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Outdoor Dining Rooms, Fireplaces, and Retaining Walls: Top Outdoor Living Space Ideas

Outdoor Dining Rooms, Family & Friends Gathering Area

Craving some time outside? In a fast-paced, high-tech world, it’s only natural to want to reconnect with nature, family and friends. One of the best ways to bring the outdoors back into your life is to create a backyard living room.

Creating a lounge-worthy outdoor living room allows you to experience the peace and relaxation of a vacation - fresh air and leisurely conversation surrounded by natural beauty – in your very own backyard. When designing your personal staycation or entertainment zone, consider incorporating some of these top outdoor living ideas:

Stylish Outdoor Dining Rooms

Bring the comfort of your home outside with an outdoor dining room. Whether elegant or rustic, bring your personal style into the design and let your outdoor dining room reflect the overall theme of your home. Not sure what style fits you? Explore our guide to outdoor living room design here. Form no longer bows to function in outdoor dining spaces—in other words, your outside eating area should be as gorgeous and comfortable as the table you set inside.

Outdoor Dining Set Ideas

There are myriad options for outdoor dining sets including wood, concrete, metal, wicker and more. You can even mix materials for a modern eclectic look. For example, pairing a copper chairs with a concrete dining table featuring wooden legs gives you a rustic-meets-industrial feel. If you host dinner parties where conversation tends to linger long into the night, opt for comfy chairs like wicker adorned with decorative fabric-covered cushions. If your table serves merely as a spot to grab a quick bite before jumping back into the pool, a more sleek and minimalistic style may be just the right solution.

Outdoor Dining Table with Wooden Chairs | Boho Backyard Features

This boho backyard features wooden chairs softened with a linen table cloth and funky lighting.

Tablescape Ideas: Place Settings, Centerpieces and More

The trend of contrasting materials carries over to your tablescape decor, where you can include various textures like burlap placemats, metal candelabras, wooden chargers and chandeliers. For a funky look, shop your local thrift store for mix-and-match placemats, vintage rugs for table runners and old lace doilies you can repurpose for your outdoor table. We love creating our own outdoor dining room centerpieces using flowers from the garden, seasonal fruit or gourds (think pumpkins during fall), driftwood, lanterns, candles and more. Other simple tablescape ideas are a bowl full of shells, a tabletop Zen garden or a bouquet of tropical flowers.

Candle on Backyard Table, Nautical Centerpiece

Get creative and have fun designing a tablescape for your backyard like this nautical centerpiece.

Lighting and Shade Structures

Decorative lighting allows you to enjoy your outdoor dining room after the sun goes down. Shade structures make cool places to eat when it gets too hot. These elements give your outdoor dining area a finished, high-end look. And the options are endless. Lighting ideas include solar path lights, twinkle lights and tiki torches. Shade structure ideas include canopies outfitted with fabric, arbors with jasmine or patio umbrellas.

Outdoor String Lighting | Outdoor Living

This umbrella makes a great space to catch some shade.

Cozy Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Features

When basking in the heat of summer’s golden rays, a fireplace may be the furthest outdoor living element from your mind. However, for year-round enjoyment of your backyard, a fireplace becomes a star feature. When designing your fireplace, keep in mind the overall style of your home and landscape. The fireplace should flow with the rest of your backyard design while also providing functional space and enhancing the mood of your backyard.

First, consider how you anticipate using your fireplace. Is it more for decoration? Do you plan to use your outdoor fireplace to cook s’mores or other tasty treats? Do you live in a cold winter climate and therefore need an outdoor heating source? Answering these questions will guide the design and style of your outdoor fireplace.

Outdoor Fireplace, Fire Features

Stone gives this backyard fireplace a beautiful rustic look

Outdoor fireplaces come in many different forms, from a simple fire pit to a built-in fireplace surrounded by stone. These models come in a variety of fuel options. Choose a wood-burning fireplace for an authentic feel or go with a gas fireplace with ceramic log for greater convenience. To really add sparkle and shine to your evening entertainment, consider fireplace glass. These glass rocks and gems are designed to withstand high heat and shimmer against the flickering flames of your fire.

Outdoor Fire Pit, Outdoor Landscaping

This fire pit opens up to an unbelievable landscape. We’d love to roast s’mores here!

Charming Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are hardscape structures usually made of stone or pavers that section off areas of your backyard and prevent erosion. Retaining walls are ideal for hilly backyards, but most outdoor living rooms can benefit from the structured look and protection that retaining walls provide. Retaining walls also add focal points to your backyard and add privacy.

Multi Level Retaining Walls with Plants | Backyard Structure

This multi-level retaining wall protects the landscape from erosion and gives the backyard a structured look.

Some homeowners are turning to rock walls to enhance their backyard landscape, even if they don’t need the functionality of a retaining wall. Work with a local mason or landscape designer to build a custom rock wall that complements your landscape. Some ideas include modern curved walls, undulating river rocks, towering medieval-look walls with arches and sleek walls stacked with slate.

Want more ideas?

Check out’s Pinterest boards for more ideas on designing your outdoor living room. There are tons of fire pit and fireplace ideas as well as outdoor décor ideas so you can start customizing your backyard to suit your personality and lifestyle.