Originally Published on April 28, 2023. Last Updated on May 25, 2023.
You have a nice back deck or patio your family loves to use, but you’re finding that there’s just not enough room to bring everyone’s vision to life. Is it possible for one outdoor space to be a study setting by day and an entertainment area by night? Can it become a craft room, a dining space, and an outdoor office?
With a bit of forethought and creativity, the answer is yes.
To accommodate all your outdoor endeavors, the best solution is to design complementary zones that combine to form one coherent space. Browse our favorite outdoor furniture combinations and utility ideas below to breathe life into a multiuse outdoor room your family will enjoy for years.
Figure Out the Square Footage
Before choosing the primary functions of your outdoor area, measure it to see how much room you have to work with.
If you have a larger square or circular space you want to break into sections, map it out on paper and brainstorm where you want walkways to go. These could be actual pathways or narrow unfurnished areas naturally created by privacy screens, outdoor rugs, or the backs of furniture to allow for easy movement.
Measure each zone and walkway and add the dimensions to your map. This process will help you get an idea of how much workable square footage you have to work with, and when you look at furniture measurements, you’ll know right away if they’ll fit.
Aim for All-Season Utility
Depending on where you live, your deck or backyard may only get used part of the year. But you can design a multiuse space that’s usable year-round with the right furnishings.
- Outdoor heaters: Whether wall-mounted or floor units, outdoor heaters keep the chill at bay and the party going.
- Fire pit tables: Light up the long winter nights with the warm glow of an outdoor fire pit table.
- Pillows and blankets: Pile on the pillows and blankets to keep your family comfy and cozy.
- Weatherproof storage: When the party ends, you’ll need a place to store those pillows, blankets, and other decor.
- Umbrellas and awnings: Stay out of the rain or sun with a patio umbrella or retractable awning.
- Screens and curtains: Keep strong winds out or let the cool breeze in with screens and curtains you can open at your leisure.
- Outdoor fans: Circulate heat or stay cool with ceiling or box fans.
- Durable furniture: Probably the most essential items, outdoor furniture gives family and friends places to relax no matter the season.
Try These Outdoor Room Ideas
Now that you have the parameters on paper, get inspired with these furniture combinations for your outdoor room.
1. Dining and Deep Seating
The most traditional combination is a dining set next to a deep seating set where your family can relax before or after meals. A bonus of this pairing lies in the deep seating: The straight lines on the backrest of a sofa or the right angle of an L-shaped sectional set help shape walking paths that naturally separate your spaces.
Depending on your preferred style—casual or formal, rustic or modern, spacious or streamlined—there are dozens of styles to choose from. Whatever you choose, pick pieces and sets that can withstand rain, direct sunlight, and other harsh conditions.
2. All Work and No Play Space
This idea puts one dining set to use in multiple ways. If you work from home, love DIY projects, and enjoy dining alfresco, a simple workspace on your deck lets you do all this and more. The key to success is styling the space around the set to meet your needs.
- Install weatherproof storage compartments on one side of the room to keep your office, craft, and dining supplies safe and separated.
- Choose color-changing outdoor lights that you can turn from cool to warm to match the mood.
- Add a few potted plants that add color and a sense of calm to the space.
3. Food-Centric Furniture Combo
A large back deck is ideal for a complete outdoor kitchen—especially if you have a penchant for entertaining or look for any excuse to fire up the grill. Counter stools lining a kitchen ledge are ideal for Friday night cocktails with a few friends. Spring for a large counter-height dining set that adds to your serving space and makes room for extended family brunches.
When choosing materials for the functional aspects of your kitchen, stick with weatherproof options like stainless steel appliances and granite, stone, or marble countertops. Install sinks, stoves, and mini refrigerators along the back wall of your home so they can connect to plumbing and gas or electric lines.
4. Evening Entertainment Area
Make a cozy nighttime retreat for games or movie marathons by planning an outdoor home theater. If you have a pergola or gazebo covering your deck, install a projector or an outdoor flat-screen TV at one end. Furnish the area with a deep seating sectional arranged in a semi-circle so every family member has the best seat in the house.
For teens and tweens, style a game and play area at the other end of the room with more deep seating and tables. This comfy-cozy nook is perfect for snacking on sweets or challenging friends to a favorite board game.
5. Poolside Lounge Setting
A poolside space calls for waterproof furniture designed to emulate the local country club scene or your kid’s favorite waterpark. We have two recommendations to share:
- Buy all your furniture from the same collection—start with a few chaise lounges to get your tan on when summer arrives. If your family loves eating by the pool or playing games between bouts of swimming, pair the chaises with a casual bar set topped with a colorful umbrella.
- If you want a space that accommodates happy hours or a quick lunch, opt for an Adirondack set with a complementing side table where friends can snack, relax, and keep the tunes going with a wireless outdoor speaker.
6. An Outdoor Space for Any Time
You’re an outdoor enthusiast. You love catching rays, watching the sunset, and seeing the stars light up the night sky. When your deck or patio sits in full sun, you can curate a furniture combination that makes the most of the elements in every season.
Pair comfort and convenience by situating a chaise lounge set with wheels on one side of your space. You can easily reorient yourself toward the sun as it skims the sky. Keep sunscreen, magazines, and drinks on a nearby side table.
On the other side of the deck or yard, surround a fire pit table with coordinating Adirondacks and rocking chairs so you can smell the crisp autumn leaves, munch on freshly seared s’mores, and swap stories late into the evening.
How do you build an outdoor room?
To build an outdoor room, start by picking its purpose(s). Will it be for relaxation, dining, game night, or all three? Once you choose the function, look inside your home for design inspiration. This will reinforce the connection between your indoor and outdoor spaces. Then mark the room’s parameters by setting up privacy screens or unrolling an area rug.
Follow up by selecting furniture and decor that fit the designated functions (e.g., a dining set and patio umbrella in a breakfast nook; or Adirondack chairs, matching side tables, and a fully stocked bar cart for a low-key lounge area). Finish the space with vases, pots of flowers, and wall decor that can be changed with the seasons.
How do you make a backyard cozier?
Here are some tips for making your backyard extra inviting:
- Choose warm lighting.
- Stock up on outdoor-friendly pillows and spare blankets.
- Use comfortable outdoor furniture.
- Incorporate an outdoor area rug.
- Fill the space with pretty flowers.
- Warm up the ambiance with a fire pit table.
- Add water features and wind chimes to invoke a spa-inspired atmosphere.
Does an outdoor room add value?
A well-designed outdoor room can increase your home’s property value. Backyard living rooms, kitchens, and offices appeal to homebuyers because they can immediately enjoy their new outdoors without much heavy lifting.