The Great Outdoors: Top 10 Backyard Design Ideas

The Great Outdoors: Top 10 Backyard Design Ideas

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I am interrupting an already scheduled post in celebration of the warm weather we’re having here NC! The state of North Carolina, Charlotte in particular, has been known to tease us around this time of year but I can’t help but get excited about the sunshine and prospect of spring.

This was supposed to be a Whole30 post since I stared the challenge on Saturday but I’m going to save that for next week in order to talk about one of my favorite subjects: OUTDOOR SPACES! But hey, outdoor living and gardening kind of go hand-in-hand with Whole30 right?


When it comes to outdoor decorating there are a few very specific elements that I would want to include in a space I was designing. Herbs and potted flowers are a must. I love all climbing plants on walls, pergolas or trellises. Regional flowers like hydrangeas, camillas, gardenias and ferns here in NC are important to me to include in an outdoor space. If I was more south I would definitely include palm and fruit trees.

I also dream of having a secret garden one day that flows off in a U-shaped, ranch-style home with a lush private courtyard and a simple yet stylish patio that dons a hot tub. Aren’t dreams great? I don’t care for grass as much as I do veggies and flowers and if I didn’t have an eight-year-old I would pull up all my grass and put down pavers and pea gravel or even turf (if cost was no issue). I love the geometry of pavers and the sophisticated look they bring to a space. If you take a look at the patio makeover I did last year with Lowe’s you can see the pavers and pea gravel that we put down at the adorable row house in Alexandria, VA.

Gardening and yard maintenance can be a lot of work and I don’t get to it every year. But this year I’m determined to revive our vegetable garden, touch up our deck and landscaping to create a more simple and easily maintained, beautiful space!

I hope you enjoy these outdoor inspirations as well as the top 10 backyard design elements that are important to me!

1. Private Dining Areas

Dining al fresco is essential to any outdoor living space and my girl, Michelle of Iron & Twine makes it look easy!

The Great Outdoors: Top 10 Backyard Design Ideas

{Design via Iron & Twine}

{Design via Iron & Twine}

2. Pavers

I love the geometry and symmetry that concrete pavers create and the sophistication it adds to an outdoor area.

{Design by Brittany Makes via The Home Depot Blog}


{Design by Desert Domicile via The Home Depot Blog}


{Design by Simple Stylings (me!), Photo by Laura Metzler}

3. Dutch Doors

Dutch doors can be thought of as impractical, and they are for me now since I recently became a crazy cat lady, but a girl can dream, right?! Still definitely one of my favorite design elements!

{Design by Heather Taylor via Domino, photo by Brittany Ambridge}

4. Hot tubs

I know some people love or hate hot tubs but I am definitely a LOVER, no matter how bad the eye sore! I’m dying to put one outside on my deck!



5. String Lights

Outside of a fire pit, string lights might be my #1 outdoor necessity!

{Design +photo via Simple Stylings (me!)}

{Design + photography via Simple Stylings}

Shop some of our favorite outdoor decor:

[show_shopthepost_widget id=”2425603″]

6. Decks + Patios

A gorgeous deck or patio is a very important element of backyard design but they don’t have to be fancy. Keep it simple and it is definitely a DIY that can be done.

And by the way, this backyard contains so many of my favorite elements and it is absolutely at the top of my inspiration list! I mean I have no words for how perfect this is…especially the chic hot tub!

The simple brick patio below is equally gorgeous!


{Design by The Shift Creative via Glitter Guide, Photo by CHRISTINA WELLS OF HELLO BLUE PHOTO}

7. Stylish Courtyards

There is nothing more pleasing to my outdoor-loving heart than a cozy, private courtyard.

{Photo via Whitney Leigh Morris/The Tiny Canal Cottage}

{Design + photo by Brittany Makes via The Home Depot Blog}

8. Pergolas + Climbing Plants

Pergolas and lush climbing plants create the perfect back drop for any deck or patio!


{Image via BHG}

9. Vegetable Gardens

You might not think of a vegetable garden as a design element but if you put a little bit of thought into it they can be just as chic as the rest of your space! And there’s something about being able to pluck fresh fruits and veggies from your own backyard to feed your family!

{Image via BHG}


10. Fire Pits

I don’t care if you buy a fire pit, DIY it or have one custom installed. Do yourself a favor (if you haven’t already) and put a fire pit in your backyard! It’s an entertaining no-brainer!


{Image via Brooklyn Limestone}


I hope you enjoyed this plethora of amazing backyard design inspiration! Instead of only sharing magazine-worthy dream homes, I tried to find designs and projects that were doable for the average person! You can find all of these and more on my Outdoor Decor Pinterest board so make sure to follow along for more inspo I’ll be pinning over the next couple months!



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  1. I love Dutch doors too. But I definitely like to keep bugs out of the house. I think I have talked my husband into letting me put one on the garden shed! So i can get the look i love and don’t have to worry about keeping critters out.

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