Dreaming of summer in the backyard or patio? Create an oasis


The portable weatherproof Sparkler lantern, from Poltrona Frau and designed by Kensaku Oshiro, is Inspired by the Japanese, “senko hanabi,” meaning hand held fireworks. The fixture references rice paper lamps, traditional wineskins and organic shapes. Its modern silhouette and interesting lightplay would make it a soothing, contemplative light feature in a blissful backyard space. PHOTO CREDIT: The Associated Press


Designed by Lauren Rottet, the Fontaine Water Feature and its cousin, the Fenix firepit, are handcrafted from a piece of basalt. Water and fire vessels are a great addition to outdoor spaces, providing elemental atmosphere, even in an urban setting. PHOTO CREDIT: The Associated Press


This image, provided by Ruggable, shows the Nomada rug. Washable outdoor rugs, like this one with a homey navy and white Southwestern print, are a great way to bring an indoor vibe outdoors. PHOTO CREDIT: The Associated Press


Ruggable shows the Palazzo rug. Soft, neutral colors in a geometric motif create a comfortable underfoot foundation for an outdoor space. Machine washability makes the rug easy to care for. PHOTO CREDIT: The Associated Press


This image provided by Ruggable shows the Re-Jute Tillie rug. Designed to mimic traditional jute rugs, this collection is made of recycled materials and is washable; it's also durably stain and shed resistant. PHOTO CREDIT: The Associated Press

A relaxing retreat just steps from the back door? Count us in.

Outdoor home spaces serve a lot of functions, but Soothing Refuge is one that designers say is in high demand. Aromatic plantings. Romantic arbors. A meandering path. A yoga platform. Pergola daybeds. Prefab saunas. Plunge Pools. An outdoor shower. And comfortable furniture that can stand up to the weather.

“The outdoor living trend has been building for the last decade, but it got a major bump during the pandemic,” said Dan DiClerico, home improvement and outdoor director for the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Seamless transition

There can be comfort and ease in keeping a flow between indoors and outdoors. DiClerico calls spaces that straddle that line “transition rooms.”

Interior designer Anna Popov is using folding glass walls in a client’s home, for a double-sided fireplace surrounded by indoor and outdoor seating.

Weather-friendly style

Durable materials and new tech have made for weather-hardy furniture.

A permanent roof over an outdoor living area increases the number of months it can be used. Pergolas and gazebos in kits can be assembled by a proficient DIYer. A retractable, weatherproof fabric awning in a pattern that complements your outdoor furnishings adds an aesthetic and practical element. Or, maybe you just prefer a patio umbrella.

Zen amenities

Yoga platforms, hot tubs, Japanese soaking tubs and daybeds are found at resorts, but people are bringing the idea home.

“These experiences aren’t just reserved for high-end clients,” Popov said. “There’s a distillation of these elements happening throughout the design world, as the value of home and comfort increases.”

Don’t have the room or cash for a full-size pool? “One of the things we’re seeing more and more of,” said Apartment Therapy editor Danielle Blundell, “is the addition of an outdoor tub or shower. This feels a little more doable in a small space than maybe even a cold plunge pool.”

GreenspacesRomantic arbors, meandering paths and plantings can create a relaxing backyard retreat.

Blundell cites interesting ways to create privacy, including salvaged shutters, wooden slats or greenery walls. With a tall planter of evergreens, microgreens, herbs or succulents, you’ve got privacy and added gardening possibilities. Plant lavender, herbs, jasmine and mock orange for a fragrant oasis; ornamental grasses, ferns and lambs’ ears add texture; wind chimes, a bird bath and feeder, a tabletop fountain and a gravel path will introduce gentle sound to your garden.

“These little corners of calm are perfect spots for stargazing or starting your day off with a dose of nature,” Blundell said.

New York-based writer Kim Cook covers design and decor topics for The Associated Press.

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