by Staff Writer
Create an oasis in your backyard by turning your garden and patio into an outdoor living room. Expand the functional area of your home and take advantage of the space you have in your yard. Creating an outdoor living room is easy when you follow these steps.
Lay down an outdoor rug. An outdoor rug helps define the space as a room and not just a collection of patio furniture. Center an all-weather rug on your patio or add it to one side of your porch where there is enough room to group your furniture. Choose a color and design that coordinates with the furnishings. Traditional furniture works well with floral designs, while modern furniture looks best with stripes or solid colors.
Add seating. Patio seating sets typically come with a sofa, a table and one or two chairs. This grouping makes it easy to create a conversation area. Simply arrange the seating so people face each other. You can also create your own patio set; try mixing a few chairs with a chaise lounge, with the chaise turned like a bench.
Create walls. Just as indoor rooms have walls, so should an outdoor room. Your outdoor walls won't be made of drywall, though. You are creating privacy and defining the room. One wall may be the side of your house or garage; hang a wall-mounted fountain or a metal wall sculpture there for decoration. Plants work well as walls, especially when they are in large planters. You can also create the feeling of walls just by placing things in the "corners" of your outdoor living room. A decorative screen in a corner gives the hint at a wall, as does a decorative fireplace.
Light it up. When using the room at night, you will want to be able to see. Solar-powered accent lights are easy to install along the edge of a patio and don't require wiring. Metal torches stand up well to the elements and set a romantic mood with their flickering light. Paper lanterns can be hung from large tree branches or a sturdy awning. Wall-mounted lights provide brighter lighting than torches, which is useful if you prefer to read outside at night.
Add the ceiling. Your outdoor ceiling could be the branches of a large tree. If you don't have a tree, you could add a sail shade to create the cozy, private feeling you are looking for. Even a large umbrella will give you the shade and space-definition you are looking for.
Finish the room with a few tables. End tables and coffee tables help make the space more practical as a living area. You don't want to have to set your drink or laptop on the ground every time you get up. A side table and a coffee table should be adequate for most people, but if you plan to entertain lots of guests, you might want to have an additional side table or a bistro set.