The lawn is mowed, and the trees are trimmed — but that doesn’t mean you are ready to have people over for spring and summer parties. You need to offer a welcoming and comfortable outdoor entertaining space that people want to spend time in, which means you need devote a couple weeks (or months) to decorating your patio or deck just perfectly.
If you don’t have an eye for design or aren’t sure where to start when it comes to outdoor style, read on for some decorating tips and tricks for your outdoor living space.
Plenty of Shade
It’s nice to soak up the summer sun, but experts advise against standing in direct sunlight for long periods of time. First, all those UV rays are bad for your skin and eyes; plus, the heat could cause dehydration and give all your guests sunstroke. Therefore, the best outdoor entertaining spaces always have plenty of shade, where you and your guests can retreat when the sun gets too intense.
Shade comes in many forms. If your yard is surrounded by tall trees, they might provide sufficient shade to keep everyone cool and comfortable. However, you might also want to install some kind of patio or deck cover to protect your outdoor furniture against falling leaves, rain, snow and birds as well as sunlight. Conversely, if you have a larger outdoor space, you might put a covered, shady zone away from the house, in a gazebo or pergola. You should consider the size of your yard, your landscaping, your budget and other factors when planning for shade.
Just as being in the heat of the sun stops being fun after a while, standing starts to get old in a matter of minutes. You need a place for your guests to get off their feet and relax, which means you need to provide comfortable furniture — but comfort isn’t necessarily everything. You should also want your furniture to be attractive into the future, which means you shouldn’t buy the first low-budget set you find. Here are a few growing trends in the outdoor seating field, so you can invest wisely in something that looks as good as it sits:
- Mixed materials. Drawing off the Midcentury Modern vibes that have taken over interior and exterior design, mixed material furniture is in. Look for wicker and cast iron, teakwood and aluminum and similar combinations.
- Dual purposes. Putting storage under seats, in ottomans or as side tables is a great way to combine seating with function. You can keep outdoor toys, tools and even drinks or food right in your entertaining area.
- Color. After a seemingly interminable period of monochrome whites and grays, color is finally back in. You can use Pantone’s color trends to guide you to the right hues.
Something to Eat
A gathering without food is a somber gathering indeed. When you have guests over for an outdoor shindig, you should offer plenty of victuals prepared in your outdoor space. If there is anything you should splurge on, it’s barbecues and plenty of grill accessories, like a grill cover, high-quality charcoal pellets, tongs and spatulas and grill brushes. This will help you look and feel like a pro while you cook up some tasty treats for your guests.
You might also consider creating a full outdoor kitchen, replete with refrigerator, sink and bar top. An emerging trend in outdoor décor is blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces; installing a kitchen in your backyard would certainly be unexpected and delightful to your guests. You can even decorate it like a kitchen and dining space, with a large dining table set and a chandelier light fixture.
Source of Warmth
In the summer, you probably aren’t at risk of freezing when the sun goes down — but you might get a bit nippy as the night wears on. Having a fire pit in your outdoor entertaining space is a good way to draw attention to a focal point in your design and bring people together to share warm, light conversation. Fire pits are all the rage in contemporary outdoor décor, an as with shade, you have multiple fire pit trends to choose from:
- In-ground: A simple, somewhat primal fire pit option that keeps flames low.
- Gas table: A modern-looking fire pit without the mess of wood or ash and that provides a functional surface when not in use.
- Multi-level fire pit: A fire pit separate from the rest of the living space thanks to stairs.
Your outdoor living space can incorporate any of these design ideas — or none of them. As long as you and your guests are happy in your outside space, you shouldn’t stress about style.