You don't have to be wealthy or even own your own home to have an outdoor room in which to lounge and converse. All you need is nice weather and a little creativity to bring the indoors outside.
1. Start with furniture and accessories. It's relatively easy to create a new conversation area outdoors. If your budget allows, you can buy outdoor furniture such as benches, tables, and chairs made from a wood like cedar that naturally weathers to a beautiful silver-grey finish. Add comfortable cushions covered in outdoor fabric. Use this furniture to create a simple conversation area. Anchor the grouping with an indoor/outdoor area rug and add decorative accents such as:
- Houseplants in oversized planters.
- Decorative pillows and throws.
- Wall decor (if an outside wall of your home or fence frames part of the room).
- End tables.
- Trunks or chests (these can also be used for storage).
2. Hunt for thrifty additions. An inexpensive way to create an outdoor conversation area is by scouting thrift stores for used furniture and decor. However, if you're not using furniture designed for the outdoors, it's important to use this furniture under the protection of a covered patio or porch, awning, portable shade, or gazebo. You may also want to keep a protective tarp handy for sudden summer thunderstorms.
Consider using items that are not currently being used indoors:
- Small oval- or square-framed mirrors work as serving trays.
- Painted concrete bricks and plywood pieces can become great coffee and end tables.
- Mason canning jars work as drinking glasses; turn the lids upside down to use as coasters (if the lids are in two pieces, glue them together).
- Wood pallets can become chairs, portable floors, and other usable outdoor furniture (for example, this Adirondack chair made from reclaimed lumber).
3. Add a focal point. A portable fire pit is an excellent addition for your outdoor conversation area. The fire pit can serve as as a focal point for the space, similar to an actual fireplace. If a new fire pit is too expensive, try to find a used one or make your own using a large cast-iron pot, Dutch oven, or metal wok placed on a piece of flagstone.
4. Frame the outdoor room. Most outdoor rooms are created on a covered porch or patio, under a trellis, or in a gazebo. However, if these obvious places are unavailable, you can still create a separate conversation area in your yard.
An outer wall of your home can serve as one wall of your outdoor room. You could also use a portion of a perimeter stone or wood panel fence. Create additional walls using room divider screens. You can easily make a simple frame out of wood, PVC pipes, or a portable shade unit and hang fabric walls for a chic look.
Use flagstone or interlocking tiles for flooring. Then create your conversation area in the same fashion as described above.
5. Incorporate lighting. You'll have plenty of natural light during the day in your outdoor room, but you will need to add lighting to use the room in the evening. This can easily be done using solar lights, candle lanterns, and different types of battery-powered LED lights.