few core design principles and some multipurpose pieces, you can easily create an outdoor space you’ll enjoy, day and night — no matter what size space you’re working with.

We asked Becky Horan, Outer Host and exterior designer, for advice on exactly how to get started.

What are the most important elements to consider when creating your outdoor sanctuary, and why?

A space that functions well for your personal lifestyle and entertaining needs is key. For instance, modular pieces (seating, outdoor kitchens, storage) that move around allow you to reconfigure a space easily to accommodate different sized groups.

Incorporating plants and foliage not only add to the outdoor feel, but help to soften hard edges such as concrete corners, metal posts, or other hardscape materials. Choose a variety of textures and natural materials in your furniture and accessory choices.

Lastly, weave in your own personal style: inspirational pieces from places you visited or those that have sentimental value.

An eclectic mix of decorative items brings your outdoor living room alive

Design and function go hand-in-hand. What advice would you give someone who is trying to create an outdoor area they'll spend a lot of time in?

The first step is to consider the view of your outdoor space from inside your home. Creating an area that looks enticing from inside will naturally draw you out there. Keep any furniture that could prohibit traffic flow away from patio/backyard doors.

Consider the view of your outdoor space from inside your home

Similar to the rooms inside, group certain components together. Separate a seating and dining area. Use area rugs, shade structures, umbrellas, or furniture to define different spaces.

Let's break down different-sized spaces:

If you have a gigantic backyard, how would you break it up to make a calming, relaxing living area?

Compartmentalize spaces into smaller, more intimate sections with a common element. It may be a path that connects the two or a plant used throughout the landscape. Threading a common element makes the yard look consistent while allowing you to use multiple areas in different ways.

Create smaller, more intimate areas if you have a large backyard

...a shared rooftop?

When dealing with shared spaces, incorporate privacy barriers — not only for privacy, but to define your personal style. Privacy panels work great for this and also double as artwork. You can also use plants or sun shades.

Our Host in New York uses planters to section off his personal space on a shared rooftop.

...a small yard or patio?

Choose furniture pieces with multipurpose functionality. For example, deck boxes that double as seating and storage, or an Outer with built in covers. Also consider selecting items that fit the scale of the space. Smaller seating pieces may provide better function and flow than a sectional that wraps around the perimeter.

Smaller spaces require multifunctional pieces

A sanctuary can mean different things to different people. What, to you, makes a space feel like a calming respite?

I love to incorporate unexpected details. It can be as simple as hanging curtains, using table mats, displaying art on the wall or fence, or hanging a unique light fixture.

Details matter

Walking into someone’s backyard, everyone expects some furniture and maybe a BBQ. It’s when you bring out little details typically reserved for inside that you really create a sense of comfort and relaxation.