Sofa and plant on an outdoor patio in the summer.

Design Tips to Create Your Own Patio Oasis

Jun 29 2021

With the large-scale movement toward remote work in the last year, and a new appreciation for good ventilation, outdoor living spaces are trending in a big way.

To get some insider tips, we chatted with designer and travel manager Nina Millan about her experience designing her own outdoor space to collect her thoughts, work from home, and enjoy with her family.

“I call it my ‘patio oasis’ because it really is my oasis,” Millan says. “This space feels like my own little world.”

Looking to create your own? You don’t need to break the bank … or be a professional designer:


Nina Millan

Designer and travel manager Nina Millan

Do some research and budget accordingly. Think about how you want to use the space.

Will you be working remotely while enjoying some fresh air? Do you need a spot for the kids to hang out? Or somewhere for your plant babies to grow?

Millan got her inspiration from Black Woman Who Love Outdoor Living Spaces, a Facebook group launched by Tara L. Paige, CEO of design brand The Patio Chic.

Define the space

Patio Oasis 1

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitation,” filmmaker Orson Welles once said.

In other words, sometimes adding some boundaries and constraints helps with creativity. With this idea in mind, determine the shape and size of your outdoor area.

Millan did so with a pergola, which also added privacy.

Design around a focal point

Patio Oasis 2

When you’re ready to add décor, pick your big pieces first. Millan recommends starting with your main focal points, like a rug or patio seating.

“It really helps set up a color palette and an overall vibe for the space,” she says.

Once these pieces are in place, it’s easier to find smaller accents that complement them.

Get outside the big-box store

When it’s time to start shopping, look for gems and good deals beyond the usual box stores and online retailers.

While Millan did find a bunch of stuff at Target and Home Depot, she was surprised to find outdoor plants at Costco and a stool at Aldi.

Look around before purchasing, you may be surprised by what you find.

Flowers and foliage

Your outdoor space will transform into a sanctuary with the right mix of plants.

Is your spot shady? Sunny? Choose your flora based on the environment.

Millan added a few Monsteras in decorative pots that reflect her chosen color palette.

If you’re a visual learner (or just an avid Pinner), check out our patio oasis Pinterest board for ideas.

Think comfort and usability

Patio Oasis 3

A few extra features, like the right lighting or some heating options for chillier months, can make your patio comfy and versatile.

Millan added bistro lights so her family could enjoy dining outside. A teak table and comfortable seating were inspired by her love of cruises, giving the space a luxurious feel.

Portable fire pits, chimineas, or heating lamps can also add some warmth.

Take it easy

“Don’t try to do it all at once!” Millan says when asked for her top piece of advice for those looking to create their own patio oasis.

The point is to relax and enjoy the space, so stressing about getting it all done in a day kind of defeats the point.

Similarly, she encourages prioritizing yourself: “If something makes you happy, add it to your space.”

Looking for more inspo for your outdoor enjoyment? Check out these posts:

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