The Best Outdoor Design Trends for 2018


About a month ago, we published an article on the Best Interior Design Trends for 2018, where we talked about such emerging (and re-emerging) decor trends as spa bathrooms, neutral colors, and statement ceilings.

But decorating your home isn’t only a matter of getting the interior just right—for a complete and curated home design, you’ll also want your outdoor spaces to be beautiful and complement the overall feel and décor of your indoor living space.

This can take a lot of planning, but the results of an outdoor design that is well thought-out and curated can be stunning, tasteful, and functional all at once. Here we’ll take you through a look at which outdoor design options are most trending for 2018, and give you a look into what trends may be most popular for 2019.

outdoor design trends

via Trendir

An Industrial Appeal

Over the last few years, there’s been a huge a shift toward more industrial looks in patio furniture and decor. While materials like outdoor wicker and textilene sling used to be incredibly popular with patio furniture (and both are still an excellent choice for many, depending of course on your tastes and style), wicker and sling have declined in popularity – losing popularity to such materials as cast aluminum and all-wood teak. These tough, rugged, and hearty materials exude more of a “log cabin” vibe than a “seaside cottage” one, but as we see urban and natural environments blending together more and more in our interiors, so to are our exteriors trying to find that perfect balance between industrial and natural.

The final product can be pretty stunning – as cute as wicker furniture is in a garden, there’s something that’s just a little more impactful about heavy raw wood and all-weather metal accents on a lush outdoor space. Perfect for very green backyards, gardens, and patios, or xeriscaped lawns. Not as great for poolsides, sandy areas, or bright and happy flower gardens.

This industrial look extends to all other facets of outdoor decor as well: all-metal Chimineas and sleek standing space heaters are increasingly taking the place of in-ground fire pits, and industrial-style string lights are favored over fairy lights, orb lights, and wall-mounted porch lights, and tiki torches. You can check out a decent collection of industrial string lights at Wayfair.

Let’s break down some of these material trends too, as the material you choose for your patio furniture tends to set the tone for the rest of your outdoor design, much like the way your indoor furniture choices set a tone for your interior:

outdoor design trends

via JDS Outdoor Designs

Cast Aluminum Furniture Is on the Rise

Cast aluminum is a much more popular material in 2018 than its cousins, extruded aluminum and wrought iron, which were favorites in previous years. Cast aluminum furniture is hardy in the rain, hot sun, and other adverse weather conditions, and can bring a modern feel to any outdoor space. It comes in a variety of colors, from a bronze-brushed finish to slate gray, and everything in-between, including brighter colors like a pine green—all depending on the finish. Cast aluminum is created by being poured into a hot mold, which means that it can take on all kinds of shapes, details, and textures

The key is coordination—if you are going for cast aluminum, you’ll probably want all of your outdoor furniture to fit into this category. The same goes for all-wood teak furniture. Continuity will make this place of relaxation and entertainment more pleasing to the eye, and more enjoyable, too. You can obtain a wrought iron look in your furniture with ornate shapes, or you may opt for more sleek and modern lines.

Cast aluminum is both sturdy and lightweight, making it feel solid and durable while being easy to move. Another practicality is that it does not rust, unlike other types of metal, giving it a longer life and eliminating the risk of rust from staining your patio.

outdoor design trends

via Design Trends

All-Wood Teak Furniture Holding Steady

Wood not only indoors, but also outdoors? Yes, it’s possible! Teak is a tropical wood that holds up well in the weather. Its natural oils and tight grain that have made it a popular boat material for thousands of years also make it resistant to mold, rot, and pests such as termites. And while it’s been a mainstay in outdoor decor for a while now, teak is seemingly more popular than ever.

While the sun does tend to bleach the finish and bring out natural silver and gray hues, you can either welcome this as a rustic, seaside look; or you can finish your teak furniture with varnish from time-to-time to match your other décor. Teak’s natural color and patterns are beautiful, but perhaps you are looking for a darker tone. You can find all variety of finishes in various hues online or at your local hardware store.

Teak can last for decades, making it an investment that will serve you for many years to come. In addition, it is easy to clean and care for. Simply wipe it down with a wood-friendly cleaner, and you are set to go. Teak is beautiful in all settings and can make any outdoor space feel as cozy as your indoor area.

outdoor design trends

via amazingbackyardscapes

Wicker – Not as Hot as it Used to Be

Still in love with outdoor wicker? That’s great! We’ve noticed a shift away from darker wickers to lighter wickers in 2018. In the early 2010’s, everyone was all about dark brown or black resin wickers. But lighter colors are taking off in 2018 and look to be a hit in 2019 as well! Lighter wicker brings a modern flair to any outdoor area. Although we mentioned that wicker is generally on the decline, it is still a tried-and-true classic that is sure to please visually while still being incredibly practical.

