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BRIANA: Here’s a seasonable topic from our own Camille: Outdoor living rooms. It seems like people are making their decks, patios and yards more elaborate and bringing all the comforts of the indoors outside. There are plenty of beautiful examples of this trend, like this cabana, but what are your personal feelings on elaborate outdoor living rooms? Are living rooms even greater in the great outdoors or are they big wastes of space?

Do You Like the Outdoor Living Room Furniture Trend?

Image: Courtesy of Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills

MEG: That cabana makes me want to lounge outside in a caftan with a turban on my head and a spritzer in my hand all day long. I think it’s crucial to create spaces in your home that are intended for rest, relaxation, and time spent outdoors. The more we can make our homes invite that type of chill vibe, the better! If I had a backyard big enough to hold my own cabana, you better believe I’d be on that in a heartbeat. And let’s just ASSUME a hammock is involved, okay?

GRANT: I’d love to have a space like this, but l always wonder where the people put all this mess after the photo op is finished.

Do You Like the Outdoor Living Room Furniture Trend?

Design: Jamie Durie

As it is, my tiny outdoor set gets so dirty so fast and I’m super resentful of the citronella candles I need to bring inside.

FARIMA: I use my tiny, dinky screened-in deck all the time – when I’m eating dinner, hosting a party or just because it’s a beautiful day. If I had a really nice outdoor room, I don’t think I would spend much time indoors.

KAYLA: I only have three awning windows providing sunlight into my floor-to-ceiling concrete loft, so sometimes my place feels like a jail cell when the weather goes south. If I had even a tiny outdoor space, I’m not sure I would ever go inside. I find myself getting caught up in outdoor furnishings and then realizing, “Oh yeah, I have absolutely no reason to add these to my shopping cart…” Womp. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a locale with beautiful year-round weather, wouldn’t you deck out a space you could enjoy January through December? I would.

Me in the mornings: http://heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/conair.gif?w=640

MEG: Same here. After living for years with no outdoor space, I now have a beautiful balcony that overlooks our shared garden and backyard. I take any chance I can to sit and drink coffee or read out there, it’s a total game-changer. Having outdoor space invites those zen moments in your day-to-day life, and it has really enhanced and improved the quality of my life. I fully support maximizing these spaces in whatever way encourages you to get out there and enjoy it. I’ve added window boxes with flowers, potted plants, Tibetan bells, and a constellation votive holder. All of these little touches make the balcony feel like an extension of our home and I am in love with it.

P.S. All I really want out of life is The Golden Girls lanai.

JESSICA: I’m thinking I’m required by law to say outdoor rooms are the bee’s knees. However, I can barely keep up with properly furnishing my indoor space. I finally bought a couch last week. (For those of you keeping score, I moved to Atlanta almost a year ago.) I sympathize with neglected lawn-owners across the country. I’m also very limited on outdoor space — my balcony has room for maybe two chairs and that’s it. And even then they’ll be competing with a hoarder corner of gardening supplies.

::cue “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid::

What would I give, if I could live inside of this photo…

Do You Like the Outdoor Living Room Furniture Trend?

Image: Jamie Rector

What would I pay, to spend a day warming by this fire pit….

Do You Like the Outdoor Living Room Furniture Trend?

Image: Jamie Rector

I’ll stop. But you get the point.

TREVOR: I prefer sunrooms to actual outdoor spaces. Maybe because I don’t have to worry about the rain ruining everything, or storing everything during the winter months like Grant said. They just seem more accessible to me. But maybe we should all just move down to the Keys so we can enjoy an outdoor space year round. I’m game.

KELLEY: When I moved into my little 1970s rancher, I had a 14 x 17 patio on the back that did nothing but collect the baking heat in the afternoon. So I put a screened porch on it and outfitted it with Craigslist finds and stuff from my garage. It’s still not quite HGTV-worthy (My pillows don’t match! My “hey y’all” sign isn’t quite working on that wall!) but OMG, I sure do love having dinners out there with friends. And watching storms blow in. And reading on the couch …. So I’m all in favor of outdoor rooms, despite my frustration with what I’m sure are now-soaked cushions, thanks to this morning’s rain. I’ll take those over that awful, bare patio any day. (As for that “little gem” in NYC? Where the h3ll do you SIT?!)

