Have you ever seen photos of outdoor living spaces that seemed to be calling your name? The ones that make you sigh and think “What would I give for THAT?!” Well, you’re not alone. But the good thing is there are plenty of ways to get your back yard there, whether you’re looking to meet a budget or if money is no object. That’s one of the advantages of our digital age – you can see it all and choose what you like to create your own personal oasis.

Outdoor entertaining and lounging isn’t exactly a new idea, but the design, technology and mechanics of it all have given us opportunities our parents never had. Rather than a cooler and a few lawn chairs, now we’re seeing entire kitchens, waterproof electronics, flat-screen TVs, and cozy fireplaces utilized in these inviting retreats.

With the shelter of a roof overhead and less weather extremes than many other parts of the country, dressing up your back yard and patio in Las Vegas is an affordable way to expand your living space without the expense of adding a room onto your home. Being attached to the home gives it a more fluid, continuous feel, creating the perfect environment for relaxation or entertaining – from a gathering to watch a football game, to hosting a sophisticated cocktail party.

But where do you begin? One source is the internet, where Pinterest and Google will provide inspiration; and visiting model homes for ideas and to see the space live and in person are excellent options, as well. These visuals will help you in selecting your own design and colors, and determine which elements are a must for your environment. Then, consider the following suggestions to help you create space that reflects your personal sense of style.

1. Deciding how to use your outdoor space

Your first decision is to determine if this is a space for quiet, intimate conversation – or a gathering spot for family-friendly BBQs? Do you see Game Days being spent out with your feet up and a cold one in your hand (enter: electronics) – or would a table-based fire and gourmet appliances give you the opportunity to entertain at the next level? The fact is, your options have no limit (your budget might, but not your options!). Once you know what you plan to use your outdoor living space for, you’ll know how to lay out your features -and where to shop first.

2. Consider the mood with lighting options

Lighting is going to set your tone, so you want to give some serious thought to this. Today, options for outdoor lighting are virtually limitless – from chandeliers to torchiers, they range in style from traditional and formal to sleek and modern. You can string globe lights around the perimeter for a festive air, or opt for artificial flameless candles. Adding a fireplace or a fire pit can not only add atmosphere but also be a source of sensual lighting and add drama to your environment.

3. Have a seat.

Look for furniture that invites you to virtually sink into it. The more welcoming and comfortable, the better. Lounges, wide chairs, and love seats that have thick cushions (in fabrics that are weather and fade-resistant) will make your guests want to kick off their shoes, relax, and stay awhile. Swings – whether on stands or ceiling mounted – are most definitely fun and attractive seating in any outdoor space (and you might even want to entertain the idea of a hammock.) Whatever you choose, ensure that you have plenty of seating available, as well as places for guests to place drinks and plates of food.

4. Remember that details are key.

One of the best ways things to define an actual living room from other outdoor areas is something most people don’t even think about: a rug. Why? Because it creates a physical anchor point and sets the tone for the entire aesthetic of the room with warmth and intimacy. Its color and design also has the power to accent the rest of the décor. Drapes and shades are another often overlooked element – not only can they cut the harsh glare of the sun, they can add softness and color, providing a sense of privacy – and when pulled aside, they give access to breathtaking views to remind us of what we love about being outdoors. Planters and lovely green plants continue the theme of blending indoor and outdoor spaces, too.

The bottom line is: Be daring! An outdoor living room can be your creative sandbox – a place to express your true self. Less expensive to build and furnish, it’s easy to see why they are so popular. If a little thought is put into it, the rewards can be gratifying. (You might even find yourself spending more time outdoors than in!) And time spent outdoors surrounded by nature is proven to refresh and invigorate us , both physically and emotionally. What better payoff can you possibly imagine?

New Home Resource helps current and future homeowners with all of their Las Vegas real estate needs. Whether your preference is for a newly-built home from a local builder, or a resale property in just the right location, a New Home Resource Realtor® is here to find the perfect property for you. Please contact a New Home Resource Realtor® today at 702-365-1000 or at Broker Joanna Piette, and agents Denise Moreno Thrasher, Jessica O’Brien, Evelyn ‘Beng’ Kern, Lance Partin and Kathy Paterniti are all here to help!