7 Ways to Upgrade Your Outdoor Living Space to Accommodate All Seasons

If year-round outdoor living is your ideal, try these expert tips to upgrade your yard, patio, balcony, or porch.

Outdoor living spaces aren’t meant to be used only a few months out of the year. It is easy to enjoy the cool summer nights and cozy up around a fire pit during the winter when you design your outdoor living space to be functional for all 12 months. Switch to waterproof patio furniture or add overhead coverage to make it possible to enjoy your deck, patio, or porch as an extension of your home’s indoor living area. Experts advise these seven ways to revamp your outdoor space to maximize year-round enjoyment. 

outdoorpatio with director chairs and benches around dining table; seating area with rectangular stone firepit and built-in bench seating in front of raised hot tub.

Dominique Vorillon

1. Improve Lighting

Add lighting to an exterior living space to make it stylish and accessible all year. Leslie Adkins, vice president of marketing and ESG development for Trex, says lighting can be an affordable way to transform the look and feel of an outdoor space. Candles and string lights, for example, add ambience that can help to extend the time people want to spend outdoors. For even greater impact, add deck lighting to improve sophistication and safety.

2. Install Fire Features

Whether electric, gas, or wood-burning, a fire pit or fire feature adds warmth to any yard. “A fireplace can act as the centerpiece of your outdoor space and can add that needed touch of warmth," says Amanda Cimaglia, vice president of ESG and corporate affairs at the AZEK Company. They can also allow you to enjoy your outdoor space no matter the season. Depending on your budget and available space, try a portable fire pit, heat lamps, or an outdoor fireplace. Decide if you want added heat, a visual feature, or the option to toast marshmallows—or all of the above.

3. Upgrade a Deck

Adding or expanding a deck is not just an aesthetic upgrade; it also makes an outdoor area usable throughout every season. Updating or building a deck using composite materials creates an outdoor space that is low-maintenance, durable, eco-friendly, and adds value to a home.

“One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the seamless blending of home and nature,” says Adkins. Composite decking delivers elevated looks, with some products engineered with heat-mitigating technology to reflect the sun and keep boards cool while resisting fading, scratching, or mold. Opt for weather-resistant, low-maintenance, and durable materials for hassle-free outdoor living throughout the year.

4. Lay Down a Rug

An outdoor rug is a simple addition that can provide an insulating layer, preventing heat loss from the ground to make balconies, pergolas, and patios warmer and cozier. In the warmer months, an outdoor rug reduces direct sun exposure that heats the ground surface underfoot. Try a variety of colors designed for the decor of each season so that the look feels customized each time friends and family visit the space. 

5. Select Weatherproof Furniture

Outdoor furnishings are key to optimizing exterior comfort. Incorporate comfortable weatherproof furniture for year-round use. Materials like all-weather wicker or aluminum can withstand rain, snow, and sunlight. Paired with plush outdoor cushions, pillows, and blankets, these pieces offer comfort and relaxation during warm summer days or chilly fall evenings. 

Be sure to incorporate storage into your deck, garage, or shed so that you can place furniture in a well-covered and ventilated place during extreme weather, like high winds and strong rains. For moderate weather shifts, use covers to ward off bird droppings and honeydew from trees.

6. Plan for Privacy

For shade and privacy, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of umbrellas and pergolas, Cimaglia says. Large umbrellas with adjustable stands provide privacy and sun protection. For a nature-friendly option, hedges or greenery around the perimeter of a fence line create an attractive and natural privacy screen. Vertical gardens, lattice vines, and bamboo shoots are other options to consider, especially in urban spaces with limited square footage and a more industrial flair.

7. Create an Outdoor Kitchen

From small grilling spaces to fully-equipped cooking stations, meals al fresco can increase quality of life. “We are seeing homeowners invest more in their kitchens than ever before, both indoors and out,” Adkins says. 

Poolside bars, pizza ovens, barrel smokers, and refrigerated storage can create functional spaces worth heading outdoors for. These unique food features might not make much sense inside the house, but they can provide hours of memory-making for loved ones willing to brave the elements. Add outdoor dining space with a pop of color and texture to cap off the cooking experience with a homemade eatery that’s picture-perfect.

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