10 Outdoor Living Room Ideas That Bring the Indoors Outside

outdoor living room and kitchen

What’s better than having one nice living room you enjoy spending time in? Two of them, of course, in the form of an outdoor living room.

When people look to increase the amount of living space their home has, it’s usually a house extension or addition that comes to mind.

Anyone who has undertaken a renovation project like this knows how daunting it can be. They’re messy, expensive, tend to drag on for longer than expected, and will inconvenience your family.

Instead of knocking down walls to expand your living area, why not make better use of the space you already have?

One very practical way to extend your home’s living space is to upgrade the backyard to include an outdoor living room.

There’s an outdoor living boom

The livability of our homes has never been as front of mind as it is these days. The pandemic has reminded us that our families and our homes are everything.

Prioritizing the functionality and quality of our living spaces has made the backyard a logical area to focus on when making homes upgrades. The increased interest in backyard improvements actually started well before the pandemic and now the outdoor living boom is in full bloom.

High demand for outdoor living products means there are a wealth of buying options when you’re shopping for things like outdoor rugs, outdoor furniture, patio heating sources, and outdoor kitchen products.

Bringing the indoors outside to expand our living spaces led to an 8% surge in outdoor living product spending in 2020, according to a study from The Freedonia Group.

Experts weigh in on the hot outdoor living trends

Fixr.com, an online network that connects consumers with renovation professionals, revealed some interesting statistics in their recent annual Trends for Outdoor Living Spaces Report. A group of industry experts were surveyed about which outdoor living trends they expected to be popular with homeowners:

  • 80% of the experts believe outdoor spaces that have been upgraded would be used for gathering with friends and family.
  • 61% said outdoor kitchens were the most in-demand addition for outdoor living areas.
  • 48% of the surveyed experts expect outdoor spaces to be designed for year-round use.
  • 85% said that homeowners are more interested in outdoor living space upgrades compared to before the pandemic began.
  • 63% of the experts said that homeowners wanted bigger outdoor living areas than before the pandemic.
Trends for Outdoor Living Spaces infographic

Infographic from Fixr.com

Benefits of an outdoor living room

A well-designed outdoor living room adds practical exterior functionality to the home. There are innumerable ways to decorate the space, which gives the home’s décor an update as well.

Just like indoor living rooms, no two outdoor living rooms will look the same. Each design will be dictated by how the owner plans to use the space, as well as personal style and décor preferences.

Once your backyard lounging room is completed, here are just a few ways it can be used:

  • for outdoor dinner parties with your friends and neighbours
  • as a great setting for a kids birthday party
  • for exercising or meditating
  • as a spot to watch the sunset while enjoying a nightcap
  • to work on your tan
  • as a quiet backyard sanctuary where you can put your feet up and enjoy a good book
  • as a makeshift work-from-home space

To design the ultimate deck or patio outdoor living room with all the trimmings, here are 10 ideas you can’t go wrong with.

outdoor fire pit and seating

An outdoor living room can be used to relax, for social gatherings, or even as a private work-from-home space.

1. High-quality outdoor living room furniture

You can’t do much “living” in a living room without comfortable, high-quality furniture.

Modern outdoor furniture design has come a long since the days of those wobbly folding patio chairs in gaudy colours and hard Muskoka chairs that you could never quite get comfortable sitting on.

That also means good outdoor furniture isn’t cheap, either. If you’re going to the expense of having an outdoor living space built, make room in your budget to buy the best quality furniture you can.

Looks, comfort, and function are the main things you concern yourself with when buying indoor furniture. Since exposure to the elements is now a factor, you have to add durability and how much maintenance is required to your list of outdoor furniture considerations.

Choosing materials for outdoor furniture

Wood, wicker, plastic, and metal (commonly wrought iron and aluminum) are the materials used to make most outdoor furniture. Wood furniture is the most high-maintenance, while plastic and metal furniture require the least amount of upkeep. Invest in furniture with resilient, easy to clean fabrics.

Note that furniture made with cheap metal does rust quickly. If possible, buy metal outdoor furniture that has a powder-coated paint finish, which protects against rust.

