NEW YORK – Everyone dreams of escaping to a picturesque retreat to enjoy the outdoors, but few consider creating a relaxing space in their backyards.

We have tips and ideas to help you revamp your outdoor space and turn it into a personalized oasis. These ideas can work in various outdoor spaces, such as porches, patios, terraces, backyards, gardens, front yards, and more.

Some of these changes are tiny, while others involve more time and effort. However, all of them will make your space cozier, allowing you to relax and feel right at home. These ideas aim to create a space where you and your guests can feel peaceful and content.

Identify aesthetic inspiration

One of our top tips for making your backyard a comfy retreat is to settle on an aesthetic or theme. Do you want a tiki bar? Or a whimsical secret garden? Settle on your inspiration and let that drive your decisions.

Sticking to a theme or visual inspiration helps you curate a cohesive space that feels thoughtful and welcoming. Pairing tiki torches with Victorian furniture and modern minimalist decor will look awkward. Having clear visuals can help you avoid clashing items and ideas.

Curate a color scheme

A distinct color scheme is a brilliant way to make your outdoor space cozier. Outdoor spaces sometimes feel too open or random, but a clear one can reign in the hecticness for a comforting and focused atmosphere.

We love a bright and cheerful scheme, but if your goal is an inviting and cozy space, we recommend selecting warm colors. Red, orange, yellow, brown, and pink are ideal — you can never go wrong with a sunset-inspired palette.

Seating, seating, seating

How on earth could your space be cozy if there is nowhere to sit? Make comfortable and attractive seating a top priority when curating your outdoor area. Excluding absurd excess, you really can’t have too many seats.

The marvelous options include couches, rockers, chairs, benches, and even ottomans. Don’t settle for furniture that just looks good; we want to make sure every seat in the house (or outside the house, in this case) is supremely comfy and plush.

We highly recommend weatherproof and waterproof cushions that can better withstand the elements.

Cozy materials all around

To curate a “cozy” vibe, you need as many soft materials as possible. As mentioned, all your seating should be well-cushioned, but you also want to incorporate other cozy and inviting materials.

Add throw pillows, fuzzy blankets, and fluffy rugs to surround yourself with softness. This will create a cushy environment that tempts everyone to sit and sink into the coziness. Fabrics like wool, velvet, sherpa, cotton, and cashmere are all spectacular choices.

Bring the heat (and fire)

Adding a fire element is a surefire way to make your outdoor space cozy and inviting. Fire features are simultaneously sophisticated and laidback, bringing warmth to your backyard while keeping it classy.

Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, fire bowls, fire tables, and brick ovens are a few options. These elements make your space feel rustic yet polished while offering a functional focal point for everyone to gather around.

The garden of games

If you want to prioritize spending time with loved ones and making memories, we recommend setting up plenty of games in your outdoor space. When you have fun activities ready to go, inviting people over and having a playful day outside is easy.

Some of our favorite lawn games include cornhole, horseshoes, giant Jenga, darts, ring toss, and badminton. These are just a few options; there are endless garden games to choose from. These games will create a convivial and intimate vibe.

A beautiful tablescape

Outdoor areas can be excellent for dinner parties. Those who love to feed friends and family need a warm and inviting tablescape that welcomes guests. Of course, you need an outdoor dining table, so get that first.

A lovely tablescape can feature flowers, greenery, jewels, stones, and other organic materials. Candles, vases, tablecloths, and placemats are thoughtful finishing touches. The table shouldn’t be busy and cluttered, but it shouldn’t be bare either.

Hide behind fences and curtains

The key to achieving an intimate outdoor vibe is privacy, which can be hard in certain houses. If your neighbors have a casual view of your backyard or everyone in the neighborhood can see you on your porch when they walk by, you may want to make some changes.

Installing a fence is probably the best way to enhance privacy, but it can be expensive. Curtains, drapes, and dividers are more affordable and offer adequate privacy.

Let the plants thrive

Flourishing green plants and robust trees reaching for the sky are inherently cozy elements. If you want that laidback, homey vibe, we recommend letting your plants thrive and grow as much as possible, including your grass. A clean-cut lawn can be nice, but it can also feel cold rather than natural.

Either nourish the plants already there or consider planting flower bulbs, saplings, bushes, and other plants to bring your space to life. The right plants, such as ivy or a willow tree, can also tackle your privacy problem, creating a more secluded and secret feel.

Soothing trickles of water

Water can be just as welcoming and relaxing as fire. Our favorite outdoor water features include fountains, ponds, bubblers, pools, bird baths, and waterfalls. Depending on the features you choose, they can be lively or calm.

To create a cozy space, we recommend more subtle and slow water features. Avoid powerful fountains. Instead, opt for gently trickling waterfalls or leisurely streams that can lull you into a peaceful state.

Somewhere to take a dip

You can take subtle water features to the next level by adding water you can swim or relax in. Since we want a cozy atmosphere, a hot tub is likely the best choice. Hot tubs are warm and inviting, offering a spa-like feel.

Pools can be lovely, but we suggest avoiding energetic pools with diving boards, slides, and bright tiles. These features aren’t particularly warm. Consider a natural saltwater pool or natural stone design.

