Darlington Designs

Your Backyard Is a Blank Canvas

Whether you’re a new homeowner or looking to remodel, outdoor living projects are a great way to add a new, unique touch to a home without causing too much disruption to you and your family’s daily routine. 

What once was thought to be a limited project category, has now grown into a project portfolio full of many possibilities and opportunities. This new outlook on outdoor living gives families the opportunity to customize their backyard into their personal oasis! 

What are these new project possibilities and opportunities? Keep reading to find out!

Darlington Designs has constructed a comprehensive guide, featuring all of the latest outdoor living project possibilities. 

Outdoor Kitchens

Ever dream of forfeiting the constant “in-and-out” that comes along with trying to cook and dine in the great outdoors? If so, an outdoor kitchen is for you. 

And just to be clear, it can be so much more than a grill. You can incorporate a sink, dishwasher, stovetop, bar stool/seating, storage, refrigerator, ice maker, garbage disposal, warming drawer, TVs, beer tap, and even a pizza oven! Don’t worry about weather—outdoor kitchens can be built under a pergola, custom roof, or retractable awning. 

Enjoy all of the perks of your indoor kitchen, outside! 

Outdoor kitchen featuring three bar stools, eating counter, stainless steel grill, and trees in the background.

Cabanas and Pergolas 

Although there’s nothing quite like basking in the sun during the summer months, sometimes, you need a break from the rays. Instead of heading back out or huddling under a minimal-coverage umbrella, opt for a cabana or pergola. 

Although both ultimately provide comfortable relief from the sun, there are many notable differences between the two: 

    • Cabanas
      Cabanas are freestanding structures with a full-coverage triangular/angular roof. They have at least one open wall for easy access in and out, which can quickly be made private by drawing the curtains closed. They can be seamlessly integrated into an already-existing/built-up backyard, and can be decorated with light fixtures, furniture, ceiling fans, fireplaces, TVs, etc. 
    • Pergolas 
      Pergolas are freestanding, or, built-in structures, that are more striking in appearance and larger than cabanas. They are typically built on an existing landscape feature, such as a patio or deck. Homeowners can get really creative in terms of style, building materials, and colors with pergolas. Their typical slotted, flat-roof design allows for some sunlight to peer through (think of sitting under a large, leafy tree), but they can be customized to allow more or less sunlight to pass through. If weather is a serious concern, you can always opt to cover the open parts of the roof with a clear or tinted polycarbonate so that you can achieve the open-roof feeling without subjecting yourself to the elements.

Dark brown pergola with two lounge chairs underneath it in the backyard.


Having a well-manicured landscape is an essential foundational component to any backyard oasis. 

The term “landscaping” is comprised of two components: softscaping and hardscaping. 

    • Softscaping
      This term refers to the “living,” horticulture elements of landscaping. The process can include a beautiful array of thoughtfully-placed flowers, shrubbery, and trees (which can double as a privacy barrier). It can also include vegetable gardens, which in today’s green, renewable-focused society, have been consistently growing in popularity. 

Gray paver pathway in backyard leading to deck.

    • Hardscaping
      Unlike softscaping, hardscaping refers to the non-living components of landscaping. This includes patios, lighting, pavers, and fences. Hardscaping is used to complement softscaping, providing structure and organization to the living elements. It can also be used to direct traffic and define open spaces for use. Water features, such as fountains, ponds, or waterfalls, also fall under the hardscaping category, and are a great, complementary addition to all the greenery in a backyard.

Waterfall flowing over stones in a backyard with a large, stone walkway featuring small light structures.

Fire Pits

The fire pits built today are made for so much more than s’mores and scary stories. (Although you can still do those things around modern fire pits.) They are architecturally impressive structures that serve as focal points for lounging and meeting areas, as well as pools and spas

They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be comprised of different materials, such as concrete, bricks, steel, or pavers. 

Fire pits are typically either ignited by wood, gel fuel, propane, or natural gas. Depending on which design and materials you would like to incorporate into your fire pit, certain ignition types may not be possible.

Round, brick fireplace surrounded by large, rounded brick bench with decorative pillows on it.


Decks are a popular entertainment element for a backyard. It is a place to relax, dine, catch up with friends, play games, or enjoy a moment of peace by yourself. 

Depending on the size of land you are able to spare and the layout of your home, there are many deck designs to choose from: 

    • Wraparound Deck
      Provides extended living space.
    • Multi-tier Deck
      Allows you to create distinct spaces on the different levels.
    • Attached Deck
      Acts as an extension of the home.
    • Detached Deck
      Covers uneven/unsightly areas and can be positioned anywhere on the property.
    • Rooftop/Over Garage Deck
      Offers great views and privacy for urban dwellers.

Raised, attached deck featuring blue furniture, a grill, and a dining table.

Redefine Your Outdoor Living Project

At Darlington Designs, we have more than 15 years of experience in designing and building custom outdoor living spaces, as well as pools and spas and home renovations. Our knowledgeable team operates as a “one-stop shop” for our clients, taking ownership of the entire project from the initial design to the final build. We work closely with our clients throughout the entire process, ensuring they are fully informed and happy every step of the way. 

If you are interested in incorporating a pool into your outdoor living project, download Darlington Designs’ informative guide, 38 Questions To Ask Your Home Pool Contractor

At Darlington Designs, we’re committed to executing your pool visions. Contact us today at info@darlington-designs.com or call us at 856-442-0440. We proudly serve local neighborhoods in southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia region. 

Also, feel free to contact us via our project form on our site. The project form can be found at the bottom of our Outdoor Living page.