TREVOR: I’m pretty sure I’ll die if I don’t get a “Hey Y’all” sign.

BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN: Ugh, outdoor rooms. My all-time favorite space to design. Here’s my issue: in the city, I have an amazing midcentury house with an elaborate outdoor living room with a huge dog run, but it’s the city so I’ve got nothing to look at except my fence and grass. While it’s gorgeous, I honestly use it days a year because taking all the cushions in and out is more of a hassle since I seldom use the space. Now, in the country, I have a SICK view which beckons me to come outside all day, everyday. With the exception of August, I’m lounging in my outdoor living room at least an hour and a half everyday because that breathtaking focal point just takes all the stress away. It’s really all about the view. Also, mosquitoes suck, literally.

Do You Like the Outdoor Living Room Furniture Trend?

Design: Brian Patrick Flynn


We’ve opened up about outdoor rooms, now tell us what you think:


Defend the Trend

71 Responses

  1. DBCoop says:

    Okay, let me set the stage for my answer to the outdoor living room debate: I live in Palm Springs. Beautiful scenery, stunning mountain views from my backyard, patio cover the width of my house and a pool and spa to swim and play in.

    Nice, but let's face it — summer days in the desert are beastly hot. Then add in the evening winds for that convection oven feel. You DO NOT want to be outside, unless it's in the pool. The rest of the year is more or less ideal, but….

    With 350 days a year of sunshine and a convertible to cruise the boulevards, I otherwise avoid the sun as much as possible. I'm past the age of requiring that lounge lizard look!

    Besides, I started off with 16 chairs/cushions, 2 tables, 3 end tables and 4 chaise lounges to furnish my new home's backyard. I've finally come to my senses and downsized to 10 chairs/cushions, 1 table, 3 end tables and 2 chaise lounges. Taking all those cushions and lounge pads in and out of the garage is a hassle, and with the sand, dust, blazing sun and birds, they can't stay outside for long without looking gritty, rough and fated for an early demise. I don't bother setting out the umbrellas anymore because they simply blow over with the desert winds.

    Even when I'm up in the mountains for my month-long "beat-the-heat" summer retreat and I spend more time outdoors on the back deck, I still prefer a simple table and chairs with a pair of chaise lounges for comfort.

    The downside of the mountain scenario? (There always seems to be one!) As Brian Patrick Flynn commented, "mosquitoes suck" and I'm always the main course.

    So, I admit, those grand and glorious outdoor living rooms do look really inviting, but I've come to the conclusion that they're not my cup of tea and something I don't need. I'll leave that to others with a different lifestyle and location who don't mind the work of maintaining it all — like at a favorite hotel, on a cruise ship or relaxing at the fully-fitted-out homes of out-of-town friends kind enough to offer me the use of their outdoor living rooms for a long weekend or week-long getaway.

    And there you have it — my thoughts, in a few words, more or less….

  2. CplusE says:

    I love an outdoor living room as long as it is cool outside. I despise heat and humidity. Here in Georgia I only use the deck in the very late fall, winter, and early spring months. When we lived in Colorado, I enjoyed being outside more often, unless the weather was absolutely unbearable (I even liked shoveling snow off the deck on a cold but sunny morning, because I'm just weird that way). Since we lived in the foothills mosquitoes were not much of a problem, so I was outdoors a lot. We had a T-house built in the back yard for lounging, but I found that I spent more time doing things rather than just sitting around. We even had a small hot tub, and a big outdoor table for dining al fresco. So I guess outdoor living spaces make sense to me as long as the climate is appropriate, and for me that climate is cool and dry rather than hot and humid!

