12 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Outdoor Living Spaces

Whether it's a welcoming courtyard, a narrow outdoor landing or a shady backyard spot, we've got 12 easy ways to bring style and substance to your favorite outdoor spaces.

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Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Maximize Every Inch

The most effective way to use any outdoor area is with perimeter seating. Here, a modular sectional is configured to conform to a corner of this welcoming courtyard, putting every square inch to use. For optional flexibility, consider armless sectionals since the armless modules can also be added to elongate a straight-lined sofa.

Plan for Foot Traffic

Before you set up your outdoor space, consider the traffic pattern in and around the area. To ensure plenty of open space near the main entry, create a pathway that's at least four feet wide.

Ensure Shade

Any time you're setting up an outdoor space, make sure you consider natural shade sources to help keep your spot cool. Taking space-planning cues from its central planting bed, the courtyard offers plenty of shade thanks to its planted tree.

Add Flexible Furniture

Before committing to an outdoor coffee table, consider investing in something that can serve multiple functions. A grouping of concrete side tables adds a sculptural touch and allows guests to have their own individual surfaces to place drinks and snacks.

Consider Impromptu Seating

When space is at a premium, the most efficient (and cost-effective) way to add a spot for every guest is with a pile of throw pillows. Stick with pillows sized 22 to 26 inches to ensure proper surface coverage to keep everyone seated comfortably.

Opt for Armless

Make the most of your money by choosing sectional sofas with armless modules. Depending on how your space is used, the armless modules can be pulled apart and used as slipper chairs.

Update Your Underfoot

Create a sturdy, level underfoot in courtyards, patios or porches with brick pavers. This classic look mixes perfectly with a variety of architectural styles.

Create a Welcoming Entry

Create a welcoming statement near your entry with a classically styled garden bench. This lightweight piece can be easily moved and used as extra seating during formal or casual alfresco meals, too.

Bring in Classic Ceramics

Asian-inspired ceramic garden stools are one of the most timeless choices for adding impromptu seating to any part of the house. The most popular style is chinoiserie, which depicts botanical shapes and Asian landscapes in shades of blue and white.

Don't Forget the Kiddos

Create a designated spot for kids by turning dead space into playful activity spots. Keep things versatile with maintenance-free stackable play tables and indoor-outdoor cushions for comfy seating.

Take Advantage of Vertical Space

Almost any outdoor spot can be transformed into a functional living space or lounge. While the narrow 5-by-14-foot landing outside this home office is too awkward for a sofa, it lends itself perfectly to taller seating options and petite decor like basket chairs, poufs and side tables.

Layer It Up

The key to making outdoor spaces feel warm and welcoming is layering them like indoor spaces. Any time you plan a space try incorporating low-maintenance plants and potted flowers into the mix, along with carefree rugs that add color, pattern and texture.

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