Consider the weight of the furniture if you expect to change the arrangement of your seating from time to time. You also want it to be heavy enough to stay anchored in windy weather.

A wide array of outdoor furniture types are available to help you decorate your room exactly how you want. Outdoor tables, chairs, sofas, ottomans, umbrellas, loungers, and day beds are a few examples.

To maximize your outdoor storage space, buy furniture that has room for hidden storage where things like cushions and blankets can be stashed.

2. Cover your outdoor living room

There are few things more enjoyable than spending time in a comfy outdoor living room when the weather is perfect. But when that sun gets too hot or the skies open up, an outdoor living space isn’t much use unless it has some sort of overhead covering.

If a home’s roof is extended to cover the outdoor living area, it’s important to keep the sides of the room as open as possible to still make you feel like you’re outside. The photo below is a good example of this.

A large awning is an ideal option for anyone who wants some versatility with their outdoor living room. The room can stay uncovered when the weather is nice and then quickly covered up when you need to take refuge from the hot sun or rain.

A pergola is another popular backyard shade protection solution. The overhead slats provide just enough partial coverage from the sun to keep things comfortable. Pergolas can be custom-designed to create a beautiful backyard showpiece. This chic pergola with a lattice roof and gorgeous white drapery really caught our eye.

Locating your outdoor living room inside a pavilion or gazebo are additional ways to keep the space covered. And for a less costly way to stay dry and cooler, there’s always the reliable patio umbrella.

outdoor living area with kitchen

In an outdoor living room with a permanent roof like this one, it’s important to keep the sides of the room as open as possible to still make you feel like you’re outside.

3. Add some style underfoot

To accentuate the flooring of an outdoor living room on a deck or patio, add a stylish outdoor rug or two.

Whether it’s the flooring materials or the materials used in an outdoor kitchen, most outdoor living space colour schemes lean heavily on earthy neutral colours like brown, grey, and beige. While this looks beautiful and ultra-modern, you may want to add some pops of colour to your outdoor setting. Furniture fabrics, cushions with bold colours, and some colourful rugs are great ways to accomplish this.

To really make your outdoor living room’s décor stand out, put in some extra effort to find rugs that coordinate nicely with your outdoor furniture. And if you want to switch up the look of your room in an instant, get reversible outdoor rugs with stylish patterns on both sides.

Many types of outdoor rugs are made with 100% recycled plastic and are stain-resistant and UV-resistant. They’re low-maintenance and can be cleaned with a hose. For more stubborn stains, simply use a little laundry detergent.

Outdoor floor tiles are also worth looking at as a backyard floor décor upgrade option. They’re super-easy to install and come in a variety of styles that simulate the look of grass, stone, and wood.

4. An outdoor kitchen and dining area

The only thing better than relaxing in an outdoor living room while enjoying the weather and the company of your friends and family is to do it on a full stomach.

An outdoor living room by itself qualifies as an outdoor living space, but pair your backyard lounging area with an outdoor kitchen and dining area and now you’ve got a truly complete outdoor living space.

Clearly, more homeowners feel this way based on the results from that Fixr survey, as well as other recent surveys from Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens and the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Data from those organizations are surprisingly consistent and show that 60-65% of homeowners consider an outdoor kitchen to be an important part of an outdoor living space.

Like the living room, outdoor kitchens are another big part of the trend of adding interior functionality to the outside of our homes.

Outdoor kitchen designs can be so elaborate nowadays that they can even rival the designs of many indoor luxury kitchens!

With a high-performance grill, a range of outdoor appliances, sturdy countertops for dining and food prep, and weatherproof outdoor cabinetry for storage, cooking in the backyard has never been easier or more fun.

outdoor kitchen and counter

An outdoor kitchen paired with an exterior living room gives you the full outdoor living experience.

5. An outdoor bar

An outdoor kitchen and living room takes your backyard’s functionality to the next level, but there’s still something missing…like an outdoor bar.

Brown Jordan’s 2021 Outdoor Living Report, which was part of that trio of surveys we referenced above, found that 42% of homeowners want their backyard space to include an outdoor bar. During the pandemic, online searches for outdoor bar products skyrocketed.

