30+ Inspiring Outdoor Living Designs
From outdoor kitchens to treehouses, from hot tubs to stunning garden design, luxe to cozy, see what professional designers and homeowners have done to make the most of these outdoor spaces.
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Photo By: Bethany Nauert; Styled By: Paige Geffen
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Photo By: Patricia Chang; Design By: Miyuki Yamaguchi, Miyuki Yamaguchi Design Studio
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Photo By: Photo & Design © Barbara Butler Artist-Builder Inc.
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Photo By: Jeeheon Cho; Design By: Guido Keller, Lotus Gardenscapes
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Photo By: Gunn Landscape Architecture
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A stylish outdoor design scheme can be achieved whether you are dealing with an expansive suburban backyard or a small urban space with a balcony or rooftop space. This outdoor living room features a large rustic overhead structure that provides cooling shade on especially hot days.
Designer: Bruce Meeks, Landscape Architect, Meeks & Associates Landscape Architecture
Chic Rooftop Design
On this Chicago rooftop, a privacy panel is cut in the shape of a tree to reflect the effort to carve out a garden in this urban space.
Mission-style woodwork accents this arbor and barbecue with a cast glass concrete countertop from designer Scott Cohen.
Traditional Southern Screened Porch
Featuring traditional rockers, this generous screened porch will function as a satellite family room in warmer Southern months in this outdoor space designed by James Farmer.
New Mexico's unique architectural tradition continues today with the use of centuries old design themes, materials and craftsmanship. Hewn posts, massive wooden beams, traditional corbels and timeless flagstone were used to create this inviting outdoor environment. Spaced planks overhead allow filtered sunlight to brighten the entire area, while protecting the house from the harsh western sun. Designer: Steve Appolloni, Appolloni Designs
Useful Built-In Bench Seating
A concrete retaining wall creates a private feel around this cool, bohemian patio. A planted yard extends above the wall for additional privacy and natural decor. Neutral tone fabrics and a collection of throw pillows create a calm environment perfect for relaxation.
Covered Deck with Open View and Amenities
Design Outbuildings for Max Impact
A seating area atop a deck outside this garden shed merges work and play by creating a space to store tools and then sit and soak up the surrounding garden. We like the cherry red door, because sheds need curb appeal, too.
Bohemian, Romantic Porch Design
Design is a mood too. “To create a warm, soft and romantic glow, I used pillar candles in a few spots on this front porch. The candlelight offers just the right amount of lighting, not to take away from the breathtaking view of the sunset over the hillside vineyard,” says designer Miyuki Yamaguchi. “Use battery-operated pillar candles — they’re a much safer option to enjoy from dusk till dawn,” she adds.
Touch of Elegance
These gorgeous chandeliers caged in rustic metal cages are the perfect mix of beautiful and functional in this outdoor kitchen. A pizza oven, multiple refrigerators and ovens, heaters and stove tops make this outdoor kitchen fully-functional and ready for entertaining.
Cool Treehouse With Climbing Wall
A treehouse is a place for kids to call their own and become immersed in their own little worlds. “To encourage imaginative play, I like to create a cozy clubhouse up high that gives kids a real sense of getting away from it all,” says treehouse and play structure designer Barbara Butler. “I think it’s important for the clubhouse to be different than the family home — more of an outdoorsy cabin, more fun colors and features.”
Lush Garden Design
A stone trail leads to a shaded table in the garden and serves as a nice relaxing spot to enjoy the outdoors.
Bird's Eye View
A lap pool, native plantings and a brick terrace rather than the usual concrete surface pool-surround make this an elevated, elegant outdoor space.
Contemporary New York Garden
Stone pavers lead to a re-circulating fountain in the garden of a contemporary Manhattan townhouse. To the left, locust slabs lead to a reading nook. The area is framed by ginkgo trees. The project by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects of Charlottesville, Virginia, was an American Society of Landscape Architects award winner.
Garden Shed in Asian Garden
Pick and place a potting shed with an eye to the overall design of your garden, so that it doesn’t sit out there like a lonely, disconnected outbuilding. The materials, design, and placement of this shed tie it to the surrounding Asian-style garden.
Generous Bar Area
When designing an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, the layout and width of the countertops can be expanded to accommodate a bar as in this Chicago outdoor kitchen.
Modern Urban Courtyard
A sculptural sliding gate serves as the stylish backdrop to dinners enjoyed at the recycled plastic dining table. Matthew Cunningham's design for the courtyard, which includes the gate (made from raw aluminum) and reclaimed granite flooring, won an Association of Professional Landscape Designers award.
Small But Impactful Deck
When you're dreaming of green acres but living with the reality of a small terrace, consider using vertical spaces like walls or railings for plantings. Here, Guido Keller of Lotus Gardenscape used a custom-made wall planter to create a vertical garden. The client chose a brightly patterned rug and simple furnishings to complete the inviting effect.
Modern Patio with Water Channel
A water channel creates a visual axis from the entrance of the patio to the homeowner's prized Kaneko ceramic sculpture. The award-winning landscape design brings a water feature to the land-locked Arizona property.
Multi-Level Deck With Entertainment Space
Instead of a traditional one level deck, why not create various areas for outdoor entertaining and activities with a multi-level design?
Urban Rooftop Garden
A modern waterfall adds to the city sights on a rooftop garden in New York's Tribeca neighborhood. The project, by Aaron Andrew McIntire and the Gunn Landscape Architecture team, won a gold award in the Association of Professional Landscape Designers' International Landscape Design Awards.
Stylish Chicken Coop
The owners of this tin roof chicken coop wanted to create a home for their chickens. The owners said landscaping was a key factor in the positioning of the coop which nicely separates the yard from the street and works as a privacy screen.
Circle of Life
Pavers set into grass and the interlocking circles of this patioscape define this contemporary design from Scott Cohen, The Green Scene/Fetch-a-Sketch.com.
Outdoor Kitchen With Pizza Oven
In the Mix
A blend of wood and hardscape enlivens this southwestern style patioscape from designer Scott Cohen, The Green Scene/Fetch-a-Sketch.com.
Outdoor Gathering Space
This outdoor kitchen/family room features a built-in barbecue cook center with granite counters and potted herbs for easy access. The furniture is set up for conversation and cozying up to the fireplace. The "formal" dining room is beyond.
Designer: Shirley Bovshow, Shirley Bovshow Garden Design and Decor
A split-level custom cast glass counter with a blue-tiled backsplash allows homeowners to entertain guests at the barbecue area. A separate living area beyond is equipped with a fireplace.
Designer: Scott Cohen, The Green Scene/Fetch-a-Sketch.com
Al Fresco Dining
This home features an outdoor kitchen, complete with convection grill, outdoor refrigerator, screened porch and scored and stained patio. The stacked stone bar features a custom-built cedar pergola and is topped with African range granite.
Top of the Line Outdoor Kitchen
This outdoor U-shaped bar houses all Viking appliances, including a massive gas grill. Slate tiles cover all areas of the bar, and the painted trellis above will eventually be covered with greenery for shade. Herringbone patterned deck pallets allow water to drain off the flat roof and are removable if needed for repairs.
Designer: Katie Leavy, Interior Designer, Capital Design LLC
Nestled into a wooded lot, the house has expanded terraces that graciously step down the hill creating a series of outdoor rooms. Design is by Robert Hursthouse