Hobby corners

It’s easy to spend more time outside when your favorite things are there. You can create little craft corners in your outdoor space with everything you need to enjoy one of your hobbies. For example, you might have a knitting corner with a rocking chair or a painting corner with a small easel.

Use weatherproof or waterproof cabinets with storage bins to create these areas. Other hobbies that work for outdoor spaces include reading, writing, crocheting, pottery, chess, whittling, and many more. These corners will make your outdoor area the place you want to be.

Create a campsite

What’s cozier than sleeping under the stars and waking up with the sunrise? Transform your backyard into a homey campsite with all the essentials. Set up a cute camping tent with a comfy interior, add a small firepit, and skewer some marshmallows on a stick.

You can camp outside in this area every so often, or you can use the camping idea as your aesthetic inspiration. This idea can connect you to nature and make your outdoor area feel even homier than your actual house.

Make it movie time

Host snuggly movie nights in your outdoor space with a DIY cinema. This idea has a similar vibe to a drive-in movie or film showing in a public park, except it’s in your private backyard. All you need is a projector, a white sheet, and an extension cord or two.

Comfy seating is necessary for a mini outdoor cinema, so don’t be shy with the cushions, pillows, and blankets. Host a movie night every week, or spontaneously pop in your favorite film and settle down in the fresh nighttime air.

Places to hang

Something about being suspended in the air, with your feet floating off the ground, is wonderfully cozy. Add hanging furniture and items, such as hammocks, hanging chairs, swings, hanging plants, and wind chimes.

These pieces offer a whimsical and enchanting aesthetic, making the space comfy but also sweet and elegant. You can even focus on this as the theme of your space, curating an uplifting environment that hovers above the ground.

Prep the grill

Preparing your grill is one of the easiest ways to make your outdoor space cozy and summer-ready. A grill can draw people outside, where everyone can relax in the outdoor air and spend time with one another, but your barbeque equipment needs to be clean and functional before you can start feeding others.

Get everything you need for your grill to be ready, whether charcoal, lighter fluid, propane, new cooking utensils, or something else. Make sure the grill is in a convenient, safe spot, and keep it clean. Having it ready at all times will encourage you to use it more and have easygoing cook out sessions.

Hit the lights

Lights are an important feature when designing any space. They substantially impact the atmosphere and can change the aesthetic in an instant. Warm lighting is the answer for an intimate outdoor space.

Look for warm, ambient lighting that offers a soft glow rather than a harsh spotlight. Avoid fluorescent and white bulbs, as these are aggressive and bright. Candles, torches, fairy lights, and other subtle styles are ideal.

Space to see the stars

We love a quaint dining area or plush spot to chat around a fire. However, a space designated for laying on your back and staring at the stars is magical. Create a comfy place where people can lie down and look up, watching the stars twinkle.

Set up lounge chairs, soft, thick blankets, supple beach towels, or an outdoor daybed. Keep a camera, drawing paper, or even a telescope nearby to take this area to the next level.

Decorate thoughtfully

When curating your beautiful outdoor space, it’s easy to get lost in the big elements, like furniture and landscaping. The small details are just as important, so add finishing touches to make your outdoor area unique and homey.

Outdoor decor options include baskets, crates, light globes, small statues, pots, vases, wall hangings, birdhouses, flags, rugs, and more. When choosing the decor, consider your inspiration and color scheme. Don’t just add whatever you have lying around; choose every piece carefully.

Squash the bugs

Your outdoor area can’t be inviting and cozy if swarms of bugs descend every time you sit down. Take measures to keep the bugs away from your summer sanctuary so you and your guests can enjoy the space.

Anti-bug nets, candles, lights, sprays, traps, ultrasonic repellers, and other products are effective. We recommend taking preventative measures to stop the bugs before they arrive.

Stay in the kitchen

Many people find their kitchen the coziest place in their house; after all, it is the heart of every home. With a proper outdoor kitchen, you can bring the heart of your home outside into the fresh air.

This idea is a little more intensive, as installing a complete outdoor kitchen takes time, effort, and money. We promise it’s worth it. If you can’t swing a full kitchen, you can simplify by creating a laidback bar area.

Shaded from the sun

While we adore a day in the sun, we also need shade to be comfortable. If your outdoor area is constantly in the sun, consider adding features that create shaded spots.

Use tents, awnings, umbrellas, pergolas, and other items that will block the sun to keep people cool. These shady areas allow you to be outside, making it easier to find optimal comfort.

Stocked for summer

This idea might not be as exciting as others mentioned, but convenience is important for comfort. Keep a closet outside with everything you might need to prevent frustrating and frequent trips inside the house.

Outdoor storage should contain towels, sunscreen, toys, water toys, outdoor dinnerware, grilling tools, and bug spray. Whatever items you tend to use while in your outdoor area should be readily available.

Moody music

Listening to the birds chirp and bees buzz in your outdoor space is sublime, but sometimes you need some tunes. Adding a speaker to the space allows you to play your own music and truly set the mood.

You can buy a small portable speaker or go all out and install a surround-sound speaker system. Create a cozy outdoor playlist that matches the vibe you want to create. Light instrumental or soft music is ideal for a homey atmosphere.

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