Arthur Rutenberg Homes Blog


How to Create a Luxury Outdoor Living Room

Posted on July 6th, 2015

Create a Luxury Outdoor Living Room

outdoor living room ideasDo you need a special place to escape from the stresses of everyday life? Do you want a comfortable and carefree spot to entertain family and friends? An open-air living room just might be the answer, acting as an exotic spot for a staycation or a comfortable place to make memories with the special people in your life.

When creating an outdoor living space, you want to consider the same things as you would for your indoor spaces … things such as circulation, furniture, lighting and accessories are important. You will need to address other issues as well – wind exposure, sun, rain and integration of the outdoor living space into your current landscape.

The outdoor living space can be open-air taking full advantage of the sun, or sheltered using structures such as pergolas, arbors or gazebos. Umbrellas and awnings can be used to provide flexibility, choosing between sun or shade within the same space. Features such as an outdoor fireplace and heavy timber trellises create areas that are usable year round – the trellis providing shade in the heat of the summer and the fireplace providing warmth during cooler weather.

Hedges, retaining walls, fences, outside walls and architectural features help define the space as well as provide privacy. Let’s look at features you can use to create your own unique and inviting outdoor living space.


Lighting is more than utilitarian. It also provides ambiance and sets the tone for your outdoor living space. Use different types of lighting, and different levels of lighting, to add interest and visual appeal. Choices include:

  • Chandeliers
  • Strings of lights
  • Lanterns
  • Candles
  • Sconces
  • Table lamps
  • Floor lamps
  • Glass countertops with embedded fiber optics

Furniture for Outdoor Living

Furniture defines the function of the area and becomes the very foundation of your outdoor living space. Tables create dining areas as well as places where large groups can sit together comfortably. Benches, chairs and stools create sitting areas for small intimate encounters or larger crowds depending upon their arrangement. Be sure to provide a variety of seating options – not everyone considers a lounge chair comfortable.

Pillows and cushions make chairs and benches more comfortable, and incorporate additional color and texture into the design. Furniture and accessories should be made of materials that can withstand the weather conditions. Teak wood and weatherproof fabrics are ideal choices.

Fire Features

Fire features fascinate and enchant, while at the same time, creating ambiance. They also add heat and provide light. Fire brings warmth to the space, literally and emotionally.

Different fire features are available:

  • Fire places
  • Fire pits
  • Fire bowls
  • Tiki torches

Two-sided fireplaces can divide an area within the outdoor living space creating multiple rooms.

Water Features

Water features can be as small as a miniature tabletop fountain or as large as a koi pond. They incorporate soothing sights and sounds, enhancing any outdoor living space. Water features create an environment that relieves stress and encourages relaxation. Water features also create a habitat for birds and butterflies.

Examples of water features that will add peace and serenity to your backyard oasis include:

  • Waterfalls
  • Fountains
  • Ponds
  • Rain gardens
  • Rain bells

Heating and Cooling Outdoor Living Spaces

In some locales, heating and cooling are critical components necessary to make your outdoor living area functional and comfortable during temperature extremes.

In cold climes, a fireplace, a fire pit, a chiminea or an outdoor patio heater can be used to provide warmth. When the weather warms up, a couple options are available. In a covered living area, such as an arbor, a ceiling fan can easily be installed. Misters provide additional cooling.

The Outdoor Kitchen

A well-appointed outdoor kitchen enables you to prepare, cook, serve and clean-up after a complete meal entirely outside.

The grill is an essential component to every outdoor kitchen. They come in all types, shapes and sizes. They can be portable, pedestal or custom-built. They can be gas, electric, charcoal, pellet or a combination of any of these. Grills may also include a griddle, cast-iron wok, rotisserie system or a smoker.

There are many other appliances and features devoted to outdoor living from which to choose:

  • Side burners
  • Warming drawers
  • Pizza oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Ice maker
  • Built-in sink
  • Wine chillers
  • Beer taps
  • Beverage and cocktail centers

The working surfaces should be composed of weather-resistant materials such as stainless steel, concrete, glass or stone. Choose a flooring that complements your home – one that is durable and weather resistant. Materials such as concrete or slate work well.

Good task lighting positioned above the cooking and prep areas is essential.  An outdoor bar equipped with stools completes the kitchen and makes entertaining elegant and easy.

Outdoor Entertainment

No outdoor living space would be complete without surround-sound speakers and a drop-down plasma TV with an anti-glare screen. Wireless speakers enable their placement anywhere within the outdoor living space.

Accessorize your Outdoor Living Space

Add accessories to complete the design, creating a space that is inviting and alluring. Items to consider:

  • Draperies – Add softness and color to your outdoor living space with draperies. They also create privacy and intimacy. Make sure to use high quality, weatherproof fabrics.
  • Art – Any object that can withstand the elements may be used to add interest and personalize your outdoor space.
  • Potted plants – Plants soften the space and add an exotic flair, while incorporating color and texture at the same time. Choose pots made of lightweight materials. Use plant bases with wheels for larger, heavier plants to make moving them easier.
  • Rugs – Soften and pull an area together with rugs. Choose durable materials to withstand the weather. Natural fibers such as seagrass, hemp, sisal and jute work well. Rugs made of synthetic materials are also available.
  • Candles and Lanterns

In closing …

An outdoor living space should be an extension of your home. Walking into the space should be just like entering another room within your home. Use these tips to accomplish this goal - create a place in which to enjoy a moment of solitude, and a place to make memories with family and friends.

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