To set up an outdoor bar that enhances your backyard living space even more, here are some of the essential features to include:

  • an outdoor fridge
  • a kegerator/beer dispenser
  • an ice making machine
  • an outdoor sink
  • a complete beverage centre/cocktail station that includes a sink, ice bins, and bottle storage area
  • comfortable bar stools

6. Bring the home entertainment room outside

Remember when watching TV in the backyard involved using one of those tiny, boxy portable TVs with lousy reception and a grainy picture to catch the afternoon ball game? Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from those days.

Modern outdoor televisions offer the same high-quality features available on “regular” indoor TVs, such as 4K video resolution, smart technology integration, and streaming capabilities.

You might hear outdoor TVs referred to by a few different names, including:

  • weatherproof TV
  • weather-resistant TV
  • all-season TV
  • four-season TV
  • waterproof TV
  • outdoor-rated TV

They’re all essentially the same thing and specifically built to be used outside. High-quality outdoor TVs are constructed with materials and electronic components that are durable enough to handle moisture, dust, temperature fluctuations, and humidity. Part of their weatherproof design includes exteriors that have powder-coated finishes.

Just as with a modern indoor TV, the thin flatscreen design allows for some versatility when you’re considering where to locate it. Most people choose to wall mount their TV. Although most outdoor TVs provide a brighter picture to offset the effects of glare and natural outdoor light, you still need to locate it in a good spot that is out of direct sunlight.

If you want to make your outdoor living room even more unique, you could have a pro install the TV so it folds down from the ceiling when you want to use it or raises from the floor at the touch of a button. Talk about a conversation piece!

Audio ideas for an outdoor space

When you’re enjoying summer movie night in the comfort of your backyard, you’ll want the same movie theatre-quality sound we’ve become accustomed to in our indoor entertainment rooms.

A good soundbar built for outdoor use can produce rich, dynamic sound that makes the experience of watching a movie or sporting event more immersive. You could also opt for a more traditional audio setup with low-profile speakers or hidden speakers that are incorporated into the outdoor living room design.

Wireless speakers are being used in more homes because of the cleaner look that comes without any wiring. There’s also less setup involved with them and they offer convenient smart tech functionality.

outdoor speaker beside patio

With the right high-quality products, you can enjoy the same level of audio and video quality outside as you can indoors.

7. Make your outdoor living room more private

If you’re looking for a little more privacy in your outdoor living room and don’t have a few years to wait for a new hedge to fully grow, there are a few options to consider.

A fence is a natural solution to add more backyard privacy. A trellis is another way to give a backyard living area a decorative touch and more privacy, especially if you add vining plants to grow on it.

Along with giving an outdoor living space shade covering, pergolas are also useful for providing privacy and a structure to decorate with greenery. In addition to climbing plants, you can hang planters from the roof.

Waterproof outdoor curtains and patio privacy screens are other ways to maintain your privacy and they’ll also help out a little with bug control.

It’s important to avoid overdoing it with any privacy-related additions to the overhead and sides of your outdoor living space. You don’t want the space to feel too enclosed and be unable to enjoy a mild spring or summer breeze!

8. Add heating for more comfort

Outdoor Spaces Adapted for Year-Round Use infographic

Infographic from Fixr.com

As you can see from the above infographic, homeowners want to use their outdoor spaces all year round. The most practical way to make an outdoor living room a three-season or four-season room is to add some type of heating element.

Outdoor heating allows you to stay outside longer when a summer evening cools off and also during the early parts of spring and late weeks of fall.

The most popular outdoor heating products include:

  • gas or propane outdoor fire pits or fire tables
  • wood-burning fire pits
  • gas or propane outdoor fireplaces
  • wood-burning fireplaces
  • gas lamps/patio heaters
  • electric outdoor infrared heaters

Gas and propane fire pits have quickly become a favourite backyard heating solution for homeowners, mostly because of their ease of use.

59% of the experts in that Fixr survey named fire pits as a must-have for outdoor living areas.

fire pit with two chairs

Fire pits are a popular choice to heat backyard living areas.

