1. Little nooks and private spaces. Outdoor areas can be big, but I love it when you find space for a little hidden bench or private seating area. Not only does this keep big spaces from getting too big and loosing their sense of scale, but these spaces are ideal for quiet conversations and relaxing with a book.
2. Stick with the same style, colors and materials as the inside of your home. This is a great little trick to making your home feel bigger than it actually is. If the inside floor is tiled, use that same tile or same color and size outside. If you used Earth tones and rustic materials inside, than carry that same feel and materials outside. The key is to decorate the outdoor space as if it is an extension of your interior space.
3. Custom fire pits, outdoor showers and pools. Creating fun spaces that mimic the architecture of your home and include built-in seating, tile work and take advantage of your lot, can make a huge difference in your outside spaces.
4. Mood Lighting. I would argue that this can make or break a great outdoor space. Nothing sets the mood for an evening outdoor dinner party better than some really cool lighting. Go for a big statement piece, a string of white Christmas lights or a funky modern globe that changes color via remote control - they all can set the mood.
5. Water features. These are a must. Whether you go all out on a swimming pool and hot tub or a simple fountain, a water feature instantly adds a sense of peace to any outdoor space. Look for something that follows the architectural style of your home and uses the same materials and colors. Decorative tiles, jets, lights and sun shelves (shallow portions in the pool), are hot trends in pool design. If going with a fountain, go big and use it as a statement piece for the area. You can't go wrong adding water to your outdoor space.