The line between the indoors and outside has been blurring more and more for a long time now. Years ago, a patio might have been saved for the occasional barbecue on a stand-alone grill or an afternoon session of laying out on a chaise to catch some rays and take a dip in the pool. And then it was back inside to clean up and retire for the rest of the evening. But today, you can do almost anything outside on your patio that you can do inside of your house. Full outdoor kitchens, dining rooms and bars. Comprehensive entertainment systems. Edible gardens. Outdoor showers. And completely outfitted living rooms where—thanks to innovative rugs, textiles, furniture pieces and lighting—it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the furnishings here and in the conventional living room inside. In fact, so many brands produce fabrics that are treated and durable enough to withstand the elements outside but are still stylish and homey enough to work indoors. Maybe you have kids, or animals, or lots and lots of friends and family who can't get enough of your hospitality. Or maybe you like to enjoy a stylish respite all by yourself while you sip your coffee and curl up with a good book. Either way, your outdoor space should be used well, and therefore it should be designed well.
Slideshow images via Crate&Barrel
Image credit: Tessa Neustadt via Emily Henderson
Take Emily Henderson for instance. She gets it. The Los Angeles-based stylist, TV personality and lifestyle maven renovated her patio last year into the ultimate outdoor entertaining space. And since she's so fabulous at it, House Beautiful decided to publish it. From gorgeous climbing pink roses (hey, we are outside after all), to chic, stackable Windsor dining chairs taken way up about 100 notches from the old metal patio furniture of yesterday (she even used an outdoor version of a high-back wing chair—a peacock chair—at the head of the table, just like in a formal dining room), to the organic tabletop pieces, to the gold lanterns and candelabras, to the towering wood bird she found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California, to wicker poufs and copper stools that form additional conversation areas, her updated patio is every bit of eclecticism and whimsy you'd expect from the style guru. There's even a black-and-white blanket and blush pillow at the dining table that you'd normally save for a cozy lounge chair inside. And that tile! Never underestimate the impact your floors can have, even outside. Emily used the Burgos pattern from Granada Tile. She chose a colorway that was dark enough to feel original to the home and full of character yet classic and timeless and not so light that it would get crazy dirty.
And as any good hostess will tell you, one bar cart obviously isn't enough. While she already had a mango wood cart placed near the dining table that she could use as a serving and prep station (styled not just with bottles but pretty blooms and lanterns too), she found an antique French marble table that gives her more countertop space for food and beverages when she has an overflow of guests.
Image credit: Tessa Neustadt via Emily Henderson
And those indoor-outdoor fabrics we mentioned? West Elm has it down to a science. One of their artist teams, Zoe Bios, designed a painterly pillow for them that can be inside but is weather and water-resistant so that you can add a dash of abstract beauty to your outdoor space, too. After all, just like Emily knows, it's all about the details. You might find an outdoor sofa you love or the perfect lounge chair, but you certainly can't stop there. And careful attention should be paid to your tabletop elements, as well. Lightweight, unbreakable materials like bamboo and melamine are ideal for your glassware and dishes. And have you seen Lilly Pulitzer's collection for Pottery Barn? Her Palm Beachy beach towels will help you bring her famous resort wear fashion line into your outdoor living space.
Image credits clockwise from top left: Outdoor Zoe Bios Pillows, West Elm / Glassware Caddy, West Elm / Lilly Pulitzer Oh Shello Pool Towel, Pottery Barn / Xenia Taler Bamboo Dinner Plates, West Elm
Side note, here's a quick peek at the artists behind the Outdoor Zoe Bios Pillows from West Elm:
And here are a few more of our favorite outdoor living spaces. Though we wish we were actually lounging in each of them, living our best lives and having a summer cocktail underneath the shade of a gorgeous umbrella, we'll settle for the second best thing: being inspired to spruce up our own backyards. We hope they do the same for you!
Image credit: Build Your Own Portside Outdoor Low Sectional Pieces via West Elm
Image credit: Round Market Umbrella via Pottery Barn
Image credit: Palmetto All-Weather Wicker Sofa in Black via Pottery Barn
Image credit: All-Weather Wicker Colorblock Woven Outdoor Chaise Lounger via West Elm
Image credit: Capsule Outdoor Settee via West Elm