Constructing an outdoor living space used to mean just buying an outdoor living room set (and a run-of-the-mill plastic playground set, if you have younger children in your family) from a home improvement store and installing it in your backyard, before calling it a day.
Today, however, having an outdoor living space—especially one that exudes a coastal outdoor living feel—isn’t just about having a couple of lawn chairs, a table, and a barbecue grill in your backyard. Instead, it’s about creating an outdoor space that reflects your lifestyle, allows you to connect with nature, extends your living options beyond your interiors, and enhances your whole living experience.
Whether you’re planning to give your existing outdoor space a facelift or just planning to have one constructed for the first time, join us as we lay out everything that makes a great outdoor living space. We’ll also explore some outdoor design trends you can take inspiration from.
The Outdoor Living Space
By definition, outdoor living spaces are areas that help bring your home lifestyle outdoors. This includes sundecks, lounge areas, and patios, as well as outdoor dining spaces and kitchens, all of which offer opportunities for relaxation and entertainment, broadening your overall home experience. It can also enhance the price of your home should you ever decide to put it back on the market.
In addition, installing an outdoor living space can help provide children with a safe and secluded play area and a private, nature-filled sanctuary for the rest of the family. This has been shown to help lower stress levels, support the immune system, boost one’s memory and cognitive health, fix sleeping patterns, and improve overall health.
Outdoor Design Trends
As mentioned earlier, outdoor living spaces have gone beyond just adding a simple patio or basic outdoor living room set to a backyard. Here are some of the design trends for outdoor living spaces that you can consider for your Pacific Palisades luxury home:
Install an outdoor kitchen. One trend that’s fast catching on in outdoor living spaces is the introduction of outdoor kitchens and dining spaces. This trend is especially popular among homeowners who love hosting large dinner parties with friends and family, as it effectively doubles the entire food preparation and dining area, as well as providing a great space for entertaining guests.
You can install a wood-fired pizza oven and a full bar complete with working beer taps, both of which are perfect for parties. Add some external speakers and you have all you need for an outdoor party.
Create an intermediary space. Another important trend in outdoor living is the creation of spaces that blur the line between being indoors and out, such as sunrooms, covered porches, and enclosed patios. These spaces are perfect for those who live in sunny places like California, as they allow homeowners to enjoy the outdoors without being subjected to the heat of harsh direct sunlight.
Install an outdoor cinema. There’s something magical about watching a movie outdoors—especially in a place like Pacific Palisades, which enjoys balmy evenings almost all year round. You may already have a very sweet home audio visual set up inside but changing it up now and again is something that will delight the family and friends. You could even gather a few friends over for a BBQ in your new outdoor dining area and watch the game outdoors.
All you’ll need is a retractable screen that you can put away when not in use, a projector that’s rated for outdoor use, and a soundbar to ensure crisp, and loud enough sound when you’re playing your movie. For a more comfortable viewing experience, make sure to get plush outdoor seats, preferably those that come with weather-proof cushions and linings for easy clean-up and maintenance.
Plant a garden. If you have space, you can try your hand at cultivating a garden, one of the biggest outdoor home design trends of recent years.
Unlike the gardens of yesterday, however, modern gardens are less rigid in terms of their structure, with many homeowners opting to have edible gardens and native displays in place of traditional setups. Some even take things one step further by building elegant greenhouses.
Add a workout space. Dedicated workout spaces are another outdoor home design trend that’s becoming more and more popular among homeowners, including those in places like Pacific Palisades.
First popularized during the height of the pandemic, which saw gyms closing indefinitely, dedicated outdoor workout spaces are a good way to keep yourself healthy while adding value to your property at the same time.
Add a firepit. Firepits are another trend that has gained traction among many homeowners within the last few years—even in warm places such as Pacific Palisades. Much like outdoor kitchens and backyard cinemas, firepits offer opportunities for bonding and relaxation, especially in the colder months.
At present, firepits come in many forms including wood-fired ones, electric models, and modular, propane-fuelled ones that transform into coffee tables when not in use.
Generally, traditional wood fire pits are preferred by those who enjoy traditional campfires, whereas propane-fuelled ones tend to be enjoyed by those who have a more streamlined and modern aesthetic. The choice is largely about aesthetics and completely up to you.
Install water features. Some of the most popular water features in recent times include reflective pools, water gardens, ponds, pet fountains, and grottos. In addition to these, many homeowners are also looking to add function as well as aesthetic quality with water features such as jacuzzis, hot tubs, and swimming pools.
What can really enhance coastal outdoor living is an infinity pool, which when done right, can create the image of stretching out your pool out far into the horizon of the ocean.
Designing Outdoor Areas
Use bold and bright colors. It makes sense to choose a palette of whites, grays, beiges, and blacks for a home’s interior, as these colors serve as great canvasses for more expressive decor and furniture. For outdoor living spaces, however, these colors tend to get dirty easily, while black pieces tend to become very hot in direct sunlight.
One way to bring outdoor spaces to life is by using furniture in bold and bright jewel tones like blue, red, yellow, orange, and pink. Not only do these colors complement the greens and browns of the outdoors, but these colors also add a splash of whimsy, playfulness, and excitement to the space.
