Interior designers spot these common outdoor decorating mistakes over and over again. And you may not even realize you’re making them.

When it comes to designing your home, indoor spaces like the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms tend to take first priority. But that doesn’t mean your outdoor spaces should be overlooked. Any outdoor space, whether you’re lucky enough to have a large backyard, pool deck, front porch, or even a small balcony, can serve as a natural extension of your interior design and add to the overall style of your home.

And while it can be tempting to just run out to the nearest store to pick up a set of matching lounge chairs, taking the time to thoughtfully design and curate your outdoor space is the key to creating a home that truly feels cohesive from the inside out. 

Before you get started on designing the perfect space though, there are a few things designers want you to know. Specifically, there are some key outdoor decorating mistakes they urge you not to make. 

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Read on for some common mistakes to avoid when designing your space.

1. Neglecting to Keep the Look Cohesive

Chelius House of Design Porch

Photo: Courtesy of Chelius House of Design; Design: Chelius House of Design

According to Erin Chelius, the principal designer and owner of Chelius House of Design, the biggest outdoor design mistake she sees is the lack of a cohesive design throughout the space. Throwing together an array of mismatched pieces is a sure way to make your outdoor space feel like an afterthought, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to match exactly. 

“Not everything needs to be completely matching,” she says. “But, for example, tying in a common pattern or accent color can help keep multiple separate outdoor areas balanced and coordinated.”

2. Not Adding Enough Comfortable Seating

The easiest way to make your outdoor space feel welcoming is by incorporating plenty of comfy seating options, but many homeowners don’t consider comfort when shopping for their outdoor decor. Interior designer Laura Brophy suggests adding loungers, plush outdoor sofas, and chaise lounges to create a space that feels cozy and inviting.

“It’s crucial to provide ample seating that not only complements the area but also prioritizes comfort and relaxation. Opting for hard, uncomfortable chairs or insufficient seating arrangements can hinder the enjoyment of the outdoor space,” she says.

3. Ignoring Ambient Lighting

Outdoor Dining by Burchard Design

Photo: Abby Blossom Photo; Design: Honey Design + Build

Sure, flood lights and outdoor sconces can do a great job lighting up your outdoor area, but they leave something to be desired when it comes to ambiance. Ashleigh Burchard of Honey Design + Build says that sticking with run-of-the-mill lighting is one common outdoor design mistake that can really detract from the beauty of your space. She suggests incorporating a few fun lighting options to make the space feel special. 

“Not using enough twinkling or string lights in different varieties is one mistake I see a lot,” she says. “Adding string lights and twinkle lights can make just about any landscape feel magical.”

4. Forgetting to Factor in Shade

Pool by Laura Brophy

Photo by Hugo Landa; Design by Laura Brophy

Even if you prefer to spend most of your time soaking up the sun, your outdoor space still needs some sort of shaded spot to keep you and your guests cool and comfortable. Covered areas not only give people a spot to escape the heat without retreating inside; they can add visual interest to your yard as well.

“Incorporating shade options such as umbrellas or pergolas can provide relief from the sun and enhance the comfort of the lounging area,” Brophy says.

5. Avoiding White in Your Design Scheme

Using bright, white furniture outside is something a lot of homeowners fear, according to Burchard. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. Sure, you’ll deal with some dirt and grime, but outdoor cushions these days are crafted from easy-to-clean materials that make it easy to maintain your aesthetic.

“Yes it will get dirty. Like all outdoor furniture,” Burchard says. “Simply use whitening agents when you clean your covers and you will have a fresh modern looking outdoor space, not one that looks outdated from the start.”