As Minnesotans, we cherish the outdoors. No matter the season, we’re always looking for ways to get back outside to enjoy the fresh air and beauty of northern nature.
That being said, once those cold fall and winter months start rolling in it becomes more and more difficult to find comfort while gathering outside. You want to relax, eat, and socialize with friends or family outdoors. What you need is an outdoor living room that works all year round.
While you could spend your time and money planning extravagant vacations or getaways, you could also just create the getaway yourself. With the right outdoor living room ideas in the palm of your hand, you can create a room without walls.
There are a ton of ways to achieve your ideal outdoor living space. Depending on what you’re going for, your solution may look a bit different than your neighbor’s. Creating a liveable outdoor space takes planning. The more liveable you want your outdoor area to be, the more preparation you’re going to have to do.
First Things First
Before you go out and start buying everything you saw on Better Homes and Gardens — you need to determine the functionality of your space. Like we said, every outdoor living area will look a bit different, and that’s for a reason.
Everyone doesn’t necessarily want or need a fully furnished space or a place to cook and eat. Not everyone is looking to completely transform their yard. So, before you go on a spending binge, you need to determine exactly what you’re looking to achieve with your space.
Here are a few outdoor living ideas, and we’ll go into more detail with these and a few others later on.
- Outdoor kitchens and dining spaces
- Outdoor bars
- Nooks for conversations
Regardless of what you are looking to accomplish, you are essentially extending your home into the outdoors. Properly designing this liveable space should create a subtle, natural flow from the interior of your home to a living room without borders.
You also need to be mindful of your current landscape. This is something you need to pay close attention to during the planning phase. However, don’t let this limit or stifle your aspirations, a lot can be done with a little.
Whether you’re starting with a blank slate or making additions to your current landscape, adding an outdoor living area can improve your home’s appeal and benefit you as a whole. In fact, being outside will make you happier and feel more restored.
So let’s get to it. Here are some great outdoor living space ideas you can use to improve your home, your health, and your happiness.
How You Can Create An Outdoor Living Space
We’re starting out small with nooks. These are a great option because they can be created in almost any yard, regardless of the size.
Nooks provide a great environment for small conversational gatherings, a place to sip your coffee and relax. Basically, it’s your own little outdoor living oasis.
So what exactly can you do to create the ideal nook? Well, that depends on how developed you want your nook space to be. You can add features such as:
- Custom furniture
- Unique lighting
- Ornamental plants and flowers (or even a small garden)
- Decor features like statues or fountains
This is a place to converse while enjoying the benefits of being outdoors. Nooks are great because they are versatile and able to be built on most properties.
A Tranquil Place
Serenity spaces are another option for an accessible outdoor living area for many property types. These are perfect for those in search of introspection and a peaceful place to be outdoors. Whether you’re meditating, reading, or just looking for your connection to the natural world — shaded spaces like these are perfect.
While nooks can technically serve as a tranquil area, the primary function of a nook is for socialization. A serenity space is for you and nature. The use of arbors, trellises, and pergolas for a bit of shade makes these areas comfortable and peaceful spaces to relax.
Before you dive headfirst into building an entire kitchen and dining area outside, you may want to consider an outdoor bar. It’s a great middle ground for those that are stuck between a few different options.
The reason we love outdoor bars so much is because they can be as simple or complex as you want. If you’re looking for a place to entertain and enjoy some beverages or food with friends and family, you can go with just a table-top bar setup.
Maybe you want something a bit more functional and fully fleshed out. You can certainly transform your outdoor bar space with a full station with sinks, shelving, water, and possibly even refrigeration.
Outdoor bars are a bit of a status symbol. They definitely exude success. They also achieve what they are meant to do. Bring people together while being outside.
Outdoor Dining Area
There’s something special about eating outside. Whether it be a traditional picnic or finding a great restaurant with a patio, it’s like a mini vacation whenever it happens. Having a place to dine while enjoying fresh air at your own home is high up on the list of the ultimate achievements for any homeowner.
If having a dining area outside is high on the list for homeowners, having an outdoor kitchen to complete the ensemble might just take the cake. For the past decade or so, outdoor kitchens have continued to become increasingly popular landscape designs even in climates that we have in the Midwest.
