Research has shown that spending time outdoors is good for us. It provides a break from the stresses of everyday life and has even been shown to boost energy and increase creativity. Being outside generally makes us feel good! And you don’t even need to leave home to experience these positive benefits if you create an inviting and comfortable outdoor area to spend time in. No matter what the season, you’ll want to spend much more time outdoors with these creative and beautiful patio ideas.

A fire pit adds so much more than warmth to an outdoor space, although that’s a good enough reason to incorporate one into your design. They also look fantastic year-round whether they’re in use or not. When lit, the fire provides a glowing ambient light as well as a cozy spot to roast marshmallows. But in the warmer months, you can also add a floral display or candles to keep things looking fresh and inviting.

[From: Lloyd Fleischer]

This fire pit is practical for backyard patios in just about any climate. The gravel ground covering lends a rustic quality that makes you feel like you’re far removed from civilization even though there’s a cozy outbuilding just steps away.

[From: JWT Associates]

For a sleeker, more modern look, a built-in concrete fire pit adds an air of sophistication. This poolside seating area can be used during every season. The grasses, potted plants, and colorful floral arrangement on the table keep the gray concrete from looking too drab or impersonal.

[From: Outdoors Solutions Group]

Although this spacious stone patio area with its large built-in firepit would be delightful any time of year, the red and yellow autumnal arrangements here add a warm touch.

What’s not to love about an outdoor bar? Whether you’re serving alcohol or lemonade, having refreshments at your fingertips makes outdoor entertaining a breeze. Plus, it saves you from the hassle of making multiple trips indoors for refills.

[From: Hayneedle]

A bar cart is a perfect way for city-dwellers with small patios or balconies to entertain outdoors. This wicker model from Hayneedle is a good option for a patio with a tropical theme, and the potted plants and outdoor furniture surrounding the dining area complement the look.

[From: Summers of Sussex]

For a more permanent solution, a built-in bar/dining area is a good way to incorporate the outdoors into your everyday life. This cozy bar/kitchen features a grill and an intimate seating area.

One of the most dramatic, yet cheapest and easiest, ways to spruce up your patio is with outdoor lighting. Strand lighting makes a huge impact on any deck or patio, lending a warm and festive touch.

[From: Landscape Lighting Guru]

This is a relatively simple outdoor space, yet the strand lighting provides a celebratory and welcoming look.

[From: MLC Group]

Strands of lights can easily be draped over a trellis or other structure to lend a more intimate feel to a patio or other outdoor space. This small dining area has a romantic ambiance, thanks to the single string of lights and two lanterns on the table.

Perhaps the ultimate way to get plenty of “outdoor time” if you live somewhere that’s not necessarily comfortable year-round is by using “invisible” screens or doors that make it feel as though you’re outside when you’re not. This is a more costly option but a practical one for people who love the seamless look that these types of glass doors provide.

[From: Nathan Burkett Design / Oak Landscapes / Anston Architectural]

Here is an elaborate example of bringing the outdoors inside with a door that disappears when it’s open. Although these are separate rooms, it feels like one big space combining a comfortable living area with a spacious dining table and chairs. Another seating area in the background encourages guests to linger outdoors on a nice spring evening.

[From: Minnesota Screens]

Talk about year-round living! This residence features an indoor/outdoor space that can be closed off completely from the elements if needed but left open for those beautiful warm summer evenings.

No matter what your style or budget, you can transform your own patio or backyard into a space where you can spend enjoyable quality time outdoors.

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