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6 Designer-Approved Ways to Give Your Backyard the Makeover It Needs

ways to give your backyard a makeover

Kathy Kuo Home

With longer days and warmer temperatures on their way, it’s time to get your outdoor living situation, whether that’s a petite patio or an acre of land, in tip-top shape. If your backyard space has seen better days, it might be time to give it a much-needed makeover—and if you're wondering where to begin, that's where we come in.

Think of your backyard as an extension of your living space: it should match up with the needs of your interiors. Do you want a dining area to host al fresco dinner parties? Or will it function as a peaceful retreat for you to relax?

Whether you add a garden, patio furniture, or simply some string lights will depend on the size of your space, your budget, and most importantly, your lifestyle. To make the most of your backyard, we tapped a few interior designers for their advice on backyard makeovers. Read on for their top tip—wse'll wait patiently for an invitation to your backyard barbeque.

Meet the Expert

Focus on Small Details

Putting intention into your outdoor living space goes a long way, as does adding thoughtful decor—it might even encourage you to spend more time outdoors, according to designer Kathy Kuo.

"I like to think of outdoor space the same way I think of indoor space,” Kuo says. “The design should be practical, beautiful, and a reflection of your personality.”

If you already have outdoor furniture that you’re happy with, Kuo recommends focusing on the accessories to freshen up the look. The small details don’t cost a lot to update, but can make a big impact aesthetically.

Play around with cushions and throw pillows—ones that can withstand Mother Nature’s summer storms, of course— that’ll add color, texture, and a smile to your face.

ways to makeover your backyard

Kathy Kuo Home

Switch Up Your Lighting

Outdoor lighting is a must for backyards of all styles and sizes. How else will you see your friends’ beautiful faces during your late-night dinner party?

First, stock up on string lights, which instantly create a warm and inviting atmosphere with little effort impact on your budget. Malory Quarnberg of Dorothy Jean Decor suggests hanging string lights on a fence, pergola, or trees for a magical ambiance.

You could also consider purchasing rechargeable, portable lanterns for your backyard. They’re a practical option, especially if you’re lacking outdoor outlets, coming in various styles and dimensions. You can add one as a centerpiece to your outdoor dining table, a collection of them to your patio steps, or one wherever you could use a little extra glow.


Don’t forget about candles, too—they’re an easy, affordable way to add warmth and coziness. 

Add Personal Touches

DIY-ers, this one’s for you. If you don’t shy away from art projects, Quarnberg suggests getting out your paint brushes, hammer, and childlike sense of play to create one-of-a-kind decor pieces that’ll add a sense of hominess to your backyard—all without spending serious money. 

“Get creative with DIY projects, such as a pallet garden, painted rocks, or a homemade bird feeder,” she says. Not only would this add a personal touch to your backyard, but it'll be a conversation piece this summer and in years to come.

Define a Living Space with a Rug

Just like in your living room, the main seating area of an outdoor space will feel most complete when tied together with a rug. Shop specifically for a weatherproof and stain-resistant outdoor rug though—one that can withstand wind, rain, the scorching sun, and an occasional spill.

As for what size to buy, Popov recommends going big, as the rug should be spacious enough to be tucked at least halfway under your outdoor furniture. A large rug makes the space visually appear bigger and more luxurious too, she says. 

“This helps ground the space and define the lounging area,” Popov says.

ways to makeover your backyard

Kathy Kuo Home

Liven Up Your Landscaping

No outdoor space would feel complete without some landscaping. Whether you opt for trees, shrubs, potted plants, hanging baskets, or even a vertical garden is up to you. Povov recommends using various sculptural planters of different sizes and placing them in clusters (as opposed to spreading them out) to add intrigue.

Section Out Your Space

If you’re working with a large backyard space (lucky you!), consider breaking it up into several liveable sections. Can’t wait to host friends and family? Designate a space for outdoor dining, with a dining table and chairs decorated with flowers and candles. To take in fresh air while exercising, set up a workout area with a yoga mat or weights. Amy Hovis of Eden Garden Design, suggests dedicating another area to relaxing and entertainment. 

“You can set up comfortable seating, install a hammock or a swing, and even add a fire pit or a barbecue grill for an outdoor movie night or a cookout,” Hovis says.

No need to get overwhelmed with options though. Hovis recommends tackling one area at a time, creating a focal point that you’ll use often, like a water feature, outdoor furniture, or a fire pit—anywhere that encourages you to read, relax, entertain, or simply soak up the summer sun.