9. Pamper yourself with a hot tub or spa

If you have the square footage in your backyard living space and really want to pamper yourself, add a hot tub or spa.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between a hot tub and a spa, it’s quite simple: a hot tub is installed above-ground, while a spa is typically installed in-ground.

A spa or hot tub provides a soothing space to relax, can be used for hydrotherapy, and are sure to become one of the most memorable features of your outdoor living space for guests.

If possible, try to strategically locate a spa or hot tub to take advantage of one of the best views your outdoor living space has to offer.

10. Light up your outdoor living area

Good lighting is essential for a backyard living area. You want your outdoor lighting to look elegant and add ambiance, while also providing enough illumination so you can function in the backyard after dark and navigate around safely.

Enhancing your backyard curb appeal with lighting can include using everything from mini lights to floor lanterns to patio lanterns to outdoor chandeliers.

There are lots of cheap outdoor lighting products out there, so do your homework before buying anything. Choose products that are built to last in Canadian weather and have a good warranty.

Unless you have experience with installing outdoor lighting, it’s best to let a trained pro handle the job. They’ll ensure everything works safely and things like wires are well-hidden.

outdoor living space at night

Boost your backyard curb appeal with functional and stylish outdoor lighting.

Make your outdoor living room something special

We hope this article has given you some ideas and inspiration to help make your planned outdoor living room and backyard living space something special and unique.

Get started on making better use of your backyard with an outdoor living project that is customized for your home. Schedule a free design consultation with Outeriors today.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also:

Gas Fire Pit vs. Wood-Burning Fire Pit: Pros and Cons

We’re all looking for an escape from the all-too-familiar four walls of our homes.

Canada has experienced a sluggish pandemic vaccine rollout, so lockdowns and travel restrictions continue to be our reality for a little while longer.

As the weather gets warmer, this means our homes will be where the majority of our time continues to be spent.

Take this opportunity to make the best of a bad situation. Upgrade a part of your home that may be getting overlooked – the backyard. With a little creativity, you can create a beautiful outdoor living area for your family to enjoy.

By adding a gas fire pit or wood-burning fire pit to an exterior area that extends your living space, you can also enjoy the great outdoors virtually year-round.

Which type of fire pit will suit your needs best? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons between gas fire pits and wood-burning fire pits.

gas fire pit

Gas fire pits vs. wood-burning fire pits: cost difference

One of the first questions most people choosing between a gas fire pit and wood-burning fire pit have is the cost difference. In both cases, the size of the fire pit will factor into the cost.

The materials the fire pit is made with is another factor that will determine the product’s cost. Common fire pit materials include:

  • cast iron
  • concrete
  • copper
  • steel
  • granite

Wood-burning fire pits tend to have cheaper upfront costs compared to gas and propane fire pits. Big-box stores offer a range of budget-friendly models that can be assembled yourself.

Natural gas fire pits typically cost a little more. Part of that cost can be attributed to the need for a professional to install the unit. The BTU output of propane and natural gas fire pits (meaning the amount of heat they produce) is another detail that affects cost.

Additional factors to consider are the ongoing costs to operate a fire pit. Naturally (no pun intended), your natural gas or liquid propane costs will be determined by how often your fire pit is used.

Wood-burning fire pits need plenty of firewood to operate. That can get expensive if you don’t have an endless supply of wood on your property and need to have it delivered.

stacked firewood

Wood-burning fire pits give you that authentic campfire feel. Just be prepared for the extra work involved, like cutting and hauling lots of wood. (Photo by Oziel Gómez from Pexels)

Installing wood-burning and gas fire pits

Fire pits can be built from the ground up in a variety of shapes with masonry products such as paver stones, bricks, and heat-resistant outdoor stucco. Most homeowners will choose to buy a pre-made fire pit, however.

One benefit of wood-burning fire pits is they can be assembled yourself. They can be placed anywhere in a backyard with a stable, level surface and enough open space.

Gas fire pit installations involve more planning and aren’t as straightforward to set up. To ensure a gas fire pit is installed properly and works safely, a certified gas technician should be hired.

