Relaxing Outdoor Retreat

See how a barren backyard gets turned into a relaxing outdoor retreat.

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Designer Angelo Surmelis wanted to make the space look larger, so he created three distinct areas: an enclosed seating area (pictured), lounge (also pictured, foreground) and a dining area (not shown). Each area is defined by different materials and styles. The Mission-style archway marks the entrance to the enclosure and mirrors the arch at the front of the house. Inside is a fire pit and a variety of seating options surrounding it — perfect for entertaining.

Concrete pavers laid out to look like tile and river rock used as "the grout," helps set apart the area from the rest of the backyard and also softens the wavy concrete edge. Pillows made out of shower curtain material are used throughout the entire space because they are water resistant and can stay outside. Ambient lighting is the finishing touch. Using indoor lighting to enhance the indoor/outdoor feel will make people want to spend time here, Surmelis says. There are round lights on the archway, mini lamps in each corner of the enclosure and candles in the lounge area.