12 Outdoor Decorating Trends To Try In 2023 , According To Interior Designers

By Hallie Milstein
Hallie Milstein
12 Outdoor Decorating Trends For 2023

Southern summers are often spent rotating from one outdoor space to the next. Start the morning off on the porch with a tall, icy glass of sweet tea, then meander over to a rocking chair, and end the evening by the grill. Then take it from the top the next day. However, if you’re going to brave the intense heat and humidity to pass hours outside, then your outdoor areas better be up to the task. Porches, patios, yards, lawns, and gardens all have to be in tip-top shape to host you all summer long. In 2023, interior designers are accepting the challenge and making the most of Southern homes’ outdoor spaces, preparing for a long summer of al-fresco lounging and entertaining outside. Here are a dozen outdoor decorating trends that interior designers recommend trying this year.

Natural textures

Carmel Brantley; Design By Caitlin Kah

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Outdoor Rooms

Outdoor Rooms

Truitt Photographics; Design by Melissa Gerstle Design

Multiple seating areas are all the rage in 2023 to maximize the backyard. It’s not about being able to accommodate the largest number of people— though that’s certainly a perk. Instead, each space has a different purpose.

“Just like the house has different rooms, we are creating outdoor rooms by making specific seating areas,” explains landscape designer Melissa Gerstle

In practice, this means designating areas for different functions that apply to your life. A dining area and another spot just for cocktail hour will suit eager outdoor entertainers, while others may also want a reading nook right in the middle of the garden. More seating around a fire or just for conversation are more examples of opportunities to utilize the best in stylish outdoor furniture.

“Carving out distinct moments really maximizes the usability of your outdoor space,” agrees interior designer Bradley Odom. “When creating separate areas, it’s important to have some level of privacy between them. Even if you don’t have a ton of outdoor space, utilizing outdoor room dividers can be a great option, especially if covered in climbing vines.”

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Outdoor Kitchens

2021 Idea House Outdoor Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn

According to Gerstle and Odom, one outdoor “room” in particular that people are really loving, is one that they can cook in all season. Cook your meal on the grill in your outdoor kitchen, then serve it up right there in your outdoor dining area. These kitchens are designed not only with function in mind, but socializing too. In the past, Gerstle reveals that people have hidden their grills away, but an outdoor kitchen provides an opportunity to embrace this staple for hosting cookouts and barbecues. 

“A lot of times, when planning an outdoor kitchen, people want to hide the grill or put it on the side of the house because they think it’s unsightly,” Gerstle says. “While I don’t always want to see a straight-on view of the grill, I do still want to make it convenient for the chef to socialize with others outside. I never want to banish the chef somewhere far away from the party.”

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Indoor-Outdoor Spaces

indoor-outdoor living

Katie Nixon Photography

On trend this season: air conditioning. Southern summers aren’t for the faint of heart, and many people are choosing to embrace the beauty of the season without the full force of mother nature. Spaces that dance the line between being indoors and out are the solution to easy, breezy summer living.

“Sunrooms, covered porches, and enclosed patios allow you to enjoy the outdoors without being subjected to harsh direct sunlight,” explains interior designer Caitlin Wilson

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Decorating As An Extension Of Interiors

Creative spaces

Sarah Dorio; Design by Bradley Odom

“The outdoors should be an extension of indoor living, reveals designer Caitlin Kah. “I like to tie the spaces together with familiar colors, finishes, and textures.”

Even if you’re not working with a hybrid indoor-outdoor room, your outdoor set-up is just another part of your overall home design. Just like you wouldn’t design a living room that completely clashes with your kitchen, you shouldn’t totally change styles with the decor right outside your home’s walls. When you look out the window from inside the home, your view shouldn’t be completely counterintuitive from the inside. Instead, the lines between inside and out should be pleasantly blurred by common design cues.

“It’s really important for the house to feel holistically like one property and one thought process,” Gerstle agrees. 

05 of 12

Curved Furniture Silhouettes

Curved furniture

Stephen Karlisch; Design By Melissa Gerstle Deisgn

This trend is one that spawned from taking indoor styles through the door to the backyard. The influx of curved furniture, Odom tells us, originates from the trend of organic modern style that has become popular for interiors. Now, this style is increasing in popularity beyond walls, too.

