Love the outdoors? You can’t always sit outside year-round, but these outdoor rooms — our favorites from 2013 — have cushy seating, fire pits, and even full-scale outdoor fireplaces and kitchens to help make them cozy, welcoming, and attractive even when the temperature dips. Have a small patio? One of two alternatives works: small-scale seating (think bistro tables and chairs in wrought iron) or built-in seating, as you’ll see in several covered outdoor “rooms” here. Even concrete works for built-in outdoor couches, softened with plump cushions and plenty of pillows! With enough space, you can even have several outdoor seating rooms in the yard: have one alfresco eating area at one end of the patio, and a set of umbrella-covered loungers at the other (perhaps overlooking the pool).
Pergolas and other enclosures make outdoor rooms cozy: wood slats or greenery are striking over a complete outdoor kitchen or brick or stone fireplace. Cushioned wicker chairs are popular as never before — and in every color of the rainbow, from natural browns and “wood grain” looks, to white, black, or blue bases with pillows ranging from spring green to purple. Rooftop terraces look inviting with soothing green couches and chairs; capitalizing on a great view of water or sky with low-slung furniture that doesn’t “get in the way.” On the other hand, in a busy suburban or city space, group your outdoor set behind a snug retaining wall, wood fence, or stone planters that serve as a natural privacy barrier. Don’t forget to bring the candles for splendid nighttime ambience, too!