Your outdoor space is your own private paradise, whether you have a tiny city balcony or a sprawling backyard garden. IKEA can help you make the most of it with easy updates, double-duty furniture, and thoughtful touches. “Your outdoor space should feel like an extension of your home, so fill it with what makes you happy,” says IKEA Interior Design Leader Abbey Stark.
Depending on your lifestyle, that might mean focusing on bright colors and enough seating to host impromptu neighbor hangs. Or it might translate to creating the perfect oasis for solo relaxation. What’s important to remember is size doesn’t have to limit your outdoor zone’s potential, thanks to IKEA’s products designed to maximize storage and flexibility.
Here, Stark shares tips and tricks for upgrading every kind of outdoor space.
Pick a Hero Piece
When starting from scratch, Stark suggests selecting one piece you really love and going from there. “This will help guide the decision-making during the design process,” she says. To narrow down your choices, think about what you most want your space to do for you.
If you’re looking to set up a dinner party-ready outdoor dining room, begin with a table and chair set your friends and family will want to gather around. Want your balcony to double as a sunny spot for morning coffee? A comfortable chaise lounge or loveseat is a great starting point.
Consider the Elements
Whether the forecast calls for rain or shine, you’ll want your outdoor furniture—especially pieces that include fabric, like sofas and chairs—to be prepared for any kind of weather. “Look for materials and fabrics that can withstand the elements and are easy to clean,” says Stark. “Select cushions that are fade-resistant and water-repellent and can be removed to be washed.”
It also might be worth investing in covers for larger outdoor pieces, especially if you plan to leave them out year-round or are gearing up for a summer vacation.
Keep It Fresh
“Textiles are an affordable and fun way to refresh your space annually,” says Stark. While bigger pieces like tables and sofas will be year-after-year favorites, you can swap out smaller accessories to instantly transform the look and feel of your outdoor zone.
A boho-chic look—think a trendy outdoor cocktail lounge or a poolside hangout space at a chic hotel—is always a winner. Pick up a few rattan baskets to hold embroidered throw pillows and graphic-print blankets, and grab a few LED candles and solar-powered lanterns for the ultimate mood lighting setup.
Go Green, Literally
“In my mind, the more plants the better,” says Stark. “They provide texture, color, and life.” When choosing planters, go with a single color (like terracotta), or texture (such as rattan), while varying the sizes and shapes—this way, everything from a ficus tree in the corner to a hanging succulent will feel like a cohesive green family, Stark says.
White wicker and pastel ceramic pots will give your plants a country garden aesthetic, while more rustic materials like wood and galvanized metal pair well with desert-inspired cacti and succulents.
Choose Bold Colors
An outdoor space can be a great place to experiment with the kind of vibrant colors and playful prints you might shy away from in a living room or bedroom. Stark suggests starting from the bottom: Outdoor rugs ground your seating and dining areas while giving pattern and color in your outdoor space,” she says. Or forgo the rug and lay down some super-easy to install outdoor flooring in a Spanish-style tile pattern.
Another way to liven up your patio is to pick up a set of bright dishes and serveware that you reserve for dining en plein air. Choose a rich turquoise or playful pink you might not select for everyday indoor use. Melamine plates and trays printed with tropical birds or summery seashells are also a fun option—and they won’t shatter if accidentally dropped on the patio.
Sometimes, your balcony might be where you go for solo reading and reflecting, while at other times it’s where you host family and friends. To make sure your outdoor space is truly flexible, “think stackable and foldable,” advises Stark. This will help you get the most use out of your outdoor space and stay clutter-free too.
“Stackable stools are a great way to save space and can be used as seating or landing space for a drink,” she says, while “dining tables that are foldable are another way to save space when not enjoying a meal.”
Whatever the size of your outdoor area, one way to make it feel bigger—and even more pulled-together—is to make the most of vertical space. Create a green wall with a tall shelf or hang plants and lighting at different heights to draw the eye up and keep things feeling open and airy. A trellis is great for this purpose, especially when filled with fast-growing climbing plants with colorful blooms like clematis or bougainvillea.
Need more garden inspiration? Browse IKEA’s gallery of dreamy outdoor spaces.
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