Create a Traditional Outdoor Space

If you think traditional means old-fashioned and stodgy – think again.

Although traditional design still includes an understated elegance with graceful lines, the new traditional outdoor space incorporates warmth, classic comfort, as well as a bit of fun, freshness, and playfulness. “Traditional” is a broad term that can include many different styles. Specific themes such as Classic, Colonial, and Cape Cod are all considered traditional outdoor spaces. You can even mix pieces from different eras and design styles for an updated look.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few style tips to achieve a traditional, classic look for your patio or deck:

Avalon Northwest Landscape
Avalon Northwest Landscape

If you’re starting from scratch, choose classic hardscape material like cobblestone pavers, natural stone or brick in a traditional basket weave, herringbone or circular pattern. These materials will transport you back to yesteryear when traditional elegance was paramount.

A pergola, which soared in popularity during the Renaissance period, with climbing vines will give your outdoor space a timeless feel. Or add a retractable shade or outdoor curtains in a traditional striped pattern or classic white for instant sophistication.

Consider a beautiful rustic stone, stucco, or brick fireplace for both warmth and a refined look. A traditional Victorian tiered or Grecian fountain or the carved face of a lion on a wall spouting water offers an Old World European flavor.

Keep in mind that traditional gardens are formal in design, with symmetrical, geometric beds, topiaries, and garden “rooms” defined by hedges and walls. Climbing roses, honeysuckle, and lavender will provide a classic look along with wonderful aromas.

Traditional Outdoor Style
Allison Ramsey Architects

The right furniture will define your outdoor space and set the tone for the classic look you want to convey. Traditional furnishings will always be sophisticated, but there’s room in today’s interpretation to mix period styles or inject a modern element that complements your personality. Today’s traditional outdoor furniture reflects these changes and offers a less formal and more relaxed approach offering comfort as well as style.

Choose large, simple, and sturdy furniture in classic materials like teak or wicker that never go out of style. Detailed iron wrought furniture with its classic gentle curving details accentuated by comfortable cushions in traditional color schemes is another option. Luxurious and comfortable all-weather upholstered sofas, chairs, sectionals, and conversations sets that mimic traditional furniture found in living rooms are becoming more popular. Classic Adirondack chairs can give an outdoor space a traditional Cape Cod feel.

When choosing outdoor fabric for furniture cushions, traditional color schemes can be subdued neutrals such as a gray, beige, navy, or white or you can try less formal, saturated color palettes as long as hues remain sophisticated. Stripes and geometric patterns, as well as neutral fabrics with smaller scale patterns in soft contrasting colors will lend a classic look. However, save the bold and bright colors and patterns for accessories where you can express your personality but change styles easily in the future.

Classic and traditional style doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to strictly match, but keeping a uniform look will give your outdoor living space a fresh, pulled-together feeling.

Traditional Outdoor Style
Lauren Nicole Designs

Traditional outdoor living accessories should combine style and function seamlessly. Wooden trays can be placed on a cushioned ottoman to be used as a chic coffee table. Galvanized buckets and bins bring rustic flair, but can also hold drinks when filled with ice. Smart, stylish all-weather baskets can provide much-needed storage.

Don’t forget to add an elegant outdoor rug, outdoor curtains, and romantic lighting with a sophisticated outdoor chandelier or lanterns. Large classic earthenware in a mix of shapes and sizes can create a unified classic look for colorful plantings. Throw pillows can be used to add a punch of bold and bright color or to infuse current, fresh trends like art deco-like patterns or ethnic tribal themes.

Look for elegant serving pieces, glassware, and other supplies in coordinating colors. After all, it’s the small touches that create a complete, enjoyable outdoor retreat.

Add some of these traditional elements to your outdoor space and you will have a classic, elegant patio or deck for entertaining and relaxing that is both comfortable and stylish.