After laying out your space, start with the foundation which is your patio pavers and decking. Again when in doubt go with high quality and low maintenance. Use thick stone with a good drainage base and polymeric sand to fill in the gaps which will prevent shifting and unsightly weed growth. When it comes to decking I love the polymer decking materials that will last for decades with resistance to fading, mold, scratches and no sealing required.
I believe in having a functional outdoor cooking area because that means we get to spent more time together with family and friends instead of prepping meals inside. The configured outdoor island kitchens are so versatile, you can choose the size and pieces you want like BBQ, sinks, fridges, storage, side grills, smokers, etc to customize your kitchen. Just like indoors, choose a suitable counter surface, one that can handle the outdoors with protection from UV, scratches, stain, fire, ice and that is nonporous.
Next is seating, calculate how much you need and its purpose. You may need dining areas, lounging areas and/or a quite space for yourself, as well as having seating that can be easily moved around the space as needed. An important item to consider is shade for the sun whether it is an awning, umbrella, pergola...there are many options but looking into adaptable products like rotating cantilever umbrellas, retractable awnings, pavilion tenting and movable screens would be best.
Finally, incorporate those that bring you peace, serenity and calm while heightening your senses like the sound of flowing water with an outdoor water feature, a great sound system to set any mood, a crackling fire pit, artwork, accessories and of course flowers and plants whether real, artificial, potted or planted. Make your outdoor area a reflection of you and what you love, creating your own personal ultimate backyard living space.