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Design Inspo: Designing Smaller, Outdoor Living Spaces

design tips for designing outdoor spaces

It’s the season of outdoor living! Especially in places like Chicago where summer is fleeting, we do our best to soak up the sun as much as we can during the warmer months. The best way to do that? Invest in your outdoor living space, no matter how large or small it may be. By taking the time to design a space that you love, you will be able to make the most of the summer. Keep reading below for some design tips on designing a smaller outdoor living space from our design experts.

Add Stone Elements, But Thoughtfully

When designing small outdoor living spaces with stone elements, Precision Stone Design has some tips to create an appealing and functional environment:

  1. Choose the right materials. Natural Stone such as Marble, Granite & Quartzite can stand the test of weather beautifully and require minimal maintenance. Calacatta marble & Iceberg Quartzite is used for creating this fireplace which is a focal point for this home.
  2. Use lighter color stone. Lighter stones do not heat up quickly in sun and stay cool to the touch. They can make a small space appear larger and brighter. Consider using pale hues or neutral tones and avoid dark or overly busy patterns, as they can make the space feel cramped.
  3. Create a focal point. Incorporate a standout piece to draw attention and create visual interest. It could be a stone fire pit, a water feature, or for a smaller space in particular, try a beautifully designed stone wall. But remember to consider the scale and proportions of your pieces in relation to the size of the outdoor space.

Get more stone inspiration and tips from Precision Stone Design.

Multi-Functionality + Lighting, the Perfect Combination

When it comes to outdoor living spaces, size should never limit your creativity or comfort. With these few clever design strategies from Abt Electronics along with carefully selected products, you can transform even the smallest outdoor areas into inviting retreats.

Prioritize multi-functionality. Embrace the power of multifunctional elements that serve more than one purpose. Opt for outdoor furniture pieces with hidden storage compartments, such as ottomans or benches, where you can stash cushions, throws or gardening tools. Additionally, consider incorporating versatile seating arrangements that can double as dining areas or lounging spots, maximizing both comfort and functionality in a limited area.

Consider the lighting. Thoughtful lighting can instantly elevate the ambiance of your small outdoor living space, especially during evening hours. Opt for strategic placement of soft, warm lights that create a cozy and intimate atmosphere. 

With these tips and the right products, you can create an inviting oasis where you can unwind and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, no matter the size of your space.

Abt Electronics offers everything you need to create your outdoor space, head into their store or visit them online.

Choose Lightweight, Compact Furniture

As the days grow longer and warmer, we find ourselves being pulled outside. Outdoor furniture by Expormim, available through Mobili Möbel, can help expand your living space into the outdoors. Their versatile designs and array of finish options allow you to create a space that caters to your style and way of living. 

For those of us with a limited amount of outdoor space, this means having to be a bit more thoughtful and intentional with what pieces are brought in. For smaller patios, balconies and rooftop terraces, we are seeing a trend of outdoor furniture that blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor design. The Petale stackable chairs by Expormim are lightweight and easy to move and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor spaces.  Along with the Bistro table, this pieces can transform a small area into a place you have your coffee in the morning or enjoy a meal at the end of your day.

The Senso Low Armchair is a more compact lounge chair that can be paired with the Grada side table to create a more relaxed and casual lounge/dining experience. The light weight design again makes it easy to move around and rearrange as needed

See more product offerings from Möbili Mobel and the brands they represent here.

Don’t be Afraid to Think Big

The design team at CI Design + Build had the unique experience of designing the same outdoor space twice. The first client wanted to use the deck above the garage as a play area for their children. A custom jungle gym and privacy walls featuring faux greenery panels, decorative lighting, and full automation were designed and installed by our team. Fast forward to 2022 when the new homeowners wanted the same space for luxurious entertaining while utilizing the existing infrastructure. Out went the slide and in went sleek sofas. CI created a multi-zone lounge inclusive of a fire table, retractable shades, and an outdoor kitchen — efficiently using the 400 square feet to design the hottest personal rooftop in Chicago! Proof that even with the smallest of spaces, you can still think big when it comes to the design.

See more from CI Design + Build here.

Project and Photos by CI Design + Build

Add Some Color to Your Outdoor Space in Just a Few Days

As the warm weather approaches, Farrow & Ball is dreaming of sitting outside and soaking in the sun. To help you spruce up your outdoor spaces, here are three of their favorite weekend projects that can make a big impact.

Make an entrance. Welcome yourself home with a burst of color by painting your front door in a vibrant shade like a sunshine yellow, elegant green, or fiery orange. Farrow & Ball offers two finishes to suit your style: matte Exterior Eggshell or high-shine Full Gloss. To achieve a flawless finish, read their top tips on how to paint your front door.

Photos Courtesy of Farrow & Ball

Freshen up furniture. For a quick weekend project, consider up-cycling your furniture. Whether it’s adding accent legs to a chair or completely transforming a well-loved table, a tin of paint can work wonders in just a few hours. Farrow & Ball offers interior and exterior finishes, allowing you to spruce up everything from deckchairs to dressers. Discover more about painting furniture and get inspired here.

Don’t forget your fence. No matter the style of your garden, a freshly painted fence can breathe new life into its surroundings. Additionally, a picture-perfect garden gate can add charm and allure. Farrow & Ball provides a handy how-to guide for inspiration, color schemes, and step-by-step instructions on painting a garden fence.

For more inspiration and glimpses of real-life homes, visit Farrow & Ball’s dedicated exteriors inspiration page.

Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space by Investing in Quality Pieces

210 Design House carries a curated collection of the highest quality Italian and American cabinetry and furnishings brands, including top-of-the-line offerings fit for impeccable living spaces. According to Senior Designer Alexander Adducci, highlights for this season’s latest outdoor picks include: 

Cloud Collection by Arflex – Arflex, founded in 1947 in Milan by automotive engineers and a young architect, has always been a design and material leader, bringing new forms to life as furnishings that represent the best of Italian design. Carlo Colombo created the Cloud Collection to find a lifestyle that is more in tune with nature and visual cheerfulness. The soft and comfortable shape, combined with the light structure, not only provides a sense of comfort, but also makes it a flexible solution for small outdoor spaces.

Marenco Outdoor Sofa by Arflex: Designed by Mario Marenco, the Marenco is another one of our favorite outdoor lines by Arflex. This linear sofa with soft, rounded shapes can be used to furnish both residential and hospitality verandas.

Wet System by Wall&decó – Known for their cutting edge wall coverings that are centered around customisable contemporary aesthetics, technical research and innovation, Wall&decó’s WET System is a line of wallpaper specifically designed for damp environments. This innovation opens up a world of possibilities for decorating outdoor spaces, with head-turning contemporary designs like Kinetic Energy and Rhapsody in Japan. Imagery can be found here.

See more of what 210 Design House has to offer here.

Make Your Exterior an Extension of Your Interior

Outdoor spaces are simply made for entertaining – and there are few spaces designer Amy Kartheiser loves more than those that are made for happy hours and get-togethers. When it comes to outdoor design, Amy’s biggest tip is to ensure that the area serves as an extension of the interior — i.e., stick with the theme that you’ve created inside of the home and carry it through to the outside. Think of it as a moment to give guests a preview of what they can find throughout the interior.

As for small outdoor spaces, this is where Amy loves taking a chance with unexpected design moments. Amy believes that the impact of a design is heightened in a small space, so consider pushing some boundaries to create a big impression. 

See more from Amy Kartheiser Design here.

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