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Design Inspiration: Create An Outdoor Summer Retreat

The sun is shining, and the days and nights are getting hotter. Are you in the summer spirit?! Kate here, and I’m excited to share my latest design project with you. Actually, I’m sharing the entire process with you, from start to finish. Remember my recent post on turning your patio into a stylish outdoor lounge? As I researched this piece, I began dreaming about creating my own outdoor lounging space. The only thing stopping me was my budget. But this weekend, I decided that I would find a way to make my summer relaxation dream a reality–for under $100. [outdoor lounge inspiration from Alan Dunn Landscape Design]

Inspiration for the outdoor lounge Design Inspiration: Create An Outdoor Summer Retreat
Inspiration for the outdoor lounge

I’ve already ordered a few basic supplies, but today I’m searching for a “look”–a little bit of design inspiration for pulling it all together in a way that is clean, modern and serene. Whether you’re planning an outdoor lounge of your own or you’re looking for ways to turn your yard into a tranquil summer retreat, read on for a collection of ideas that will spark your creativity.

Outdoor Lounge Design

As you begin to plan your outdoor retreat, it can be helpful to focus on a look for your space. Will it be modern? Will it be tropical? Maybe “modern tropical”?! You might also consider the style of the items you already own–seating is a great place to start. For example, in order to create the outdoor lounge of my dreams, I knew that affordable seating was key. I wanted something clean-lined and inexpensive, but nothing that looked cheap or skimped on comfort. I was delighted to find the Garden Oasis Hinton Sling Folding Chaise from Kmart, shown below.

Affordable folding chaise lounge Design Inspiration: Create An Outdoor Summer Retreat
Affordable folding chaise lounge

This piece is so basic that it can easily blend with a variety of visual styles, but lately I’ve been truly inspired by clean-lined spaces that convey a sense of relaxation. Call it “low-key modern”. If you’re a fan of A Beautiful Mess, you’ve likely been reading about the bloggers’ recent trip to Costa Rica. Here is an outdoor shot of their rental house. I love the laid-back feel of this space, as well as the tropical touches:

Modern outdoor lounging area in Costa Rica
Modern outdoor lounging area in Costa Rica

Here’s a pic of another modern outdoor space, complete with loungers covered in white fabric, an abundance of plants, and stepping stones surrounded by gravel. The hassle-free modern look that results is both tranquil and interesting. [from Huettl Landscape Architecture]

Modern lounging area with umbrella
Modern lounging area with umbrella

I’ve always loved the classic look of stripes. I also like the idea of using a bolster pillow for extra back support. There’s something very low-maintenance about the Moroccan-style poolside lounge below, yet the use of pattern on pillow and tile creates plenty of visual interest. I just might have to add some patterning to my outdoor lounge area… [from Lonny]

Moroccan-style patio
Moroccan-style patio

Speaking of stripes, these peachy-pink and white striped beach towels are the perfect subtle dose of pattern and color for the lounge area below. While my outdoor retreat won’t include a water feature, I’m getting plenty of ideas from this oasis. The use of neutral tones is irresistible, and the greenery that surrounds the space truly creates a cooling effect. [from Frontgate]

Soothing stripes and natural tones in an outdoor lounge area
Soothing stripes and natural tones in an outdoor lounge area

A Place to Rest Your Drink

As you saw above, the clean-lined look of my upcoming 0utdoor retreat is inspired by the seating I recently purchased. In fact, this post is filled with sleek outdoor seating options. But once you’ve found a place to recline, there are other elements to explore. Where will you rest your refreshing drink, your book and your tablet? A side table is in order! [from Frontgate]

Refreshing lounge chair and side table
Refreshing lounge chair and side table

We know–the structure below is much more than a side table! And yes, we featured this design in a previous post on projects created with cinder blocks. But it’s a great reminder of the amazing configurations that can result when you mix (always affordable) cinder blocks with true creativity. With the bulk of my outdoor lounge budget going to seating, I will need to be super thrifty when it comes to my side table. I’m already working on a brown and gray cinder block creation. I promise to share the results here on Decoist! [from The Horticult]

Cinder block lounge area with lighting
Cinder block lounge area with lighting

In fact, cinder blocks can even be used in your seating endeavors, as shown by this DIY rustic modern bench. Instead of a place to rest your drink, you can create a place to rest the plant of your choice. With merely three cinder blocks, a bit of lumber and a few other supplies, you’ve got a contemporary seating solution with a built-in planter! For a full tutorial, head on over to Jilian Dee.

DIY modern cinder block bench
DIY modern cinder block bench

To Top It All Off…

Speaking of plants, they are one of the essential ingredients for your outdoor summer retreat. And I’m definitely shopping around for ideas! I’m a fan of the Snake Plant (shown in the image above), but then again, I can’t deny the modern, quirky appeal of succulents, shown below. [from Derviss Design]

Succulents surrounding an outdoor lounging area
Succulents surrounding an outdoor lounging area

If you’ve read my recent posts, you know how much I love neutral tones for modern outdoor spaces. But punctuating these natural hues with a bright pop of color is key. I’m currently on the hunt for a turquoise planter than can add some much-needed color to my outdoor retreat. [from Alan Dunn Landscape Design]

Turquoise planters in an outdoor lounge area
Turquoise planters in an outdoor lounge area

Did you notice the umbrellas in today’s post? There’s nothing more loungey than a little shade from the sun! But where I live, the sun isn’t the biggest problem–the mosquitoes are! Peak lounging hours in my part of the world are the early mornings and the evenings/nights. The sun isn’t such a threat at these cooler hours, but this is a key time for those buzzing insects that love to bite. So my lounging area will include a mosquito net. What can I say–I’m not a fan of bug spray!   [from MosquitoCurtains.com]

Mosquito net over a tropical bed
Mosquito net over a tropical bed

My chaise lounge arrives early next week, and that will kick off my little design project. Until then, I’ll be gathering the other ingredients for my outdoor summer retreat and sticking to my budget of less than $100. Can it be done?! I’ll be sharing the results with you soon right here on Decoist. Until then, enjoy some quality summer lounging!

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