How to Design Your Outdoor Space with Cooling in Mind

  • Written By: Rachel
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Patios should be a source of contentment. Whether you’re taking a moment to yourself, reading a book, watching as your partner cooks on the grill, sharing some family and friends time around the place – you should be comfortable. But what happens in the middle of summer, when those temperatures rise? 

You can take some simple steps in your decorative choices that will help cool your outdoor living space. Using breathable covers for your seating, adding a rug or painting the patio, adding some shade, and just shuffling your grill & bar around appropriately can help keep your summer patio cool. 

If you don’t want to abandon your patio for the hot season, just take a look at some of these simple solutions to ward off that summer sizzle.

Use Breathable Seat Cushions to Keep Cooler

I’m going here because I always recommend solid outdoor furniture because it lasts longer. And when you have that, you have to use cushions or be uncomfortable.  Don’t just settle for plastic or non-porous material for a cushion. 

Great Ways to Cool Your Outdoor Spa... x
Great Ways to Cool Your Outdoor Space

Obviously, if you use a breathable cushion cover, there will be an airflow that keeps sweating from making you not only hot but moist. Yes, that word… you want to avoid that. Some people make microfiber seat covers (cushion or not) for their chairs. Microfiber is good at absorbing moisture – it’s used in clothing to wick away perspiration. 

Did you know you could also get cooling cushions for your seating? That is a thing. So you can have a nice cool bottom while sitting around outside! Even if you don’t go to this expense, just be sure to put any kind of fabric between your bottom and your furniture, and it will cool you down. 

Have a Bar Set Up in Your Outdoor Living Space

This doesn’t exactly cool you down unless you have something to drink out of it. But I wanted to suggest it because I’ve tried it in the past and it’s really a good idea! Instead of constantly going in and out of a house (especially if you have kids) and losing precious air conditioning energy, prepare a cooler with cold drinks and have it on the patio. 

If you have the money and time, find someone ready to get rid of their mini-fridge in an online marketplace or at a yard sale. If you want to go all out – design an actual bar and get an outdoor fridge for it. I have family members that pretty much made their outdoor living space into a local bar! If you can run the lines and cooling, kegerators are a thing and you can DIY. 

Just keep in mind that this also can cost money for energy, and you need to make sure the elements of your “bar” are nowhere near your seating area. This brings us to the next subject.

Keep the Grilling and Cooking Where It Belongs – Away from Hot Guests!

I cannot stress this enough. If you’re grilling, you shouldn’t have your grill near the patio covering, anyway. But, I’ve seen many times where people will collect their chairs around a grill and then fuss because of the smoke or because they’re hot. Well? 

If your outdoor living space includes anything that makes heat, make sure that heat is directed away from your relaxation area. The grill should be on the opposite side of the patio from the chairs and table. If you have to, set the grill on pavers out beyond the patio. We’ve had to do this before and it actually made for an interesting design.

Outdoor Rugs Can Keep Your Patio Cool and Give It Some Style

Have you ever noticed how hot your feet get when you walk across a patio or deck in the heat of summer? They can burn and no one wants that. But also, the area around the decking or patio stays hot. Why? Well, it’s not just that the patio gets hot in direct sunlight. There’s also radiant heat – the heat that is then coming off of the flooring, whether it’s wood or cement. 

If you have a rug with a loose weave to it, air passed through the fibers and the heat doesn’t really have a place to linger. Therefore, using a rug with a loose weave and especially if it has a lighter color (so it doesn’t absorb so much solar energy) can actually keep an area cooler than without it. It can also save your feet.

So long as your patio is sealed and the rug is made of water-resistant, mold-resistant, and mildew-resistant material (or has been sprayed to seal it against such things), you should be good to go. 

Does Painting Your Patio Keep It Cooler?

Plain concrete naturally gets hotter than painted concrete. If you want to stain or paint your concrete patio, just make sure you keep the paint a neutral color or very light color so that it doesn’t absorb more heat. 

You just need to clean the patio how you normally would, let it dry, shop-vac it, and then apply exterior paint. Always get the paint made for this and follow the instructions. Then, apply a clear sealer. This is a pretty simple process and it can have a great cooling effect on your patio. 

Painting doesn’t just help cool the concrete, it also can be used for hiding discolorations and extends the life of your patio. So, this is a win-win option. 

Can Outdoor Curtains and Blinds Help Keep Your Space Cool? 

Using blinds and curtains in an outdoor space is a double-edged sword. Yes, if the sun is beating down from an angle and you have attached blinds or curtains to your outdoor structure (gazebo, pergola, or pavilion cover), you can lower those to block the sun’s rays. No sunlight means no direct or radiant heat from that source. 

However, these things tend to block airflow.  So, you wouldn’t want to leave your blinds or curtains there for longer than necessary. Having airflow also cools your outdoor living space off, so you definitely do not want to be the one responsible for blocking it. 

In Conclusion 

These are little, cheap things you can do to help cool down outdoor living spaces. But if you have the time, energy, and money to handle larger projects, I’ve written an article that you may want to look over. In it, I cover all kinds of suggestions, and I then break those down even further. 

I grew up in the southern U.S. and I still live close – so I know how much the summer heat and humidity can just ruin your fun. That’s why I’ve gone over all of these suggestions and made sure to research them before making my own decisions on what to do for our yard. Some of these things we’ve used before and some we’re trying now. 

I hope this article and my other articles have helped you out. Have a wonderful time chillin’ in your backyard!