“We’re using a curved outdoor sofa in a new project that references the organic modern trend we’ve been seeing,” Odom says. “We’ve used curved sofas on many interiors but it’s our first time bringing it outdoors—it really makes it feel like another room in the home.”

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Bright Tablescapes

Bright tablescape

Katie Nixon Photography; Design by Caitlin Wilson

With beautiful outdoor spaces comes the possibility of gorgeous entertaining. Complement your al fresco set-up with a stunning tablescape and have extra pretty table settings at the ready for every type of outdoor party. Wilson recommends colorful glassware and table linens, and while Kah seconds the vibrant linens, she also endorses investing in lovely napkin rings and melamine place settings to elevate any outdoor party space.

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Simple Furniture With Bold Fabrics

SImple furniture with bold fabrics

Katie Nixon Photography; Design by Caitlin Wilson

Because it is the nature of trends to cycle in and out of popularity, Gerstle recommends sticking to timeliness neutrals when it comes to furniture. The place to have fun with trendy colors is in the accessories. Throw pillows are a great way to embrace popular colors and patterns because they can be replaced without huge inconvenience or financial burden if the ones you chose become outdated. If you’re hearing Gerstle’s advice too late and have already grown discontent with then-trendy furniture you bought a few seasons ago, Kah has a solution. 

“A simple trick to revitalize your outdoor space is to reupholster the pieces you already own,” she says, recommending choices from a new wave of sturdy outdoor fabrics. “Recently, the performance fabric industry has exploded, and we have seen exceptional brands such as SchumacherCowtan & Tout, and Scalamandre branch off into the outdoor fabric market.”

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Container Gardens

Container garden

Stephen Karlisch; Design by Melissa Gerstle Design

Plant containers have always been close to our hearts, but Gerstle says that they’re becoming even more popular. Similar to furniture, however, she warns those who hop on this trend not to buy uber-stylish vessels. Nice containers are an investment she says, and you don’t want to be in a position where you have to replace them for next summer. Instead, Gerstle says, to choose timeless pots and fill them based on what’s popular. Flowers are a great way to incorporate colors to match your trendy throw pillows.

09 of 12

Creative Spaces

Creative outdoor space

Melissa Gerstle Design

In homes across the South, 2023 is a year bursting with color. Formerly all-white rooms have fallen out in favor of bursts of bright color to spice up life at home. The same goes for outdoor spaces where Gerstle reports that homeowners are thinking outside the box and “taking more risks” at increased rates when it comes to color, fabric, and design. One client, she says, even went so far as to give her backyard the powder bath treatment.

“People will sometimes go a little bit riskier in the powder bath,” Gerstle says, alluding to funky wallpapers and vibrant color schemes frequently seen in small half baths. “With this particular client, we actually made the whole pool completely break every aspect of the house and we just got very playful with it.”

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Fire Pits And Places

Firepit

Stephen Karlisch; Design by Melissa Gerstle Design

“Fire pits and fireplaces are huge,” says Gerstle. “We always have them.” 

Even in the dog days of summer, there’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire. Roasting marshmallows is mandatory, or course. An outdoor fire pit or fireplace also provides opportunity for lots of lovely seating. Find inspiration for yours here.

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Front Yard Fanfare

House Plan 1825 Porch Exterior
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Gerstle also reveals that the outdoor fireplace trend extends to the front of the home—a spot that’s seeing a lot more attention this year overall. In 2023, front lawns are for more than manicured grass and maybe a shrub or two, but also open grounds for lounging and entertaining.

“I’ve been doing more fireplaces on the front of the home now than I ever used to, and sitting spaces in the front yard, too,” says Gerstle, explaining that the front yard is more visible and accessible to impromptu entertaining. “People are more social and they want to interact more with their neighbors.”

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Natural Textures

Natural materials

Carmel Brantley; Design By Caitlin Kah

The next trend booming in 2023 is using natural materials for furniture and decor that further reflect the beauty of your outdoor space. Designers just can’t get enough of wicker, wood, and rattan right now, all of which lend themselves to an inviting outdoor retreat.

“Pieces that feature hand-woven rattan or caning are versatile yet timeless,” says Wilson. “I tend to avoid using stainless steel and metal furniture and instead opt for natural finishes for more warmth and comfort.”

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