12 Garden Terrace Ideas That Will Keep You Outside All Summer

an open terrace with a dark stained deck with yellow back chairs and a white table set with dishes, potted flowering plants, a view of terracotta tiled roofs and mountains in distance
12 Inspired Garden Terrace IdeasMatthieu Salvaing

For some, the view just beyond your outdoor terrace is only half the fun in the warm summer months. However limited the square footage, this outdoor chill zone can be transformed into a resort-worthy hangout spot with the right design touch.

But what is a terrace, exactly? Defined simply as an open, often paved or tiled space that is next to or on top of a building, a terrace provides additional living and entertaining space and can add visual interest to a home’s exterior. While the word is used interchangeably with patio, in many instances one key differentiator is that it is not usually accessed through an indoor room. It’s also often a bit bigger and can be a free-standing construction, which makes it a common urban fixture.

Who’s ready for summer in the city? If your terrace real estate is brimming with potential that is not yet fully realized, we’ve got you covered. From Thom Filicia’s cozy overlook in Manhattan’s West Village to Alvisi Kirimoto’s elegant Italian vista, read on for state-of-the-art terrace decorating ideas that are all the inspiration you need to create the perfect at-home escape this summer.

Built-In Seating Terrace

On the lower-level terrace of producer Jamie Tarses’s Hollywood Hills home, guests can cozy up next to the firepit for conversation and canapés. Upholstered cushions on the built-in seating make seasonal swap-outs a breeze.

outdoor fireplaces
Richard Powers

Small Space Terrace

The outdoor terrace of this Thom Filicia project in Manhattan’s West Village is furnished with a custom sofa, perfectly situated for taking in the view. A pair of low stools function as dual cocktail tables, allowing guests more floor space to mingle.

urban area, roof, metropolitan area, city, daytime, human settlement, cityscape, building, metropolis, property,
Nick Johnson

Rustic Materials Terrace

The built-in stucco sectional on the terrace of Kathryn M. Ireland’s Santa Monica, California, home is topped with cushions in a neutral-toned outdoor fabric and mounds of pillows for the coziest of seats. A pendant light and seating in natural fibers reinforce the relaxed atmosphere.

outdoor rooms
Trevor Tondro

European Coastal Terrace

Sénateur Lafolette roses frame the terrace of John-Mark Horton’s home overlooking the French Riviera—that’s Monaco visible in the distance! With a view like that, simple wrought-iron patio chairs and hand-painted dishes are all it takes to encourage guests to linger.

john mark horton garden elle decor
Ricardo Labougle

Minimalist Terrace

On the terrace of David Rockwell’s New York City rooftop, the color blue is a decorative through line—and one of the architect’s favorites. A mix of seating options, from Rockwell’s own lounge designs for Roche Bobois to a pillow-plush sofa and vibrant stools, invite visitors to sit and stay awhile.

rooftop terrace elle decor
Nicholas Calcott

Area Rug Terrace

On the covered terrace of this Carlos Mota–designed coastal sanctuary, a large sisal rug delineates the living area from the dining and entertaining spaces. The furnishings and soft goods allow for a mix of stylistic influences to steal the show.

carlos mota house tour
Bjorn Wallander

Mix-and-Match Terrace

On the upper-floor terrace of a Roman apartment designed by Alvisi Kirimoto, the view—onto the Colosseum, of all things—and earthy terra-cotta flooring are contrasted with statement-making patio chairs from Maarten Baas. Who needs to match when you can mix?

alvisi kirimoto rome apartment elle decor
Serena Eller Vainicher

Pop of Color Terrace

The fourth-floor terrace of this family home in Ibiza was designed by Casa Muñoz with space for dining and lounging. The bright yellow fabric on the reupholstered seating cleverly complements the local architecture, while potted plants add to the garden vibes without demanding too much maintenance.

casa munoz
Matthieu Salvaing

Sunken Terrace

The sunken terrace of Jenni Kayne’s New Zealand retreat features landscape design by Suzanne Turley and is the perfect perch for considering the adjacent garden. Squared-off sofas create a centralized conversation pit where guests can chat without feeling cut off from the main house.

a gray wood framed courtyard with facing wood sofas with white cushions, two round wood end tables, steps leading to the interior and to a garden area with shrubs and flowers, a large window with a view of the sea
Simon Wilson

Intimate City Terrace

Designer Brian McCarthy realized a cozy entertaining space on this New York City rooftop with an intimate arrangement of outdoor furniture offset by trellised blooms. Coordinated cushions on the sofa and chairs tie the space together, allowing it to function as an outdoor room with dedicated areas for lounging and dining.

roof terraces
Max Kim-Bee

Outdoor Fireplace Terrace

On the expansive terrace of a Pacific Palisades, California, home designed by Alison Palesvky, the sofas and cocktail table create a streamlined spot for alfresco sipping. A fireplace built into the rear of the home is perfect for summer evening entertaining.

modern fireplaces
Trevor Tondro

Modern Farmhouse Terrace

On the terrace of designers Christine and John Gachot’s Manhattan penthouse, originally designed by Paul Rudolph, four deck chairs create a cozy cabin vibe in the heart of the city. Now, who wants s’mores?

Nicole Franzen

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