More and more families are taking living rooms outside. We can’t call it trending anymore… it has become the norm. Thinking about the words ‘Outdoor Living’ made me curious to find out the first time I ever used it in a blog post. I thought I was pretty clever back then and way ahead of the trend… It was December 21, 2009 – an incredible 9 years ago. Now, ‘outdoor living’ as a catchphrase is no longer trending… it too has become the norm. Undoubtedly, the norm makes sense. Utilizing our homes’ outdoor property as extensions of our indoor living space is practical for all types of people and budgets. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest. We hunger for good weather days and outdoor time.

Outdoor Living Landscape Design


Oregon boasts a diverse variety of landscapes. We have beaches, mountains, deserts, forests…you name it, Oregon has it! By living here in Portland, our homes are smack dab in the middle of these landscapes and therefore can reflect our choice of these themes. There are hundreds of ideas when it comes to taking our living rooms outside.

Most of us have a theme for the inside of our home.  We could easily extend it into the outdoors. A theme can unify your landscape and help guide you when making material and plant selections as shown here in the Reser property (above). Themes can be as simple as using consistent shapes or decor throughout your yard or as complex as creating an entirely distinctive look like the Swigart Property (below). Some popular themes are:

Outdoor Living Landscape Design


American Southwest

English Country

Japanese Zen


Tropical or Semi-Tropical

While Xeriscaping isn’t actually a design style, it is a water wise method of landscaping, and usually referred to as a theme (most often associated with Southwest, or Desert landscape designs). Xeriscape principles can be applied to almost all landscape design styles to help preserve natural resources.


The next consideration is your focal-point Wood Structure. You may want to base this choice on personal and family needs and your own personality.

Do you like getting out into the landscape?

Do you need to play it closer to the backdoor?

How many adults versus kids in the family dynamics?

What are your children’s ages, the size of your social group, and the lifestyle of your family?

What size is your property and what type of investment are you thinking about making?

These are all important factors in deciding your outdoor wood structure.

Micah Dennis, CEO - Paradise Restored Landscaping

Micah Dennis, Paradise Restored’s owner is an expert in assisting homeowners with this part of the process. If I’ve been blogging about outdoor living spaces for over nine years, he’s been building them for many more. Over time we get a feel for it, but  in Micah’s case, he’s always had that artist’s eye for outdoor spaces.



Outdoor Living Rooms

Outdoor Living Design

Do you dream of a detached outdoor living room under a gazebo with grand fireplace? In this living room that’s exactly what is shown. It also has a pergola-type awning over the kitchen bar area which is attached to the home. The living room is complete with fireplace wall, TV, and seat walls that run the length of the gazebo adding plenty of seats when entertaining. Also, the theme is carried throughout the landscape and is consistent with the indoor structure. Pop into this entire property to get a feel for how the living room, kitchen bar, counter space and top-of-the-line appliances are set up. We know you will get plenty of ideas:  Bissell Property

Outdoor Living Landscape Design     Outdoor Living Landscape Design

Below shows a different technique with an attached outdoor living room. The doorway, a quick jaunt from the indoor kitchen and garage, makes easy access into the room. With sky lights and ambient lighting, the impressive custom woodwork on the ceiling is a work of art.  This outdoor room feels like home. It’s comfy, spacious, and inviting. Take a tour of the Newcombe property.

Outdoor Living Landscape Design

The above examples are on a grand scale. Both families have young kids who will grow up in these outdoor living rooms just as if they are another room in the house. There are many shapes and sizes of outdoor living rooms and each are as unique as the homeowners who collaborate with designers to plan them.

More Outdoor Living Rooms to Consider

But, that’s not all! Okay, you’ve chosen your theme and decided on your custom wood structure . . .  What about :


Pavers are a flat stone used to create any surface area in your landscape. You can use them to create your outdoor living room floor, a driveway, or a walkway. As there are hundreds of varieties of colors and patterns of paver stones, every paver creation is  unique. Properly installed pavers won’t crack, sag, shift, or separate. It will continue looking magnificent for generations, and if it ever becomes stained or marred by paint or oil it can be repaired quickly, easily and invisibly. Individual pavers can be replaced with matching ones so that the surface looks exactly as first installed.

Schmidt_Property_005done_1RETAINING WALLS:

Portland’s rolling hills add to the unique beauty of our area. However, when those rolling hills end up in your landscape, it is difficult to find the beauty. A solid retaining wall eliminates slope in your yard and provides you with a level surface on which to enjoy your outdoor living room. There are various kinds of materials to choose from when it comes to retaining walls. Natural stone is by far the most visually appealing. And within that medium, there are assorted styles. Dry set rock wall, mortared stone wall, thin split rock wall, “A” split rock wall, and many more. With natural stone retaining walls the color and texture options are almost endless. Other retaining wall options include brick, concrete, concrete block, or even a blend of two for strength and beauty.


Decks offer you a venue on which to enjoy your landscape. You can choose either a wood deck or composite decking. Wood decking is a bit more economical, where composite decking will take less maintenance over the years. A properly built and well designed deck offers a focal point and gives direction to any landscape.

Notice the Hayden Island Property has hardscape pavers, retaining walls, custom wood deck, and wood steps with planter boxes. Do you see the established traffic patterns? You can do this in a variety of ways, including laying formal walkways, creating shifts in hardscape materials, or planting shrubs or trees to establish corners and borders.  By the way, the firepit with seat walls in this design is especially unique . . . take a quick look through the design.

No matter the Size of your Property

Taking your living room outside will add value and a positive change in your lifestyle. We hope this post has provided the ideas and inspiration you’ll need to tackle that project you’ve always wanted for your home exterior. If you need a motivational push in the right direction: Please contact us for a Complimentary Consultation @

Join us for Taking Living Rooms Outside – Part Two and as always, thanks for stopping by,

Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design

Kim Thibodeau

Exterior Design Services




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