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10 Innovative Outdoor Patio Design Ideas to Use This Summer

Summer nights with friends under twinkling lights, evening barbecues, lazy afternoons reading on a swing—designing an outdoor patio space to make these dreams a reality is easier than you think. Creating a gathering place for friends and family is a simple way to make your home more inviting, and it gives you an excuse to spend more time outside, something we can all use. Here are 10 innovative ideas to make your outdoor living space as inviting, practical, and versatile as possible for the warm-weather season.

1. Build A Conversation Area

Every patio needs a central location for casual conversation, where you can sip cold drinks and enjoy each other’s company. Choose a set that faces inwards, creating a nook perfect for conversing over a glass of wine on a summer evening. This sectional sofa is a good place to start, and it can be combined with other sectionals to enclose the space.

2. Scatter a Variety of Umbrellas for Shade

Keep your patio appealing no matter where the sun is in the sky. Strategically placed umbrellas will create an automatic gathering space and can be adjusted to provide shade depending on where the sun is hitting hardest. Go for a standard size for more maneuverability, or opt for a double-sided patio umbrella for twice the coverage.

3. Have Different Types of Seating

A variety of seating options on a patio is always a good idea, allowing you to move things around to adjust to the number of people. Joel Clements

Bar stools, rocking chairs, reclining lounge chairs, garden stools, or even folding chairs that are easily moved around are all good options to mix and match on your patio. This will not only make the space more interesting, but the chairs will provide a flexible way to adjust the seating depending on how many people are visiting.

4. Accent with Colorful Pillows and Outdoor Rugs

Even if the overall aesthetic of your patio space is clean and streamlined, a pop of color never hurts. Current trends are leaning towards fun designs that complement each other without needing to be a complete matching set. Think bright colors, engaging patterns, and just enough contrast to keep it interesting.

5. Create a Cozy Spot for Eating

Build out a section with a table and chairs where the whole family (or a group of friends) can enjoy a meal together in a cozy setting. This set seats four people and has a low-slung table that will work perfectly for casual or fancier gatherings.

6. Have Fun with Swings or Other Interesting Seating

Having at least one piece of fun furniture for napping, relaxing, or reading will kick your patio up a notch. Beware though: this will likely become the favorite seating option in your outdoor area, and competition for the swing might get fierce.

7. Start with a Centerpiece and Build from There

Think of starting with a fire pit, floral arrangement, tall bar, or a grill—the options for a patio centerpiece can be customized based on what you predict the primary type of entertainment will be for you. Building your design, coverage, and seating options from this central point will provide an easy place to start from, and it will help create a cohesive space.

8. Incorporate Plants, Flowers, or Herb Garden

Plants make a great addition to any patio. Create an herb garden to have fresh ingredients ready for your next barbecue. Tomas Anton Escobar

Greenery will add a pop of life and color to your patio setup. Fringing your patio with herb or flower boxes is simple, and can be customized with planters and designs that match the overall vibe of the patio. Depending on your location, vegetables can even thrive in planter boxes. Fresh-picked veggies for your al fresco dining? Doesn’t get much better than that.

9. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting

It’s hard to go wrong with outdoor lighting. String lights, fairy lights, colorful hanging paper lanterns…it’s all fair game. Winding strands of lights around planter boxes, over the top of swings or hammocks, or even running up umbrella poles will add ambiance and necessary light for after-dark outdoor gatherings.

10. Consider a Pergola or Another Decorative Form of Shade

There are plenty of options out there for shade, including sunshades, pergolas, and gazebo-style canopies. These not only provide shade but a focal point and gathering space for the patio setup.

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