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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Some lounge chairs…
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.
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.
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).
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!)…
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.
Tip 9: Ceramics
Either pots (if you can keep your plants alive)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
sectional couch | porch rug | throw pillows: Hayneedle and At Home | curtains |rolling serving cart | storage bench | poof | dining table and chairs |umbrella | globe string lights | striped rug | wooden buffet | ceramic lanterns | garden stool | industrial spool table (diy tutorial) | metal chairs (similar) | lounge cushions: At Home