Create an outside oasis that's every bit as beautiful, comfortable, and functional as the inside of your home.
Step 1: Invest in good hardscaping Invest in good hardscaping -- stone walls, patios, paths, decks, gazebos, arbors. It's the foundation for the rest of your furnishings, which can be selected and added to over time.
Step 2: Arrange conversational areas Arrange conversational areas just as you would in an indoor living room -- by clustering seating around a focal point.
Step 3: Let there be light String lights wherever you can -- along the top of a deck; at the edges of a table umbrella, on trees and bushes. Scatter hurricane candles around. Consider a year-round outdoor lamp with all-weather light bulbs and waterproof, washable shades.
Step 4: Make it cushy Find furnishings with an indoor feel that can be left outdoors -- plump sofas and chairs made of all-weather materials; drainable cushions; water-resistant pillows, and indoor/outdoor rugs.
TIP: Save space with pieces that perform double duty.
Step 5: Be flowery Plant lots of evergreens so something is always flourishing. Fill pots and planters with colorful seasonal blooms.
Step 6: Accessorize Add a few decorative objects. They can be as simple as vases and bowls or as elaborate as a waterfall or piece of sculpture. The only must is that it be something you love.
FACT: In 2006, homeowners spent $5.2 billion remodeling their patios and terraces.