It should also be noted that when we say “wicker,” we are not talking about natural rattan, which absolutely shreds to pieces after excess exposure to rain and sun. We are talking about “resin” or “synthetic” all-weather wicker, a polymer material that became the de facto standard in luxury outdoor furniture design in the early 2000’s due to its incredible durability, while still maintaining a natural look. Don’t confuse this with PVC wicker, which should be avoided at all costs.

Typically outdoor wicker furniture has an aluminum base to strengthen its base and increase its load capabilities. Outdoor wicker can withstand the elements and does just fine in the rain and the sun. Indeed, you can expect to enjoy your wicker investment for years.

Wicker is easily moved because it is lightweight, making it a no-hassle option for rearrangement of seating areas depending on what you are using your outdoor space for on any given day or evening. Whether you are having a romantic dinner for two, a barbecue with the family, or entertaining guests, it will be easy to move your seating arrangements to accommodate any activity.

We recommend experimenting with cushions and finding inspiration online to find a bright, modern pattern that compliments the hues of your wicker, and perhaps even your garden or indoor space. Now let’s take a closer look at colors.

outdoor design trends


Brighten Up Your Outdoor Space with More Color

While we mentioned in our interior design trends blog post that earthy neutral tones are growing more popular in indoor spaces, we noticed the opposite outside: more and more people are favoring brighter and louder colors for fabrics and umbrellas on their patios. Here is another great opportunity to look for inspiration online in social media platforms and on design sites. Whether choosing cushions for your chairs and couches, colorful umbrellas, or throw pillows, bringing in a splash of color will add some flare to any outdoor space. Welcome your guests with bright colors and create a friendly atmosphere with a colorful palette.

The contrast is interesting, especially if you like a cohesive indoor and outdoor design: is it possible to marry neutral tones indoors, and bright colors outdoors? It definitely is, if you use the bright and poppy colors as accent pieces. So for example, the frames of most umbrellas and furnishings, as well as fire pits and pots or raised flower beds, tend to be neutral and earthy. Cushions tend to be more on the neutral side as well, with some exceptions. But what about throw pillows? What about the umbrella fabric? These can be made bright and on-trend, without creating a huge contrast between your indoors and outdoors – just enough contrast to give them a little personality! Go for “statement pieces” with your bright colors.

Generally, in terms of “psychology,” neutral tones supposedly connote quality and dependability, and a “down to earth” vibe. Bright colors, on the other hand, are cheery and happy and active. So the transition from neutral to bright is interesting – are we getting more interested in having “happy” spaces in our home rather than “down to earth” ones? Whatever the underlying reasons, bright colors are completely IN this year and look to continue into 2019.

outdoor design trends

via ?

“Double Duty” Furniture

We’ve also been keeping an eye on a growing interest in “double duty” furniture that works outdoors just as well as indoors, and vice versa. Consider versatile pieces that have a boho-chic or mid-century look to them, but are fine out in the rain as well as the living room.

For the bohemian at heart, boho-chic furniture can bring an artistic, whimsical, yet sophisticated and welcoming space to the living room or the patio. A simple search for “boho-chic furniture” is sure to inspire.

And for the more classic at heart, mid-century furniture can bring linear, svelte lines and contours to a space while still seeming modern. Mid-century looks are making a comeback, and it’s clear why—sophisticated, beautiful, and practical, mid-century furniture never goes out of style!

outdoor design trends

via West Elm

Final Thoughts

If you are looking to impress friends and family with your outdoor design, it’s important that you plan carefully. While you should always stick to a budget, remember that your décor is also an investment—you don’t want to opt for low quality that will continually degrade and require replacement.

For inspiration, we recommend Patio Productions, where you can find a wide range of patio furniture. They exclusively work with high quality, long-lasting pieces, so when you’re ready to buy, they’re a good place to go if you want to purchase furniture for the long haul. Also, as always, check out Pinterest and Google for ideas. Visual boards are a great way to discover accent pieces that will complement your choice in furniture.

We are keeping an eye on modern designs trending in 2018, and we hope that these ideas inspire and inform. If you follow these guidelines and add a personal touch, your design is sure to leave an impression on all who visit, as well as make your private time outdoors more enjoyable. Be creative, and take pride in the work you have done. Above all, have fun—this is a chance to let your personality shine through in your new furniture choices!

Thanks to Patio Products for consulting with us!


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