This is the ultimate transformation from the classic grill and patio set up to fully functional food preparation and cooking area. There are a couple of avenues you can take if you’re looking to install an outdoor kitchen.
You can go the simple route and get the basics. Counter surrounds for your grill, a small dining area, and maybe even some shade for the chef.
Or you can go all out. We’re talking an almost mirror image of the functionalities involved with your indoor kitchen. That means you’ll have access to water, electric, gas, and lighting. You can even install additional features like certain types of stoves or ovens. Your outdoor kitchen can be whatever you want it to be.
Pair this with a beautiful outdoor dining area and you have the perfect place to entertain guests outside.
Getting Your Outdoor Space Just Right
When designing an outdoor living space there are a lot of small considerations you should make to get the most out of your area.
Because this type of living space is an extension of your home without walls, you still need to establish a sense of enclosure, at least to some degree. This can be done in a variety of ways. The best way to do this is by establishing flows and borders with decor or natural landscaping. Shrubs or trees provide great natural fencing and walkways establish traffic patterns.
Just like with the interior of your home, pathways or walkways are necessary for creating a liveable outdoor living room. Couple these walkways with the charm and wonder of outdoor space and you can create a sense of exploration and a charming appeal.
Fire sources also establish a gathering place. Whether this is a fire pit or a fully functional outdoor fireplace — this addition will pull the weight of the space toward a designated area. Fire pits and fireplaces are almost a necessity for outdoor living spaces in Minnesota. If you want to be able to utilize your area all year long, these additions can help keep you warm and cozy while enjoying the outdoors. There are actually way more fire options than you probably realize.
Built-in Stone Fireplaces look gorgeous and completely elevate the look and feel of your outdoor space. These fireplaces are versatile and can be installed a number of ways. They can be placed right against the side of the house, built into garden walls or even kitchen areas.
Fire tables are a unique spin on the traditional fire pit. There are a bunch of different styles and ways to implement this amazing fire feature. These come in a wide variety of heights and style such as bars, coffee tables, and even dining tables to bring a new twist to your living area.
Campfire-style features are the perfect Minnesotan style fire feature for your living area. No need to load up the camper and head up north, you can bring the campfire right to your backyard. Complete with cooking grates or features to bring some additional functionality to your fire feature.
Pizza ovens bring the taste home. You can get that authentic brick oven pizza in the comfort of your own backyard with a natural stone pizza oven that will really make your outdoor living stand out.
Free-standing fire pits are an affordable and portable fire feature that can easily be repositioned around your yard as needed. These are great for smaller properties where a more complex fire feature may not be as practical.
Custom designed fire features give you a one-of-a-kind design that is nearly limitless. Raised, sunken, different shapes or styles — you name it. Getting a custom design that works just right for your property takes a professional touch and ingenuity, something we have in droves here at ALD.
Another way to establish a focal point is to add a piece of decor or furniture that establishes itself as the point of interest. This will help tremendously when trying to fill in the blanks with additional seating, plantings, or other outdoor living accessories. Take a trip to the antique shop or flea market and see if anything catches your eye. Some of the best yard decors out there are found in the strangest places, so keep your eyes peeled!
Fountains or different types of waterscapes can also create a focal point for your living space. Ponds, bubbling boulders, or even waterfalls can breathe life into your property.
It may seem like an oxymoron, but when you’re creating a living space outdoors, you’re typically dealing with less space. That means that your furnishings or equipment should be dynamic. What do we mean? Well, if you’re taking up space with a bench, find one that also doubles as a storage unit. Or, you can even find patio tables with built-in coolers. Any way you can make your furniture work in more than one way will allow you to do more with less, and transform your outdoor living area.
Our last tip for getting your space just right is to use a bit of creativity and strategy to make certain areas more private. If you’re OK with having the kitchen more out in the open but you’d like the dining area to be a bit more secluded, try using shrubs or potted plants to help shield the view. Arranging these is a bit of an art and a science, so play around with arrangements until you get it just right.
Create Your Oasis
There are so many great ideas for creating the perfect outdoor living area just for you, all it takes is the right accessories and mindset to get it done. You don’t need to travel to find a tranquil place to enjoy nature. Create your own oasis on your property for you to enjoy all year round.