Making an outdoor space an enticing, relaxing and soothing retreat requires a few basic design techniques. Many involve lighting, which sets the tone for outdoor living ambiance.

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After months of being cooped up inside, warmer weather invites outdoor living on decks, porches and patios. Making an outdoor space an enticing, relaxing and soothing retreat requires a few basic design techniques. Many involve lighting, which sets the tone for outdoor living ambiance.

Country Living in March shared “dreamy ways” to use lighting outdoors:


— Drape string lights across and through plants and bushes; hang them from a wall, fence or railing; bunch them in a see-through bucket or planter. Many lights in a bed of ivy will make a space glow.

— Take a cue from outdoor French café vignettes, for example, and make a sort of awning over a seating area by running string lights back and forth from existing or free-standing poles, or from the corners of a pergola.

— Wrap lights around trees.

— Make DIY rustic chandeliers with grapevine balls (available at craft stores), white lights and twine, and hang in a corner or over a seating area.

— Secure rope lights along a garden border for a soft glow.

To avoid having an unsightly cord to plug in, consider individual or strings of solar-powered lights; they are available in all styles from modern to mission and either hang or adhere. And, of course, candles, candles and more candles are the ultimate in calming illumination. Flameless candles are a safe choice.

Smells are important as well. Plant herbs such as lavender, mint, lemon verbena and thyme in pots or in a garden close to the outdoor living space.

Choose outdoor-durable textiles and rugs in comforting hues. House Beautiful last May showed off such upholstery fabrics as Sunbrella’s “Sailcloth Salt” and “Cilantro” and Perennial’s cornflower blue cushions. Soft, subtle colors tend to elicit a restful response.

Keep accessorization to a minimum, perhaps a vase filled with fresh-picked flowers and squishy, soft decorative pillows of varying depths and sizes.

Finally, if doable for the space, a swing, swinging chair or swinging bed is the ultimate lure to an outdoor space. Just make sure it is wide and deep enough to curl up on and in.