5 ways to embrace California style in your outdoor space

Here's how to get on board with the California style trend for your outdoor living space this summer

outdoor kitchen ideas: modern design by norsu interiors
(Image credit: norsu interiors)

Love the relaxed look of California style interiors that are proving to be such a hit at the moment and want to create a similar feel in your outdoor space too? With its use of natural textures and summery tones of white, this style works just as well outdoors as in. 

There’s something so fabulously appealing about Californian interiors – the casual approach to entertaining and the air of easy living are hard to resist. The key to transferring this look to your backyard or garden design ideas is to keep the look light and airy, so avoid dark wood or deep colors with this style. 

Furniture is typically low-slung in a mix of wicker and pale wood; color can be used but choose summery shades and add in a splash of white. There’s also a lack of clutter, so be minimal and selective with what you use – simplicity is the word with this look. Add in good food, great company and some sunshine, and you'll be all set to enjoy your Californian-inspired space this summer. 

1. Replicate your interior style outdoors

pair of armchairs on a sunny patio

Furniture from Go Modern

(Image credit: Go Modern)

A top tip for a Californian-inspired outdoor space is to select outdoor furniture that looks and feels similar to your indoor style. After all, your backyard space is an extension of your home so it pays to create a scheme that flows seamlessly from inside to outside. 

Striped fabrics in soft, muted tones are the theme in this backyard. Used indoors as well as on the armchair cushions and outdoor rug, the design subtly links the two spaces. 

2. Merge indoors and out

outdoor kitchen ideas: modern design by norsu interiors

(Image credit: norsu interiors)

Outdoor kitchen ideas have long been a must-have in the US, but they are quickly gaining in popularity in the UK as we embrace outdoor living. 

To create this lovely light and airy outdoor kitchen, consider going 50:50 to make it part indoors, part outdoors. That way you can still enjoy cooking outside to an extent, but are protected if the weather takes a turn for the worse – always a possibility if you're not blessed with Californian sunshine!

The white walls link the two spaces together and the black-framed windows define the outdoor element. Choose tiles that zone the kitchen area and let them flow into the backyard for a cohesive feel.

Head over to our patio cover ideas for more ways to shelter your outdoor space. 

3. Layer your lighting

balcony space with festoon lights, candles and lanterns

Outdoor lights from Lights4Fun

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

As the sun goes down you don’t want your guests to be sat in darkness. The Californian way is to layer outdoor lighting ideas – this means illuminating your space from multiple angles, in the same way that you would light your interior space. 

So think festoon or string lights above, a layer of candles on the wall if you can, and then pretty lanterns on the ground. It's all about varying the heights and this way you literally cover all bases. 

4. Add furniture that encourages lounging

hanging chair suspended from a tree by the ocean

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

If your climate doesn’t quite match up to California’s guaranteed sunshine and coastal locations, then the key is to mimic as much of the feel of it as you can. 

A hanging chair suspended from a tree in your backyard can look just as fabulous as it does in this beachside spot. Combine it with one of our water feature ideas and you can even recreate the sound of gently lapping waves for a tranquil vibe. Add in a favorite blanket and book and while away your time enjoying the peace and quiet. 

5. Choose coastal-inspired colors

beachside home with pool and patio

(Image credit: Karen B Wolf Interiors)

Although white and neutral tones are the main colors for Californian style, you can add interest with subtle pops of blue too. Avoid bold, vibrant blues and stick to inky tones to keep it feeling smart and sophisticated. 

Here, the blue and white paint shades used on the house are replicated in the parasol, creating a cool and breezy feel which ties in with the poolside location. The rustic wood of the fence is complemented by the classic wooden loungers and  armchairs to introduce the natural textures that are a key part of this look. 

Our guide to garden color schemes has plenty more inspiration for choosing the right mix of colors for your space. 

Sophie Warren-Smith

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years. She recently trained to be a florist and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for weddings and events.