Backyard Tour and Outdoor Decorating Tips

Tour a Texas backyard, complete with hill country views, a covered porch, outdoor dining area, pool, and do-able outdoor decorating tips for any space.


Outdoor Decorating Tips: don't be afraid to bring real dishes outside... It creates a beautiful scene!

In year’s past, I have always found it amusing that just as the rest of the design world is “moving outside” to explore patios, porches, and yards, we here in central Texas are usually moving in.  By May or June, when it’s finally warm enough in the northeast or midwest to come outside, it’s so dang hot here in Texas that we are locked inside with the air conditioning for survival!

Of course, I confess that I did the requisite thing: I still shared my outdoor spaces at the “right” seasonal time and discussed outdoor decorating during the months that make sense to most people.  No one really cared that we only used our patio in April and October. 😉

But this year, our first full summer in our new house with a pool, we are finally using our outdoor spaces during the summer!  So I couldn’t let the summer completely pass without a full tour of the backyard for you all.  Plus, I am SO pleased with how our outdoor spaces have turned out, I wanted to share with you all my best tips for making your outdoor space both beautiful and functional.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: keep it simple with blue and white

Now just a tiny disclaimer, I realize that this is a dramatic outdoor space, especially since I teamed up with hayneedle to create the outdoor dining room.  Trust me, I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming when I walk out there!  We are so very thankful.  But we have had a huge variety of outdoor spaces over the years, everything from a 1’x3′ balcony to a rickety wooden porch (that was falling off the back of the house) in the midst of a dirt field yard surrounded by a broken fence.  On a related note, you can see how we finally redeemed that space here if you’re interested.

My point here is that I’ve had both large and small outdoor spaces, naturally beautiful and naturally ugly ones… And today I want to share some tips that I think would help any outdoor space feel more like an extension of your home.  More cozy, more welcoming, more beautiful.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: Don't be afraid of outdoor textiles: curtains, rugs, and throws can make a space cozy and welcoming and feel like an extension of your home

Note: I have included a full source list at the end of this post.  This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Tip 1: Outdoor curtains
There’s just something vacation-like about soft white curtains blowing in the breeze.   They make the space softer, add a bit of shade without blocking breezes, and definitely contribute (possibly more than anything else) to making it feel like an extension of your living space inside.  The ones I used are so affordable and though I’ve only had them about three months, they’ve held up beautifully so far!

Outdoor Decorating Tips: try affordable outdoor curtains to make a porch or patio feel instantly more like an extension of your interior

Tip 2: Outdoor rug
Are you seeing a theme here?  Bringing textiles outside does wonders for the feeling of the space.  Even if you’re working with a 3’x3′ patio, a little outdoor rug or mat makes the space feel instantly warmer.  Tip: I have found that the flat weave ones (like this one) made of plastic and polypropylene with busy designs to hide dirt hold up the best to weather.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: choose an affordable, flat weave outdoor rug to bring pattern and ground the space

I have another gorgeous outdoor rug that I finally moved inside because the white stripes just would not stay clean.  Thankfully it’s easy and lightweight, so I just bring it back out when we entertain.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: globe string lights bring instant ambiance to an outdoor dinner party

Tip 3: Affordable outdoor cushions
You can see my tip on where to buy affordable cushions here.  The truth is, I have found that I can splurge a bit more on cushions that go on the covered porch because they really don’t seem to get wet, but for cushions that will actually be sitting uncovered (if you’re lazy like me and don’t bring them in every time it rains), I recommend finding the most affordable ones you can and being prepared to replace them every couple of years.  It brings me peace of mind not to stress as they get dirty and worn.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: where to buy affordable outdoor cushions

Tip 4: Layering low end and high end
Like every space in my house, I like a mixture of low/high end items (or high end knock offs 😉 ).  Though I LOVE some stores, I don’t think everything in a space should come from any one place; it’s the layers that make it yours.  For example, we searched everywhere for a wooden outdoor sectional, and even with massive sales at the end of last summer (some up to 70% off) at higher end stores, this couch from IKEA was significantly cheaper.  We love it.  The simplicity of it allows me to embellish with fun pillows, and the slightly smaller size actually fits our long, skinny porch much better than the larger ones would have.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: Ikea sectional is an affordable base to a gorgeous, layered patio

And the little “coffee table”?  It was left out in the rain behind the AC equipment by the previous owners.  Free, distressed, and perfect. 😉

Tip 5: Multiple seating areas
This is more applicable if you have a pool or a particularly large yard, obviously, but having space to spread out allows multiple conversations to take place when there are large crowds.  Whether it’s an old spray painted table surrounded by $15 IKEA chairs (which you can just see in the background hiding under the arbor)…  An old industrial spool snagged for free with a few chairs

Outdoor Decorating Tips: create multiple seating areas for conversation

Some lounge chairs…

Outdoor Decorating Tips: create multiple seating areas for smaller conversations

Or a glamorous outdoor dining space

Outdoor Decorating Tips: twinkle lights add instant ambiance

A place where people can actually talk to one another is so sweet.

