Rustic Outdoor Design Ideas

By Interior Designer TRACY SVENDSEN | Published on September 27, 2020 | Updated on September 03, 2023 |

Rustic Outdoor Design Ideas: Creating a rustic outdoor living area can be a great way to extend your home and enjoy the beauty of nature. Adding new seating and a fire pit is one of the easiest ways to spruce up your outdoor area and can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your space.

Additionally, incorporating plants and plant stands can add height and visual interest and attract beneficial insects and birds. When it comes to lighting, there are many options to choose from. String lights and wrought iron fixtures can add a cozy, rustic feel, while solar-powered path lights can provide beautiful indirect and diffused light at night.

Consider setting up an outdoor kitchen area if you enjoy cooking and entertaining. This can be just as creative and productive as your indoor kitchen, including everything from grills and pizza ovens to serving platters and freshwater and ice areas.

Ultimately, the key to creating a rustic outdoor living area is to incorporate natural elements and materials, such as stone, wood, and potted plants, and to make the space feel intimate and engaging. With some creativity and careful planning, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor living space that you and your loved ones will enjoy for years to come. 

Here are a few tips for creating your own outdoor living space for entertaining or simply relaxing with the sights and sounds of your surrounding environment. Images are courtesy of Locati Architects, located in Montana. 

Log Home Outdoor Design | Locati Architects

Rustic Outdoor Seating Area with Magnificant Views

This is one of my favorite images of a rustic outdoor seating area.  The view is breathtaking, and the soft yellow fabric works well with wood and adds a sunny warmth.

1.  Rustic Outdoor Design Ideas: Mark Your Territory

Many of us spend a lot of time looking for a house or apartment with an open floor plan that provides a sense of space, but that’s the last thing you want to do for outdoor living. An open floor plan outdoors is called a yard.

You need to clearly define your space to give it a sense of structure and comfort. Rock walls, stone, lattice structures, and pavers work wonderfully, as do well-placed potted plants in various shapes, colors, and sizes.

Setting up your outdoor “room” will make it feel much more intimate and engaging, not to mention adding elements of natural beauty. For a colorful and creative touch, find an easy-to-clean outdoor area rug to make the area feel like an extension of your home.

Rustic Outdoor Living | Locati Architects

2.  The Warmth of Candle Light

Your guests will feel right at home with the warmth of a fire and soft light illuminating your table. Bring the rustic feel of nature to your table with candle holders made from the natural elements of your surroundings.

Cozy Rustic Outdoor Ideas | Locati Architects

Modern Rustic Outdoor Seating Area
Here’s a great example of a modern rustic approach to outdoor entertaining. The use of neutral colors in the furniture and throw pillows blend in seamlessly with the surrounding views.  A perfect mix and match of pattern and the occasional throw keep this outdoor space elegant and cozy.

3.  Choose Cozy Seating

There are so many options for outdoor seating. That’s a good thing, but it can be challenging to choose what works best. Just ask yourself a few questions. How many people do you want to accommodate? Do you ever want to lie down and have a nap out there? Will it be protected from sun, snow, and rain?

Mixed materials are beautiful. Combining wood and metal elements and mixing chairs with loveseats or couches can make an elegant and inviting combination. Waterproofing is key if needed, and some throw pillows can add a blast of much-needed color and creativity. Be sure to include coffee tables or end tables. If you plan to spend significant time enjoying your outdoor area, you will need plenty of space for your dining and drinking needs.

Farmhouse Backyard Ideas

Gorgeous Farmhouse Porch Area with Cozy Seating
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

Log Home Outdoor Ideas | Locati Architects

Rustic Outdoor Design Ideas | A Stunning View

A stunning view with golden light filtering across the side of this beautiful rustic home.  This seating arrangement is perfectly situated to enjoy the surrounding mountains and forest, but it could also be moved to accommodate conversation.

