This post is sponsored by TIKI Brand. As always, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.
If you’ve lived in or visited Utah during the summer, then you are probably already familiar with just how hot it can get here. Last year in Salt Lake City they recorded 16 days where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees! It’s usually only a few degrees cooler in the mountain valley town I live in than in SLC, so we tend to stay inside during the day to enjoy the A/C. But one of the benefits of our particular location and geography is that the temperatures get nice and cool during the evenings. Our evening routine in the summer is to shut off the A/C, throw open the windows, and head outside!
Before I started sprucing up our backyard a few years ago, we didn’t really have a good space for hanging out outside. We had a few flimsy plastic chairs, a fire ring we made out of rocks, and that’s pretty much it! But we’ve been adding bits and pieces to our backyard for the past few summers, and I think we’ve finally created the outdoor living space I used to dream about. I wanted to share what I’ve learned during this process, so you can create an outdoor “living room” for your own family to spend time in!
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How To Create An Outdoor “Living Room”
Defining The Space
The first step in creating your ideal outdoor living space is to define the space itself. This will depend largely on where the shady areas in your backyard are located, like under a big tree or an awning. You can also put in a shade feature to define your space, like a pergola or a big umbrella. (We just installed a new pergola in our backyard a couple of weeks ago, and I think I’m in love!)
Another easy way to define your space visually is to lay down a large area rug. You can find outdoor rugs online, at stores like Walmart or Target, or at home improvement stores. A nice outdoor rug helps to designate the space as being separate from the rest of the yard or patio. It says “This is the place where we hang out!” :-)
After you define your outdoor living space, the next thing to do is fill it with furniture! Outdoor furniture has come a long way in the past couple of decades, and now you can find great weatherproof chairs, sofas, and tables in almost any design you can think of.
Dining sets are probably the most common outdoor furniture option, but it’s certainly not the only option out there! Just last summer we retired our old outdoor dining set and tried out something entirely different – a “conversation set.”
A conversation set is more like a traditional “living room” furniture setup, with sofas and/or chairs surrounding a coffee table. My one worry was that the cushions would get dirty over time, but they are surprisingly easy to clean! It’s nice to be able to lounge around outside and chat without having a big dining table between us. Not to mention how much more comfy it is!
In addition to the big pieces of furniture, like tables and chairs, you may also want to consider adding other furniture items too. We have a couple of ottomans that can either serve as a foot rest, or as additional seating if we have guests. Versatility is a great thing in an outdoor living space!
Okay, here’s where it gets really fun. Once you’ve defined your space and chosen your furniture, you can start considering the “ambiance” of your outdoor living space. In my opinion, the biggest impact you can make on your space in terms of ambiance is with lighting.
I’m a big fan of those bistro-style string lights, so we strung some up above our conversation set last year. Utilizing removable adhesive hooks makes this a cinch to do! This addition inspired my kids to give our outdoor hangout space a name – “Cafe Ambiance.” (True story! We all use the name Cafe Ambiance when we’re talking about the backyard – though I’m still not sure where the cafe part came from…)
Another light source I knew I wanted in my outdoor living space is fire light or candlelight. Summertime and bonfires go hand in hand in my mind, so you can bring the “spirit” of a bonfire into your space by adding candles and torches.
TIKI Brand is a great source for unique firepieces for your backyard. The Clean Burn Tabletop System is fantastic because the firepieces use Clean Burn Torch Fuel that’s 85% plant-based, and burns cleaner than traditional fuels. Not only does the fuel give off less smoke, but it also produces a brighter flame that gives off more light.
TIKI Brand offers a LOT of options for their Clean Burn Firepieces! There are more than 15 styles of Clean Burn Tabletop Firepieces to choose from (like a gorgeous blue glass torch, or a sleek torch with a trendy copper accent).
We have a few standard torches around Cafe Ambiance, but I also added a few TIKI Brand Clean Burn Tabletop Firepieces to our space. The burner system in these pieces is reusable/refillable, and every fill provides up to 3 hours of burn time, which is perfect for a long relaxing evening outside. Using the Clean Burn Torch Fuel, these gorgeous firepieces provide flickering light and ambiance to our outdoor space without creating a smoky mess. You can find TIKI Brand products at most big box retailers, or online. Even better, TIKI Brand currently has a promo running for $5 off the Clean Burn system!
So you’ve defined your space, arranged your furniture, and added your lighting and firepieces. The last step in creating your dream outdoor living space is adding elements of comfort. Pillows, blankets, and cushions are the little things that help elevate a standard patio into an outdoor destination that people won’t want to leave!
We keep a big storage bin out in the backyard to store our pillows and blankets in, since they aren’t weatherproof like the sofa cushions are. We just pull them out when we come outside, and throw them back in the bin whenever there is the threat of inclement weather. Easy!
Beyond pillows and blankets, there are other comfort elements you can consider too, like temperature control and insect control. Later in the summer, the cool nights start to become a bit chilly, so we found a fairly inexpensive patio heater online. We got a lot of use out of it last year, and it kept Cafe Ambiance up and running well into September!
Of course, not everyone runs into the issue of needing to be warmer during the summer! If your outdoor living space is in need of ways to cool down, you could look online for a fan or some water misters to help keep things cool.
If bugs are, well, bugging you during your evenings outside, you have a few different insect control options to explore. You can light up some citronella candles to help keep the bugs at bay, or you could look into bug zappers. There are handheld bug zappers that are more portable, or there are bug zapper lamps that you can set up more permanently.
Following these simple steps, you can create a relaxing and fun outdoor “living room” that may end up being more popular than your real living room!