Setting up a natural gas line for a fire pit will be less of a logistical issue if you’re already planning to add a built-in gas grill to an outdoor kitchen.

Fire pits that run on propane use the same type of small tank that propane grills do, so their setup process is relatively straightforward. If using a larger propane tank is preferred, the services of a professional would be required to install it.

Fuelling your outdoor fire: what you need to know

The convenience of using natural gas when compared to using wood to fuel a fire pit is undeniable. A dedicated natural gas line provides a never-ending supply of fuel. Once it’s installed, your only concern will essentially be paying your monthly gas bill!

One issue that may make natural gas impractical for a fire pit is the location of your property. In rural locations that don’t have access to natural gas services, wood and propane fire pits are your only options.

Propane fire pits offer a little less convenience since the tanks they use need to be refilled or switched out. You can invest in a larger permanent propane tank to cut down on the need to regularly refill your fuel supply. Cottage Life magazine explains here why “propane is super practical for the cottage”.

Wood-burning fire pits, on the other hand, require a lot more work and planning to operate. Here are four questions to ask yourself if you’re considering buying a wood-burning fire pit:

  1. Can you handle the physical demands of cutting down trees and splitting, moving, and stacking wood?
  2. If you need to have firewood delivered, can you get the right type of wood in a timely manner from a reliable company?
  3. Are you willing to invest the extra time it takes to maintain a wood-burning fire pit (especially cleaning it)?
  4. Do you have a dry place away from your house or cottage that can be used for firewood storage?

How easy is it to start and extinguish fires?

The ease of use of a fire pit ends up being a major factor when choosing what type to buy.

One of the biggest drawbacks of wood-burning fire pits is the amount of time and effort it can take to light them. Sometimes, even more time is needed to put them out!

To fully extinguish a wood fire in a pit, the best practice is to allow the wood to fully burn down to ashes. Follow that up by pouring at least a couple of buckets of water over the pit area. When no sign of burning embers is left and no sizzling sound from the water can be heard any longer, the fire should be safely out.

Or you could just push a button to start and stop your outdoor fire.

Here’s one area where the convenience of a propane or natural gas fire pit stands out. Gas fire pits come with a variety of ways to get a fire started easily. The quickest method is via a remote ignition system that starts the fire with the flick of a wall switch or press of a remote control button. Push button ignition systems (like the ones propane grills have) are another type. Some inexpensive gas fire pits can be started the old-fashioned way – with a match or lighter stick.

Turning off an outdoor fire with a gas fire pit is just as easy as starting it. With the press of a button or by shutting off the pit’s gas supply valve, the fire is safely extinguished.

gas fire pit at night

Natural gas and propane fire pits offer the convenience of instant ignition systems.

What type of fire pit is legal in my backyard?

Zoning restrictions in your area will dictate what type of fire pit you can and cannot use, so research your local laws and regulations before making a purchase.

In Vaughan, wood-burning fire pits and fireplaces (also known as chimineas) are allowed, but they are restricted in Toronto.

Areas that do permit outdoor wood burning can issue temporary fire burn bans when dry weather conditions increase the risk of grass, trees, and other vegetation catching fire.

Because natural gas and propane fire pits allow for more control when they’re being used, they’re considered much less of a safety hazard.

Your best option for complying with Ontario’s Fire Code is to get a propane or natural gas fire pit that is certified by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA.)

Gas fire pit vs. wood-burning fire pit smoke output

One of the most appealing features of burning wood is the unique ambiance it provides. The cozy warmth, crackling logs, dancing flames, and pleasant smell generated by an outdoor fire can’t be beat.

Unfortunately, those benefits are accompanied by one glaring negative – the smoke. Nothing spoils a fun time around an outdoor fire like having too much smoke cause your eyes to sting and tear up, or having to constantly change where you’re sitting to avoid blowing smoke.

Wood fires also lose some of their appeal when the odour from the smoke gets into your hair and lingers on your clothing. Drifting smoke into the yards of your neighbours may not be appreciated, either. The Canadian Lung Association actually recommends that you don’t burn wood in a residential setting because of the potential respiratory problems it can cause.

