May is here! It’s time to think about outdoor dining and entertaining. Creating an inviting and comfortable outdoor space doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You just need some basic furniture (and there are many options), plus a few finishing details. Here are some examples . . .

We created this outdoor room in Mill Valley — notice the mix of potted plants, pillows and other accessories.

On a more modest scale, this lovely yet simple set-up is from the backyard of our most recent Style to Sell house. It features Appalaro outdoor furniture from Ikea ($139 for the drop-leaf table, $34.99 for the folding chair, and $89.99 for the bench). It’s a nice set, but what really makes it feel like a “room” are three important details:

The rug — A rug grounds the ensemble, just as it does in your indoor living room. Be sure to buy one made specifically for outdoors. We love the rugs from MadMats, but there are many other options available online and at your local hardware store.

Pillows — They add personality and comfort. Choose some fun contrasting colors as we’ve done here. A good source for outdoor pillows is Home Decorators Collection.

A centerpiece — Fill the middle of your table with a vase of flowers, a tray holding a pitcher of margaritas, or outdoor lanterns. Sometimes candles can melt if they’re left in the sun, so here we substituted with some cute little cactus. (Cactus and lanterns also from Ikea!)

Of course, it’s fun to fantasize about luxurious outdoor rooms too. Here are some spaces we’ve been admiring lately on Pinterest:

(via houseOMG!)

Luckily for most of us (who don’t have properties like these), you can enjoy whatever space you have — your backyard, patio, or even your tiny terrace. Just set out a chair, grab a cold drink and feel the sun on your face.

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