An outdoor living room helps make the most of the season.
The porch is the setting for so many prized moments: Sipping coffee quietly while the dew still clings to the grass, reading in the shade on lazy afternoons, and celebrating with café lights twinkling overhead, ice cubes clinking in a cocktail glass, and the cicadas buzzing as the sun sets. Properly appointed, the porch becomes an outdoor living room when the weather’s nice. Here’s how to make the most of yours according to some of our favorites designers:
“In my clients’ living room in La Quinta, California we used the Dash & Albert Cocchi woven rug because it looks similar to a seagrass rug, but has a lovely, soft texture, which was perfect for this room that opens up onto the poolside patio when the wall of sliding doors is opened. For porches, I love the indoor/outdoor rugs from Dash & Albert. When I’m designing an outdoor space, I also try to make sure that I don’t buy all of the pieces of furniture from the same collection, just the way I would with an interior living area. This keeps things from looking too overly ‘decorated.’”
— Interior designer Anna Hackathorn
“I try to make outdoor living spaces feel as much like inside rooms as possible by incorporating the same elements that I would use when designing interiors. Think comfortable seating, designer fabrics, and a mixture of textures. In this space, I used the Zhara Stripe rug in ivory so that it would provide texture and a neutral backdrop to the space, and allow the bold palm leaf fabric on the furniture to stand out.”
— Lauren Leonard, principal of Lauren Leonard Interiors
“Nothing says summer more than a porch swing, and ours might be my most favorite spot to curl up with a good book and while away a few hours. Our swing was designed to fit the scale of our porch and to complement the exterior of the house. I layered plenty of outdoor pillows on the outdoor fabric-covered mattress for optimal comfort. All the stripes and patterns mix together thanks to the ongoing repetition of color. Throw in an outdoor rug underneath to ground the space and add a smattering of outdoor lights to set the mood.”
— Rachel Shingleton, founder of Pencil Shavings Studio
For all of Rachel Shingleton’s decorating advice, read her House Rules.
“This deck has an incredible view, so the furniture layout was all about maximizing the vistas while making the space comfortable. The two big striped poufs can function as comfortable seats, something to put your feet on, or with a tray on top, occasional tables. The most interesting spaces, including outdoor “rooms,” mix high, low, and vintage. Here, designer items, like the Annie Selke rug and poufs help elevate the look of the vintage yellow chairs and inexpensive side tables.”
— Jill Sorensen, founder of Jill Sorensen Lifestyle
“I like to go big with an outdoor rug, like one of the all-weather ones from Dash & Albert. I try to use a rug as large as the deck or outdoor hardscape will support.”
— Dana Small, designer and owner of Matilda’s in Stuart, Florida
“I think the extra comfort and softness of using outdoor rugs and pillows really pulls outdoor rooms together. This outdoor living room isn’t loud and colorful. Instead, it uses different textures to tell a strong story. I used Annie Selke rugs and textiles because I love their durability. I know that’s not a sexy word, but, in busy homes, you know, there’s traffic! The way she balances beauty and utilitarian capabilities is really quite amazing.”
— Michelle Boudreau, Michelle Boudreau Design
For all of Michelle Boudreau’s decorating advice, read her House Rules.
“Indoor/outdoor rugs and cushions are a fantastic way to style a porch like an indoor room in a low-maintenance way. When it comes to style, I try to choose small, tonal patterns for rugs and quiet colors for furniture to keep the focus on the view and not on the furnishings!”
— Stephanie Jarvis, founder of Stephanie Jarvis Inc.
“With 4 kids, and a dog, we keep the mess outside by doing family style dinners on our outdoor table and eat dessert – like s’mores – around the fire.”
— Rebekah Higgs, DIY Mom
For all of Rebekah Higgs’s decorating advice, read her House Rules.
“My preferred aesthetic is more of a neutral palette, but I like to make it more interesting by adding in textures and patterns—both indoors and out. In this covered patio space, the grounding force and jumping off point for the design was the Diamond Indoor/Outdoor rug in the graphite and ivory color. Plus, I love knowing that the rug can be hosed down, if needed, so I never want to be worried about all that goes with actually “living” in an outdoor space.”
— Melissa Holt, founder of Cabana Rehab Interiors
“For this project, the clients in New York City wanted this space to feel like an extra room. Rooftop spaces can be tricky to make cozy because they feel so exposed. In this dining area, we created the feeling of a room with the shrubs in raised planters, an umbrella overhead, and an indoor/outdoor rug underfoot. I also like to stick to a tight palette, like the gray and white here, to define the ‘room.’”
— Raychel Wade, principal of Raychel Wade Design
“The key to making an outdoor space feel cozy and inviting is comfortable furniture paired with outdoor-appropriate textiles. An outdoor area rug feels amazing underfoot and grounds the space, while outdoor cushions and throws bring that cozy interior feeling outside. I’m also a big fan of citronella candles, soft outdoor lighting, and string lights for added summer ambiance.”
— Sarah Gibson, founder of Room for Tuesday
“When designing a cozy outdoor space, fabric is a must! It adds so much comfort and charm. I love Annie Selke’s outdoor rugs and pillows because they add that softness and can take the abuse of outdoor living—I simply hose them off and they look brand new! Here I layered two rugs (the Samode and the Beckham, both in light blue) to add multiple layers of patterns. The pillows soften up the porch swing for lazy afternoon naps.”
— Wendy Durnwald of @lifeontheshadygrove
“Outdoor living spaces should be equally as inviting as the interiors. It’s important to plan them just as thoroughly for function and comfort because we use them the same way.”
— Bunny Williams, Bunny Williams Interior Design
See all of the rugs Bunny Williams designed for Dash & Albert here.
Photo: Brittany Ambridge
“Don’t be scared to do something bold. Pick what vibe you want and then extrapolate on that. In the end, it’s all fantasy related, so just think of what your favorite surroundings are.” — Eddie Lee, Eddie Lee Inc
For more inspiration, see: