My outdoor space with light colored cushions and colorful pillows
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The Ultimate Guide for your Small Outdoor Space

EVERYTHING YOUR PATIO AND OUTDOOR SPACE NEED TO BE COZY AND COOL FOR THE SUMMER

1. SEATING 

I mean, what else would be number one? Standing outside is nice but not very relaxing. Seating is definitely the most important outdoor space staple. In one of my apartments, I had these plastic lime green Adirondack chairs I bought at an Ace Hardware! Ugh. I look back and question where my sense of design was hidden.

As I’ve developed my design sense, I found a beautiful patio set that was $1200 and many that were so much more! That’s honestly crazy and I don’t really believe that good design should be that hard to achieve. So I decided I didn’t want to pay for it and I would rather make it myself, even if it took a ton of elbow grease. I ended up making it a sectional because I didn’t know what size my next outdoor space would be and I liked the flexibility of having 4 separate chairs, 2 love seats, or a sectional!

2. PLANTS 

I lived in Phoenix for 18 years and was AMAZED at how much greenery is in Georgia. I became obsessed. If you are going to be outside on your patio, enjoying nature is a big part of that. Sometimes I grow plants from seeds but honestly, it’s just so much easier to buy some starter plants at Home Depot. Cute planters are always nice but there are some very expensive planters out there. *Here* is a DIY planter I made from 2 planks I found in my basement!

3. RUG/DECK TILES 

This one kind of depends on what you have available. One of my outdoor spaces at a previous rental house consisted of a patch of dirt that we put a ton of sweat equity into to get a nice patio area made up of gravel and paver stones. At the next place we put Ikea deck tiles on dirt (even though I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to… but we like to live on the edge) and now we have a deck with a rug! I like putting some sort of flooring down because what’s homier than being barefoot? I like to just walk directly from inside to outside and be able to be barefoot and cozy at all times.

4. LIGHTS 

When hanging out in your new outdoor space, you’ll often want to move your daytime relaxation into nighttime relaxation. Whether it be string lights or lanterns, mood lighting really sets the scene for entertaining friends or reading a book while drinking wine outdoors. A few years ago, my roommate and I bought 100ft of lights! Honestly, it’s more than we need but, even with a few broken bulbs, it has served us well.

5. FIRE 

What is an outdoor space without SMORES?! They are the most amazing, perfectly balanced dessert. Those who have tried to convince me otherwise have failed. There are definitely some nice fire pits out there but I got mine used from LetGo and picked it up in a Trader Joe’s parking lot. But… like… I suppose a fire could be nice to have on a patio for warmth reasons too, but of course, that is secondary to s’mores.

6. GRILL 

Nothing is better than grilling corn on the cob and burgers on a beautiful day! It took me a few years, but I finally got myself a grill. Now it’s definitely nothing fancy, in fact, I spent $85 on a grill on Amazon only to find the exact grill on some sort of crazy sale for $50 at Target! I kept that $35 and used it for the patio seat cushions. The propane grill came in handy for when it was just me and my roommate but now that we are at Taylor’s house, he’s got his fancy charcoal grill from Home Depot too. (These are not affiliate links)

Taylor LOVES this Weber grill he bought at Home Depot! I personally prefer a gas grill because its easier to use and to clean, but I have to say, food tastes pretty good with that smokey flavor.

7. BUG REPELLENT

Here is the thing: mosquitos love me. They flock to me. I’ll be standing outside during a party of 30 people and be the ONLY one that gets bitten! For me, I think I found the solution! And If it works for me, it may work for you as well! I bought a Thermacell from amazon.com about 2 years ago and honestly, it’s been a game-changer. I’ll pop it outside 20-30 minutes before I plan to be out there and I’m set! I’ve tried candles and tiki torches and deet sprays and for whatever reason, it just wasn’t a good fit.

I also had a friend recently tell me about these mosquito incense sticks (from amazon.com) that you can just put into your planters while you are outside. When I’m extra worried about getting bit, I’ll typically put both outside because why the heck not! I could always use extra protection for mosquitos!

If you don’t want to buy mosquito repellant type sprays and diffusers, there are a ton of mosquito and other bug-repelling plants. I don’t think they work THAT great if I am relying on just plants when I am such a mosquito magnet BUT there are some really pretty plants that may as well assist the other stuff. Here are my favs: Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Marigolds, Basil, and Mint. I love them because they serve multiple purposes, my mint saves me from some mosquitos while also being a great addition for my Mojitos!

8. COZY CUSHIONS

A patio should always be cozy! Sitting on a hard surface can be fine for the short term but when you want to grill out and lounge all day, you may as well settle in and put out the pillows and cushions. I wanted to get just a regular cushion set, but damn they can be expensive! Instead, I settled on getting seat cushions from Ikea, and rather than fancy-back cushions to match, I just grabbed a few throw pillows (also from Ikea). Pro-tip, save on pillows and every time you head out to your patio, grab the decorative couch pillows too.

9. MUSIC

The final touch for your outdoor space will really help you pass the vibe check. Whether it be smooth soul or blasting Top-40, music is the secret sauce to finish off your space. Combined, Taylor and I have 3 JBL speakers that can all magically link up via Bluetooth. Taylor bought a giant one for parties but I’ve found that my JBL Flip and JBL Clip (on amazon.com) work pretty great for being so small. I love them because when we have people over, the music isn’t interrupted as you transition from inside to outside.

In the last 3 years, I have created multiple different arrangements with the same patio essentials. Each time, the space is welcoming and cozy for entertaining or for a chill night at home with my roommate and wine. My current place has a small deck that is, honestly, falling apart. We don’t THINK it’s going to collapse so we will hang out here as long as we can. If you would like to see the before images of the deck, be sure to check it out in my house tour post!

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