How to Create a Cozy Outdoor Space

Laurel Powell DesignsPhoto by Alyssa Rosenheck. Design by Laurel Powell Architecture + Design.

Depending on where you live, porch and patio season can extend well into fall, providing plenty of incentive to create outdoor rooms that feel like true extensions of the home. Inspired to create an outdoor space that allows us to enjoy the perks of being outside yet offers the kind of cozy and inviting vibe found in the most welcoming interiors, we reached out to Laurel Powell of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Laurel Powell Architecture + Design. Powell’s firm makes a point of carrying architectural details throughout their projects, creating thoughtful moments both inside and out, so we thought she’d be the perfect person to weigh in on how to transform a porch or terrace into an ideal lounge area. Here are her recommendations:

It’s all about the mix. Rather than furnishing your outdoor space with a set of pieces, Powell suggests coming up with a mix of furniture in different finishes, which will provide the foundation of a more layered look reminiscent of interior spaces. Thanks to plenty of great indoor/outdoor fabrics on the market, she notes, you no longer have to worry about weather or pollen taking its toll on textiles.

Add an antique or vintage element. “I love having an antique piece in every space,” Powell says of adding something old to contrast with the new. “Even if it’s just an iron plant holder or old wooden bowl, pulling those details from the interior outside is a great way to make an outdoor area feel like a living space.” In the shutter porch featured above, Powell hung a vintage mirror—one of her favorite tricks for dressing an outdoor space. Easy to wipe down and fairly impervious to weather, the mirror reflects the surrounding greenery and natural light while adding a soulfulness to the space.

Don’t forget the details. Powell recommends bringing common interior touches like nailhead trim and specialty hardware outside to echo the attention to detail generally found throughout interior rooms. Adding living room staples like patterned pillows and a throw blanket will help the space seem more comfortable, cozy, and approachable as well. From an architectural standpoint, Powell likes to include specialty details outside by using molding finishes, brickwork, and interior-style millwork to add character to exterior spaces.

TSG Tip 226 from Laurel Powell of Laurel Powell Architecture + Design in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photograph by Alyssa Rosenheck. Laurel Powell Architecture + Design is featured in The Scout Guide Chattanooga.