Outdoor fires fuelled by natural gas and propane admittedly deliver a more “sterile” burning experience. Although they may lack the authenticity and charm of a wood-burning fire, at least there’s no smoke to contend with.

Emissions and energy-efficiency of fire pits

The lack of smoke produced by a gas fire pit makes it significantly more energy-efficient than burning wood. The cleaner burn of natural gas emits 99% fewer emissions than wood. Propane burns cleaner than wood, but not as cleanly as natural gas.

Using gas or propane for a fire pit is more eco-friendly in another way besides reducing the amount of pollutants you put into the atmosphere. You’re not contributing to live trees being cut down to produce any firewood.

Gas fire pits are also energy-efficient because they provide a steady, controllable level of heat. The same can’t be said of wood-burning fires, which can be unpredictable and difficult to maintain at a comfortable heat level.

How easy is it to maintain a gas fire pit or wood-burning fire pit?

The convenience advantage of gas fire pits compared to wood-burning fire pits extends to the level of maintenance they need.

Wood-burning fire pits need to be cleaned after each use, requiring you to dispose of the leftover ashes. The process of gathering wood to burn (whether it’s doing it yourself or having it delivered) also qualifies as maintenance for the fire pit.

A gas fire pit involves relatively little maintenance since there’s nothing solid being burned. The most you’ll have to do is occasionally wipe it down and inspect the gas lines for blockages and leaks. For propane fire pits, you’ll have to replace the propane tank once in awhile.

Any fire pit should be covered when it’s not being used to protect it from rain and snow.

fire logs and ashes

Ashes should be cleaned out of a wood-burning fire pit after every use. (Photo by Barthy Bonhomme from Pexels)

What type of fire pit is the most durable?

Covering a fire pit when you’re not using it will extend its life, but you still need to make sure the product you’re buying is made with high-quality materials that will last for years.

Between the heat generated by a fire pit and the fact it’s located outdoors, cheap materials will break down quickly.

Those budget-friendly fire pits we mentioned earlier are usually made with cheap steel that is manufactured overseas. They tend to rust quickly and you’ll end up replacing the entire pit sooner than you’d prefer to.

Concrete gas fire pits are very durable. Outeriors sells handcrafted Dekko fire pits that are made with a proprietary lightweight concrete that is is less than half the weight of regular concrete. The Ontario-based manufacturer states that “Our products are built with longevity in mind”.

How safe are gas and wood-burning fire pits?

All types of fire pits require vigilance and care when they’re being used.

Gas fire pits pose less of a fire hazard than wood-burning fire pits, but they still need to be periodically inspected and maintained for maximum safety. When lighting a propane or natural gas fire pit manually, it’s wise to use a longer lighter stick or a metal match stick holder to keep you further away from the ignition point.

Always shut off the propane or natural gas when you’re finished using the fire pit. Some gas fire pit models have features like automatic turn-off timers that remove the guesswork of whether or not you remembered to turn the unit off. Tempered glass wind guards are another safety feature worth considering.

Because of the sparks and embers produced, wood-burning fire pits can’t be placed too close to your home, wood structures, or anything that is flammable. A wood fire needs to be monitored even more closely when it’s windier. Fire pit spark screens that prevent embers from leaving the pit area are a good investment. And once again, wood fires need to be fully extinguished when you’re finished enjoying them.

fire pit on rooftop deck

With the right setup and safety measures, it is possible to install gas and wood-burning fire pits on a wooden or composite deck.

I want to purchase a gas fire pit. What’s next?

Now that you have a better understanding of the pros and cons of wood-burning and gas fire pits, you can make a more informed decision on the fire pit best suited for your outdoor living space.

Outeriors has a variety of propane and natural gas concrete fire pit designs and accessories by Dekko to help you enjoy more time in your backyard throughout the year.

If you’d like to go beyond a fire pit and create an outdoor kitchen or upgrade your outdoor living space in other ways, request a free consultation with us today. You can also visit our showroom in Vaughan to learn more.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also: