With spring right around the corner, now is the perfect time to transform your patio into an outdoor space that feels like and functions as an extension of your home. Turning outdoor patios and decks into friendly and welcoming “outdoor rooms” is easy to achieve with these ten items.

Create The Vacation Rental Patio Of Your Dreams With These 10 Essentials

1. Seating

If you add nothing else to your patio or deck, seating is the one thing you must have. Lounge chairs give your patio a relaxing, spa-like feel, while a grouping of armchairs can be pulled together to form a conversation area perfect for entertaining. Adding cushions or upholstered furniture adds unexpected comfort and color and helps to define your patio’s style.

2. Lighting

Source: The Kim Six Fix

Outdoor lights turn a patio or porch into a true living space that can be used both day and night. String lights, outdoor pendants and even candles or tiki torches can create an ambiance that is perfect for entertaining and relaxing. Emphasize your favorite backyard elements with landscaping and walkway lighting. Not only are they a beautiful accent, but they also improve safety.

3. Dining Area

Few things bring people together the way a good meal does. Dining outside is a wonderful way to entertain guests or spend a late summer afternoon with your family. Having a large table on your patio designates a dining area and instantly makes the space more useable. If your outdoor area is limited, consider a small bistro table instead.

4. Shade

In the summer months, it’s nice to find some relief from the sun when spending time outdoors. A sun umbrella or two, or even the addition of a pergola or awning, can make even the hottest space more comfortable. Shade will also reduce the sun’s glare, so you can sit under the umbrella and play cards or work on your computer without straining your eyes.

5. Heat

Even in the warmer months, it can be rather chilly after the sun goes down. Try using outdoor heaters, either electric or propane, to provide ample and adjustable heat and allow for extended use of your patio. Installing a fire pit not only adds heat and light to your patio, but it also instantly creates a conversation space.

6. Outdoor Kitchen or Cooking Area

Be it as simple as a portable grill or as decadent as a full-on outdoor kitchen, having a place to prep and cook food immediately transforms your patio into a functional room. An al fresco cooking area is great for entertaining, as you don’t have to leave your guests and head back indoors to prepare food.

7. Landscaping

When decorating a patio or any other outdoor area, you should embrace the natural elements that are already there. Flowers, shrubs and other vegetation, whether planted directly in the ground or in standalone planters, can bring color and life to the space. Hedges or vertical gardens can work to define one area from the rest of the yard, and climbing vines can be trained to form an overhead cover, which can offer protection from the sun.

8. Sound

If your home is out in the county or a good distance from your neighbors, you may already be able to enjoy the peaceful soundtrack of nature. However, if your home is in a more urban or suburban setting, you may want to cancel out the background noise around you. The addition of outdoor speakers or even a water feature can create a serene ambiance you wouldn’t get with the typical rumble of traffic. A simple trickling fountain can take you out of the suburbs and give the feel of being next to a mountain stream, right in your own backyard.

9. Storage

Since outdoor spaces don’t come with closets, you have to think outside (or perhaps inside) the box when it comes to storage. Deck boxes that convert to seating are a convenient option to stash kids’ toys or outdoor accessories. Stash any lawn and garden equipment in a large shed.

10. Decorative Accents

Even though it may not be a true room, your outdoor space should still reflect your home’s style. Decorating accessories such as throw pillows, seat cushions and upholstery fabric as well as serving pieces, lanterns and dinnerware all convey your personality. Choose accents that you love, and your space will automatically become more welcoming.

Creating a functional and livable outdoor space is not much different than creating an indoor one. When deciding what you need for your deck or patio, focus on how you want to use the space and what it takes to make it comfortable and welcoming.

As a home improvement blogger, Kim Six is constantly figuring out ways to improve her home, and writes about her ideas for The Home Depot. From updating your patio to creating new planters, Kim provides helpful pointers to her readers. To find some of the patio furniture options that are mentioned in this article, visit The Home Depot.