Rustic Outdoor Patio Ideas | Locati Design

4.  Outdoor Plants & Plant Stands

Plants and plant stands can showcase various greenery and florals while adding height, color, and visual interest. Additionally, incorporating plants into a backyard can attract beneficial insects and birds, creating a more vibrant and diverse ecosystem.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas

Sienna Fiber Stone Outdoor Planters
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

Inspired by the look of Moroccan stone decor, these Sienna planters add a global accent to your outdoor area. Crafted of faux stone with a patinaed finish, the design features a double row of delicate ribbing for artisanal character.

5. Light My Fire | Rustic Outdoor Design Ideas

Outdoor fire pits are in vogue – and are key elements for creating that intimate outdoor feel, establishing a focal point in the space, and adding some needed warmth for cool summer nights.

Depending on your area, you can go with a tabletop fire bowl, fire pit, or chiminea, or build yourself a corner stone fireplace – that might just be able to double as a pizza oven if you want to. Many communities can have restrictions or bans on wood burning, so check out your local laws and research propane, lava rocks, or natural gas elements. Just remember one all-important word: S’Mores.

Rustic Outdoor Living Spaces | Locati Design

6.  Adequate Lighting

Outdoor living is not just for Summer when the days are long. Nor is it only for the daytime. Lighting is one of design’s most critical aspects, yet it is often overlooked. Draping soft string lights from the ceiling can give you the feeling of being in a Tuscan vineyard. A reclaimed wood chandelier and wrought iron fixtures can be masculine and elegant at the same time.

Glass hurricane vases with battery-powered candles can make the space seem wonderfully intimate. But to achieve that evergreen ambiance, add solar-powered path lights and stake them directly into plant containers. They derive their power from the sun during the day and throw brilliant indirect and diffused light at night, with no wires or electricity needed.

Rustic Outdoor Living Spaces | Locati Design
Rustic Outdoor Dining Area | Locati Design

7.  Get Cooking | Rustic Outdoor Design Ideas

We cook more outside than ever, and with the correct planning, your outdoor kitchen can be just as creative and productive as your indoor one. Make a list of everything you want to do: grill, sauté, make pizza, whiz fresh hummus, pop corks, and blend margaritas.

Get the right equipment, make sure you have enough electricity and BTU’s, and carve out space for prep, serving platters, and even freshwater, ice, and wash areas. Just make sure you have a clear path to your indoor kitchen so you can move between the spaces easily with your supplies.

Once you start thinking about dining and bar space and shopping for tables and chairs, check out counter-height or bar-height options so your guests can stand and sit. It’s stylish, comfortable, and able to handle more folks to handle your increased popularity due to your newfound outdoor kitchen mastery.

Rustic Outdoor Seating Area | Locati Design
Rustic Homes Outdoor Areas | Locati Design
Rustic Outdoor Dining Areas | Locati Design
Rustic Homes Outdoor Fireplace Ideas | Locati Design

8.  Soothing Sounds of Water

Outdoor water features greatly enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space, creating a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere that you and your guests can enjoy. They also make a soothing white noise that can help drown out unwanted sounds from nearby traffic or neighbors.

Outdoor Rustic Waterfall Feature

Image 1:  Outdoor Tiered Bowl Fountain
Image 2:  Rockwood Resin Fountain with Light
Image 3: This image shows a grouping I put together with a stone waterfall, a Jasmine plant, and a large faux fiddle leaf tree.

9.  Privacy Screens

Privacy screens are a great addition to any backyard or patio. They provide a sense of seclusion and intimacy, making outdoor spaces feel more like an extension of the home. Privacy screens can also block unwanted views and noise from neighbors, streets, or buildings.

They can create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere where you can unwind and enjoy quiet time alone or with loved ones. Additionally, privacy screens, with various styles, materials, and colors, can add an aesthetic element to your outdoor space. Whether you want a natural look with bamboo or wood, a modern touch with metal or glass, or a colorful vibe with fabric or plants, privacy screens can enhance the beauty and functionality of your backyard or patio.