Not a fan of solid colors? You can introduce splashes of excitement—as well as a sense of luxury and culture—to your outdoor living space by using accessories like brightly patterned hammocks and quilted blankets, as well as hand-painted tiles and furniture that help evoke coastal outdoor living.
Layer your lights. Lights are an integral part of any space. Design trends have moved on from using just one type of light source, such as overhead flood lights. While this type of light does illuminate a place quite well, it tends to look harsh and is very unflattering for the area—not ideal for a space that’s supposed to be used for intimate gatherings with friends and family.
One way to remedy this is to invest in a combination of multiple lighting options such as floor lamps, string lights, lanterns, and table lamps, all of which can help you achieve an inviting and cozy feel for your outdoor space. For a coastal outdoor living feel, try adding windowpane oyster lamps to your space, as these give off a wonderful warm glow.
Use a variety of textures. As with lighting, layering textures is an easy way to add character—as well as lend a sense of completeness—to your outdoor living space.
For instance, you can put two outdoor rugs of differing materials and sizes on top of each other—for example, a smaller sisal rug on top of a Persian-style outdoor carpet—to ground the space. Next, use blankets to give your outdoor couches a more luxurious feel. Pair these blankets with plush throw pillows of a contrasting texture and material (i.e. cable knits and velvet, corduroy and linen, et cetera) to give the entire setup more personality and dimension.
The same principle applies to your tablescapes and decor, with jars of seashells and river stones which pair extremely well with dish gardens or flower arrangements.
Enhance your privacy with a living fence. If you live in a Pacific Palisades luxury home you’re already living in a very exclusive neighborhood, but you can always add extra layers of privacy—especially if you have young children in your family. One way to improve privacy is to have a living or plant fence in your space. Not only will it shield your space from prying eyes, but its organic nature also serves as a soothing sight, not to mention contributing to a healthier environment by capturing carbon dioxide and fostering biodiversity.
Get energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures. When looking for appliances and light fixtures for your outdoor living space, make sure to opt for energy-efficient ones.
One of the smartest and easiest upgrades you can make, investing in energy-efficient appliances and light fixtures in your outdoor living spaces allows you to enhance your living conditions while saving both energy and money at the same time—a win-win situation, for you and the planet.
Stick to natural materials. When curating furniture for your outdoor living space, try to focus on items made from natural materials such as wood, hemp, bamboo, and rattan. Not only do these materials look great and emphasize coastal outdoor living, but they are also sustainable and easy to maintain, which means less hassle and cleaning for you.
In terms of decor and hardscape, try to use a material like stone, as this complements wood beautifully, and holds up to the elements brilliantly.
Choose curved furniture. When furnishing your outdoor living space, try to make use of furniture with curved shapes and silhouettes. Unlike the straight-edged furniture favored in the past which can look blocky and unnatural, curved furniture has a more organic look to it, which blends easily with natural elements like plants and hardscapes.
Use native flora. As mentioned earlier, gardens are the next big thing when it comes to outdoor spaces. If this is a project you want to undertake, make sure to use local or native plants.
Native plants are acclimated to the local California climate, which means they require less water and maintenance compared to more exotic species. Not only that, but these plants have also evolved to coexist with native wildlife, attracting beneficial insects and birds that contribute to a healthy ecosystem.
Consider using yarrow, manzanita, and clarkia, which are considered some of the best-looking native Californian plants.
Optimize your outdoor space’s layout. When designing your outdoor living space, think about how people would move in and out of specific areas, as well as how they can make use of them.
For instance, if you are planning on having an outdoor kitchen, make sure to place the grill and stovetops within reach of the prep area, to ensure a seamless cooking process. Seats and chairs, on the other hand, must be arranged in a way that encourages conversations.
By optimizing floor plans and layouts, you get to ensure that each square foot of your space serves a purpose and that not one inch of it is wasted.
Take your time in curating your space. It can be tempting to get each item for your outdoor living space in one fell swoop. After all, buying everything in one go fast-tracks the entire process of decorating your outdoor living area, allowing homeowners to move on to the next step in the design process.
However, we’d recommend that homeowners take time in curating items for their space, as rushing the entire process can compromise the entire area’s comfort and aesthetics. This will allow you to be more intentional with the items you buy for your space, resulting in an outdoor area that evolves organically and shows the homeowner’s personality.
Work with professionals. Designing and constructing an outdoor living space requires a blend of creativity, technical know-how, and a keen understanding of the local environment. While we absolutely believe that the homeowner’s stamp should be on any creative design for an outdoor space, it doesn’t hurt to bring in professionals like designers and contractors to help with the project. Their expertise can help in creating a durable and well-executed space that maximizes both aesthetics and functionality. See them as experts there to help you implement your vision of what you want your outdoor living space to be.
Work with the Experts
Equipped with over four decades of experience in the luxury real estate market and one of the most trusted names in the field, James takes great pride in his unique ability to identify the needs of luxury homebuyers in California and beyond.
A top Realtor in every sense of the word, James continues to be the real estate specialist of choice for celebrities and high-net-worth individuals, thanks to his in-depth knowledge of the community, his discretion, and his strong negotiation skills.