Tip 6: One main gathering place
I know it sounds contrary to the previous tip, but there are times when you want everyone gathered.  It’s so much more fun to invite a family over for dinner and actually get to sit down at the table with them!  Our dining table can easily seat 10 if we use benches and our narrower chairs, so we often trade out these larger chairs when we have more people to sit.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: mix and match chairs at a table to create more seating options and a casual feel

The porch offers a good gathering area, too.  Sectionals with some extra pieces (like the poof and the storage bench) to pull up can create excellent conversation areas.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: combine storage and seating with beautiful box benches

Tip 7: Shade
I know I said we’ve been outside more (which is true!), but we’re not super heroes.  Unless you’re in the pool, it’s HOT!  I already mentioned the curtains; I also love the bamboo blinds left by the previous owners.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: find some shade! Bamboo blinds, outdoor curtains, and umbrellas can all help you enjoy your outdoor living area

And our giant umbrella is amazing.  The sun is so brutal that we absolutely could not eat breakfast or lunch out here without it (the patio is shaded in the evenings, thankfully).

Outdoor Decorating Tips: make your outdoor dining space usable with a giant shade umbrella

Since it pivots, we can even move it over to shade the edge of the hot tub if someone needs shade and water.

Tip 8: Serving space
I’ve discovered over the years that if I don’t have anywhere to serve food and drinks, I simply won’t use outdoor spaces for entertaining.  This beautiful outdoor kitchen was already here when we moved in (so thankful!)…

Outdoor Decorating Tips: make your space functional with a built in grill and serving area

But we actually brought this little kitchen island outside to create serving space on the porch, too.  And you don’t have to spend a lot of money.  I’ve seen amazing tutorials for building little carts from pallet wood and other inexpensive materials.  Or if you have a rolling kitchen island, bring it outside!  Just be sure you have an option so that you will actually use the space.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: rolling carts make perfect serving areas and can be moved back inside when finished if needed

Tip 9: Ceramics
Either pots (if you can keep your plants alive)…

Outdoor Decorating Tips: bring color with ceramic pottery

Or ceramic lanterns (my metal ones have all rusted; the ceramic ones stay much nicer in my parts) make excellent accents that you can actually leave outside.  Ceramic garden stools can do the trick, too.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: ceramic lanterns bring beautiful colors and won't rust like metal ones

Tip 10: Waterproofing
There’s no point in creating a beautiful outdoor space and letting it fall apart!  For raw wood, this is my favorite method.  For other furniture, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Most wood furniture needs to be re-oiled when it begins to look dry or tired.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: keep your wood furniture looking its best by waterproofing it properly

Tip 11: Twinkle lights
Again, this works with any size space!  I love the globe size lights… We have them strung inside our porch as well as from our umbrella.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: outdoor curtains and soft twinkling lights bring instant ambiance to an outdoor dining or entertaining space

But regular Christmas lights or those very cool vintage ones are excellent options, too.  All it takes is a few twinkle lights to add a little magic to the space.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: globe string lights at instant ambiance to an outdoor dining space

I hope those tips help, and I hope you enjoyed a fuller tour of our outdoor space.  What about you?  Are you still enjoying your outdoor spaces in August?

Source List
sectional couch | porch rug | throw pillows: Hayneedle and At Home | curtains |rolling serving cart | storage bench | poof | dining table and chairs |umbrella | globe string lightsstriped rug | wooden buffet | ceramic lanterns | garden stool | industrial spool table (diy tutorial) | metal chairs (similar) | lounge cushions: At Home

 Outdoor Decorating Tips: how to make any outdoor space a welcoming extension of your home

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  1. God has truly blessed you and the family with an incredible outdoor haven. Here in SO FL we share your ducking into the AC by June just as the rest of our nation is relishing summer. 😉 except when we host Nana and Grandpa Camp for our grans which we did the last 10 days where they swim in the pool morning and evening everyday and putted around in the little boat thru our backyard canals. We clean up the patios and plant annuals for their yearly visits and then stay tucked inside as much as possible until OCT. love your eating/cooking area, wow!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Yes! You are so right; we feel so very blessed. :) I love hearing that you host “camp” for your grandkids! What beautiful memories you must be making, Pamela. I hope your summers continue to be special and that you enjoy that patio again come October! xx

  2. Vicki gauger says:

    Rachel, one of the prettiest outdoor spaces I’ve ever seen. You have everything covered. Great job and I enjoy your blog 🙂

  3. LOVE everything about your space! I tried to click on the link to the curtains, but the curtain links keep taking me to the outdoor rug. Can you please tell me where you got the curtains? Beautiful! THANKS!!

  4. Rachel, your pool and patio area is truly a spa-like oasis!….Beautiful seating areas…awesome table setting and then there is that incredible view!….Breathtaking!

  5. This is amazing! So much inspiration for our patio which is in progress. I love the giant umbrella, but the link is taking me to the outdoor rug instead. Thanks for sharing your beautiful space!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you so much, Samantha! So sorry about the umbrella link; I believe it is corrected now. Hope this helps!

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