From the June/July 2020 Issue  

Make the Most of Your Outdoor Living Space

Writer Meg Fox

“An outdoor space is not complete without planters filled with beautiful greenery and colorful flowers,” says Farah Merhi, pictured here at the entrance to her family home. As for layering doormats, “Pick a fun pattern you like and layer a smaller coir mat on top of it” to greet guests in style.

Farah Merhi, designer, author, entrepreneur, social media influencer and founder and CEO of Inspire Me! Home Décor, shares inspiration from her own backyard transformation

Summer! That word alone brings so much happiness to my heart. Does it do the same to yours? There is something about summertime that brings a sense of excitement and joy with it. Everywhere you look, you see plush greenery, blooming flowers, trees covered with leaves and backyards covered in lush green grass. It’s the season of children playing in the yard, laughter between neighbors and friends and a wave to the mailman as you walk around your neighborhood. Ah yes, summer! The season of outdoor fun!

If you’re like me and want to take full advantage of your outdoor living space, it’s time to give your backyard a refresh that you’ll love and enjoy! Outdoor living has become an extension of indoor living for many homeowners, with fireplaces and even full-blown kitchens that include a grill, mini fridge, sink, pullout trash and more. And with all the beautiful and durable outdoor furniture, décor and appliances available today, outdoor living has never looked better! Here are tips to help you make the most of your outdoor living space.

Lanterns filled with battery-operated flameless outdoor candles create instant ambience. Photo by David Sparks Photography


Backyard projects don’t bring the same stress level as an indoor remodel, so you have that going for you. How do you get the most out of this makeover? Start by making a list:

Your Budget What are you willing to spend on this project? This will help you narrow down your decision-making to materials and options that are within your comfort zone.

Your Needs Do you want an outdoor kitchen? A fireplace? Bonfire? Dining area? Living area?

The Layout Where would you like the different zones to go? For example, keep the dining area next to your outdoor kitchen. Make sure your outdoor kitchen/outdoor grill is as far away from your home as possible (fire hazard).


When investing money in outdoor furniture, you want it to look good and last for years. Look for companies that offer durablity in their products. I personally have Polywood® furniture in my backyard. Made of recycled milk jugs, Polywood furniture is not only durable through all seasons, but it’s also offered in various designer styles. You can work on easy and cost-friendly updates if you have furniture that will withstand the test of time in style and in durability.

Choose furnishings that withstand the test of time. This all-weather collection from Polywood is durable and not prone to splinter, crack, chip, peel or rot. Photo by David Sparks Photography


Give some thought to your color scheme. Are you wanting your backyard to reflect what’s going on inside your home? Or do you want your backyard to be its own unique space? There is no right or wrong answer. Your home should be a reflection of what you prefer and what will make you happy. If you’ve been holding back from using bold, bright colors indoors, then your backyard could be a perfect place for that. If you’re looking for a more calm, serene atmosphere, then go with softer tones.


Just like indoor furnishings, a living space is not done until all the finishing touches have been added. Think pillows, rugs and accent pieces that will bring your space to life. Start with an outdoor rug, which will anchor or define a space, add a pop of color or visual interest. Choose pillows with outdoor fabrics that will not fade or build up mold from humidity or rain. Mix and match colors and patterns and have fun with it. Consider adding a few more finishing touches such as rattan or wood trays for a layered look.

This fully functioning built-in kitchen comes complete with a grill, mini fridge, sink, pullout trash and more. Photo by David Sparks Photography


Bring indoor comforts outdoors with a gas fireplace that blends seamlessly with the landscape. Photo by David Sparks Photography


Just like indoors, lighting is essential to creating a relaxed and cozy feel in an outdoor space. An electrician or land­scaper can help you choose and install lighting to make outdoor spaces usable after dark and also highlight plants and trees. You can do it yourself with solar lighting or, if you are able, wire the lighting yourself. Lanterns are also a great way to decorate your space and help set the mood to enjoy a cozy evening outdoors. Don’t forget the power of candles! They’re considered decorative lighting in my book.


An outdoor space is not complete without planters filled with beautiful greenery and colorful flowers. Play around with sizes and shapes. Style the planters in groups of two or three for a vignette that looks effortlessly chic!

Accessorize with rattan or wood trays, comfy outdoor throws, small fun planters and more for a layered look. Courtesy of Polywood®