  3. New Garden Style says:

    As has been pointed out, a lot depends on where you live. Here in the UK, we are slowly embracing the outdoor living space theme. Our weather is very changeable, so a full blown outdoor living room is not really feasible. But when the sun is out, we certainly make the most of it!

    I think the key to a successful space is not to over do it. I'm all for upgrading your grill to more of an outdoor kitchen, but trying to replicate your lounge or dining room in your garden is overkill and a lot of unnecessary work. The key is to add pieces that are functional, then add some subtle styling, through decor and a piece of garden art. Everybody has their own taste, but I find a lot of the imagery related to outdoor living spaces a bit on the vulgar side and lacking real character.

    Outdoor living spaces are certainly great for increasing the amount of time you spend in your garden. By installing some comforts such as good lighting design, shelter and a source of heat, you can enjoy your garden all year round

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  5. flowergirlcraft says:

    Living in Alaska where we have snow from October thru April this is not practical. Would it be nice for the few months we do have temperate weather…..meaning 50-70 degrees yes, however, where would I store everything. Love spending time outdoors, but mosquitoes rule the world and the time you get to spend outdoors.

  6. Michael says:

    Living in the PNW, a covered patio is a must if you want to use the outdoor space all year around. Nonetheless, my backyard and covered patio gets a lot of dust so I'm constantly using covers to protect the furniture when not in use. Insects are not an issue but rain is.

    My outdoor living space priorities; convenient to use year around, quiet & private, flexible space.

    I'm a big fan of using high quality, metal chimeneas in outdoor living spaces. I fasten a 3/4" plywood board to a furniture dolly, place a bbq mat over the board and then put the chimenea on top of the dolly. This way I can move the chimenea to any place in the living space I want. The chinenea always direct the smoke upward, so no one ever has smoke in their face and with the metal chimenea, the heat radiates 360 degrees. I also use this chimenea method on my vacation home in the San Juan Islands which has synthetic decks and gets a lot of rain & wind. I also put a bbq mat in front of the chimenea to keep the sparks from burning the decking material

    I also use deck boxes to store all of my outdoor cushions/furniture covers and bbq accessories/smoker pellets when not in use. This keeps them clean and accessible when needed.

    Since flexibility is one of my priorities, I don't feel the need for a built-in kitchen. My bbq & smoker are on wheels so I can locate then anywhere on the patio I want depending on the weather and/or party.

    My must haves are adirondack chairs, a small table and a Sonos streaming music system so I can always enjoy music and a nice cigar w/libation.

  7. Mary Mitcham says:

    I'm retired. We love our outdoor rooms!!! Yes, I live in Texas and summers can be brutal but good design solves most of the problems. The 50'x 20' deck with 2 ceiling fans and a misting fan overlook Lake Livingston. Bird feeders hang over the grass so bird stuff doesn't mess it up. Large pots of plants are self-watering. The bouncy wrought-iron furniture is comfortable and mobile. We also have a 30' x 35' front yard that is a courtyard garden with raised beds, between the 2 garages. In designed areas we have a cut flower garden, vegetable garden, herb, garden, rose garden, and shade garden. Thoughtful design is key! Go HGTV!!!

  8. sford says:

    I am slowly recovering all my outdoor cushions with marine vinyl so dust rain and bird doo is easy to clean off, plus with heavy ties they don't blow away it has made my life much easier! Now about those pesky bugs? Screens are next on my list! I couldn't bare not to have my outdoor spaces!

  9. wp themes says:

    wow excellent design and great post.

  10. Mishap says:

    Sitting on my deck watching the river go by with my first cup of coffee in the morning is stuff dream homes are made of! Mines just a deck and a 20 year old Rite-Aid fall clearance special set of 2 chairs & a glass top table, but it hasn't rusted yet!

Briana MowreyBriana is a writer and senior editor for HGTV.com. Her self-described design style is "mid-century modern magpie." She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with her husband, their spoiled dachshund, Chauncey,...


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