What’s Your Outdoor Seating Style?

Covered porch with Ballard Designs Sutton Collection outdoor furniture

There’s no better time to get ready for summer living. Maximize your outdoor lounge time by transforming a backyard space into a relaxing retreat. The best place to start is finding the right seating that not only fits your space, but your lifestyle, too. And that can depend on what you love to do most when you step outside.

Outdoor furniture with deep cushions make lounge-worthy spots

For Covered Porches — Extending Living Space Outdoors

For outdoor areas in close proximity to your indoor rooms, look for outdoor porch furniture that echoes your indoor pieces. Choosing cohesive items will ease the transition between indoors and out, making your porch or patio feel as comfortable and lived in as any room inside. Look for seating with thick cushions and a versatile style that could just as easily work indoors. Here, we love the way our all-weather rattan seating, like our Sutton Collection, lends a clean and classic cottage feel. As your budget allows, add a variety of accent tables for accommodating food and drinks, a couple of stools for extra pull-up seating and stylish lighting to keep the party going long after the sun goes down.

An outdoor sectional creates maximum seating

You don’t need a large space to create that outdoor room feel. An unused corner of your porch is the perfect spot for a cushioned sectional — and an intimate hangout. The slim silhouette of the cast aluminum frame (our Amalfi Collection) tucks into smaller spaces. Bold stripes perk up the look and an indoor-outdoor rug rounds out the cozy space.

For Poolside Spaces — Lounging & Sunning

A pair of chaises makes for poolside perfection

If you ask us, a chaise lounge is required poolside seating for sunning, reading and relaxing. If you have the room, station a pair on either side of the pool so you can chase the rays or shade as the sun changes. No shade? You definitely need to add a freestanding umbrella to your must-have list!

A pool with lounge area and umbrella

Thanks to today’s water-repellent cushions, you don’t have to make-do with uncomfortable or unsightly seating just because you’re not in a covered area. Easily recreate your living room’s ultra-cozy, family-friendly setting right at poolside with a mix of seating styles surrounding an outdoor ottoman. To complete the look, add an indoor outdoor rug and outdoor table decor.

For Al Fresco Patios and Terraces — Dining Al Fresco

Outdoor dining area on backyard patio

If the words “backyard” and “barbecue” go hand in hand to you, then prioritize your outdoor space by setting up an open-air dining room near your grill or outdoor kitchen. Dining al fresco is an experience best shared with family and friends, so select as large a table as your space will allow. If you want to be the hostess with the mostess, add cushions for comfort and outdoor tabletop decor to take your outdoor entertaining to the next level.

Al fresco dining on gravel terrace

Poolside dining space

If you’d rather eat by the pool, create a dining experience that’s worthy of your surroundings. Here, the look of rattan outdoor furniture adds a casual, tropical feel that makes for an easy escape from the everyday. And if you’re not in a covered area, the coordinating umbrella is worth the splurge.

For Small Outdoor Nooks — Enjoying Coffee & Conversation

Outdoor dining collection on terrace

Even if you don’t do a lot of outdoor entertaining, it’s still nice to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee or a casual meal with a few friends. Keep it easy and carve out a quiet spot on your lawn for a café table and chairs.

Ballard Designs West Hampton Collection on outdoor patio

Enjoy having a lemonade after your laps? Poolside is the perfect place to set up a café table and chairs — and a great place to accommodate drop-in guests. If you tend to lounge around in a wet swimsuit, choose your furniture wisely. Our teak set features Quick-Dry Mesh® seats to allow water and air to flow through.

For more inspiration, browse our outdoor decor pins on Pinterest, or find all of our gorgeous outdoor rooms in our Outdoor Rooms Photo Gallery.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    April 17, 2015

    hello, I was wondering, when hanging light fixtures under a covered poarch, 3 hanging lights for example, how many wall sconces are ok? Should they be added just outside the main doors you enter and exit from? When does it get to be too much?? Also, how low should the hanging light fixtures hang? Should the bottom touch the top of the doorways? Thank you!


    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      April 24, 2015

      Hi Melissa,
      It’s difficult to say how much is too much without seeing your space, but overall, it’s not uncommon to have three points of light in a room, inside or outside. What you’ve described sounds lovely.

      In terms of the height at which the pendant lights should hang, we think a couple of inches above the doorway would work. If its a light you’ll be walking under, we suggest about 8 feet. If its a light that is hung over a piece of furniture (so you won’t be able to walk under the light), you can hang it a little lower.
      Best of luck!
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply

    Edie Barsa

    October 4, 2014

    Hi, I just purchased your Sutton outdoor furniture 4 chairs for a seating group. What size rug and color should I be looking for? Thanks…Edie

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      October 9, 2014

      Hi Edie,
      Thanks for your comment. Picking a rug size can be tricky, but we would be happy to help you with a few options. Our Design Solutions team is a free service that will help you recreate a plan for your space. Simple complete this form, and our team will contact you!
      Best of luck!
      The How to Decorate Team

  3. Reply


    June 28, 2014

    I love the pillows and rug in the first picture in the Sutton Collection. When I view the pillows (Marco Ikat and French Stripe) in the catalog and online they look black with a sand tan color but in the catalog and on this picture (same as catalog) they look grey/navy. Would you please give me a better description on the Ikat Pillows before I order? I love the blue/grey color instead of black and I would like it to match the rug which I assume is Gray Sand RW211.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      October 9, 2014

      Hi Sonia,
      Our Design Solutions team would be happy to help you come up with a plan for your outdoor space. It’s a free service exactly for that purpose! Simply complete this form, and our team will come up with a design plan for you.
      Best of luck!
      The How to Decorate Team

  4. Reply

    Mary Ellen Bishop

    May 6, 2014

    Hi there, I want to incorporate hot pink in my living room. I have an oversized sofa in a tan windowpane pattern in a Ralph Lauren fabric. It is has a hint of black in the pane. I was thinking a killer hot pink floral arrangement with some hot pink pillows. Would a hot pink accent chair be too much?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 6, 2014

      Hi Mary Ellen,

      Thanks for your comment. We love your idea of using a bold color palette in your living room! We say, ‘go for it!’ As far as a hot pink accent chair, it’s hard to say whether it would be too much without seeing the space, but if you are still nervous about it, our design services team can create a full plan for you. You’ll need to submit your room using this form and our team can get working on it. Usually there’s about a week turn around!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  5. Reply


    April 24, 2014

    How should I decide the size of an out door rug to purchase for a seating area AND under a square outdoor dinning table?

    • Reply

      How to Decorate Team

      May 5, 2014

      Hi Denise,

      Thanks for your comment. We would love to give you some guidance in regards to your outdoor seating area. Our design services team actually does just that, so they can create a full plan for you. You’ll need to submit your questions using this form and our team can get working on it. Usually there’s about a week turn around!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team