Owning a small house doesn’t mean you can’t live large. If you are fortunate to live in a climate that offers warm weather at least part of the year, turn your attention to the great outdoors to expand your living space. Ann Fiorio, interior designer, ASID of California Contract and Home in Campbell, explains how a few simple decorating tricks can turn your backyard into your favorite “room” of the house.

Don’t be afraid to use lighting. General and ambient lighting in the form of overhead fans, outdoor chandeliers, and outdoor floor lamps work great in outdoor spaces, Fiorio said. Anything on a dimmer switch is a nice touch.

Use color and fabrics to dress up your space. Placing cushions on an outdoor sofa, settee or even a porch swing increases the feeling that your space is a room. Make sure the fabric and/or foam is intended for outdoor use. There are a wide variety of outdoor fabrics traditionally used indoors that have protective finishes, Fiorio said, and are meant to be used outdoors or in a covered room.


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Use unconventional materials. Outdoor art doesn’t only come in plaster or metal finishes any more, Fiorio says. Many online home and garden stores offer painted canvases, sconces and other outdoor art that look like they belong indoors but have durable finishes that can hold up to the elements.

Define your space. An outdoor area rug will anchor the space and give your “room” a perimeter and walls, Fiorio says. Decorative fabric panels anchored in corners give a soft line and a sense of enclosure.

Pull colors from a room adjacent to your backyard. Using colors borrowed from your living room or kitchen makes the entire space feel cohesive, Fiorio says. A unified color palette will make your interior room feel larger and make your outdoor room feel like part of the house.

Kelly Barbazette is a journalist turned stay-at-home mom. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in Gilroy. She also writes for Gilroy Today.