By Angela Cabotaje

Whether you have a modern home made for indoor-outdoor living or you’re just looking to jazz up your backyard, you can live well in the great outdoors. Here are five ways to take your exterior space to the next level:

1. Relax Away

Opt for pieces that might work in your living room. Today’s modern design studios are manufacturing everything from stunning sofas to perfect-for-lounging daybeds, all made from materials like weather-resistant polyethylene or polypropylene “wicker,” fade- and stain-resistant fabric, rust-proof powder-coated aluminum, and durable teak. Companies like Loll have even re-imagined the classic Adirondack lounger into an eco-chic, modern version that features a built-in bottle opener.

2. Dine Alfresco

If you like to entertain, an outdoor dining space can be great for dinner under the stars or backyard barbecues. Consider the size and material of your table; bistros may work well for smaller spaces and groups, and expandable rectangular options can fit a crowd. And while wood-slat tables are modern and rustic, powder-coated steel and glass-topped options might be easier to clean and dry after a rain shower. The same goes for seating: dining benches are popular for their casual, flexible nature, but stackable chairs can help save space during colder months.

3. Pick Planters

If you have a deck or paved patio space, adding pops of greenery can freshen up the exterior—and a striking planter can pull it all together. Modern planters are now made of cool materials like Corten steel, which weathers to a rusty red-orange hue, and molded fiberglass that comes in eye-catching, bright colors. Some are made from resin to look just like poured concrete, while unique illuminated options can even double as mood lighting.

4. Go for Comfort

Cushions and pillows in fun colors and bold patterns can add life to a seating area and make things inviting. Look for ones made from water-resistant, fade-resistant materials; Sunbrella specializes in such fabrics. Another way to up the comfort factor is by keeping things cool. Canopies and cabanas are great stationary options, but chic umbrellas and portable sunshades are ideal for shade on the go. Also keep in mind that when the sun sets, temperatures drop. Keep a stack of blankets handy so you can continue lounging long after sunset.

5. Lighten Up

Let the sun provide your lighting by day, but after dark, set the mood with contemporary fireplaces and lanterns. Outdoor fireplaces range from basic wood-burning fire pits to sculptural, ethanol-fueled creations. Metal-and-glass lanterns fit right into the modern aesthetic; cluster them together on a table as a centerpiece or use them to line a walkway.

To stock up on outdoor furniture and accessories, check out these local furniture stores:

Modern: Alchemy Collections, BoConcept, Dania, Design Within Reach

Contemporary European: Inform Interiors, Ligne Roset, Roche Bobois

Classic: Crate and Barrel, Ikea, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Room and Board, Terris Draheim Exterior, West Elm

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