If you love the outdoors, you really want to spend as much time as possible enjoying your "exterior home." But, you don't just want a couple folding chairs sitting on a cement slab. To get an idea how popular the outdoor living areas have become, watch any designer show and you'll see plenty of competitions for the most decadent outdoor living spaces possible. However, you don't have to be a millionaire to create an oasis in your backyard. Let's look at ideas for affordable ways to turn your outdoor space into a real living room: 1. Furniture - The most obvious, and easiest, ways to turn your exterior space into a living room is to use furniture. Choose pieces that are similar to what you would find indoors but that have weatherproof fabric and finishes. Comfortable sofas and chairs encourage people to sit and stay for a while, just like they do in your living room. 2. Television - If your idea of entertainment is having a television in every room, who says you have to stop at the patio door? With the new weather resistant televisions, you can view your favorite shows under the stars. 3. Fireplace - If you have been enjoying an old fire pit, you know how much ambiance flames add to an outdoor seating area. But wouldn't a regular fireplace make that outdoors seem even more like your living room? Pull some comfy chairs up close, just like you do in your living room. 4. Shade - Think about how you provide shade from the sun streaming into the house through your windows and replicate the feeling and the look. Hanging drapes, sheers, or blinds will give the area a cozy living room feeling. Of course, you'll want to use weather resistant fabrics. This strategy can also be used to create "walls" around your seating areas, giving your outdoors a real indoors look and feel. Match the treatment you use to what you have inside the house and your living room will appear to move or float right outside. 5. Natural Walls - You can also place plants, shrubs, and trees around in such a way as to form more "walls" in your outdoor living room. Talk to a landscape designer for ideas of what sort of greenery will do well in your area. Even though plants would seem to be an outdoor element, when placed just right, they become part of your structured living room. 6. Floor - Landscape pavers, stone or even decking can further define and separate your outdoor living room from the rest of the backyard. Create an interesting pattern to form your living room "floor" outside just as you would inside. Varying the direction or color of the materials can further enhance the floor and make it a unique design feature. 7. Area Rug - It's amazing how the addition of a rug can change the whole feeling; turning a patio into a living room in the blink of an eye. Your goal is to create a relaxing, welcoming outdoor living room, and rugs are the perfect way to soften the hard edges. Look for sturdy weatherproof rugs that have an plush indoor quality and look to get the ultimate in comfort. 8. Music - When you entertain indoors, you usually play soft music to set the tone of the evening. You can continue this idea outdoors with a sound system designed for the outdoors. They even have speakers disguised as rocks. This feature has seen an incredible improvement since the days when a boombox would be hauled outside. 9. Indoor Standard Design - Choosing a design that says "inside" instead of "outside" is part of the trick of turning your patio into a living room. Instead of the standard wicker or beach themes, choose something more traditional, heavier, more upholstered. Try ornate mirrors, tables, and other accessories that scream "parlor" to get a very cozy feel. Why not treat your outdoor space just like an indoor space. With today's weatherproof fabrics, furniture, and even entertainment systems, you may not have to move the party inside at all!
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