With summertime finally at our doorstep, it’s time to start focusing on the great outdoors. Outdoor living spaces are increasingly becoming an extension of the home, and the trend is to blend indoor and outdoor living seamlessly for optimal enjoyment. Whether you are preparing a porch, a deck, a patio, a balcony, or a pool house, your goal remains the same; furnishing and equipping the space to meet the given need. First and foremost, you need to determine if your space will primarily be used for entertaining, dining, reading & relaxation, or a combination of all of the above. Running through the checklist below will help ensure that both you and your guests enjoy all your summer festivities to the fullest!
COMFORT: Your first priority is to make sure your outdoor living space is comfortable. The obvious way to do so is with seating options that include ample cushions and chairs that allow for relaxation, perhaps even reclining. But comfort goes well beyond seating. If your outdoor space includes a roof of any kind, have it wired for an outdoor overhead fan. Provide citronella candles to repel mosquitos and other bugs. A retractable awning or patio umbrella will provide relief from the sun as needed. A sturdy indoor/outdoor rug will keep feet from getting splinters from your deck boards or burning on overheated concrete or stone.
CONVENIENCE: Eating and relaxing outdoors can feel cumbersome if it’s inconvenient. As the host, you will want to make sure you take steps that lighten your own load as well. Invest in a large deck box to store cushions and other items to protect them from the weather and make for effortless set-up. Use a large galvanized tray to transport items to your deck and save yourself from taking multiple trips. Station a beverage cart outside or build a food bar from old pallets so you have easy access to drinks, food, napkins, and other supplies. Provide small end tables or a coffee table to rest books and beverages. Have a basket of bug spray, sunscreen, and sunglasses within reach. Provide ample lighting for nighttime reading or socializing, whether through hanging pendants, outdoor string lights, or candles. Stay stocked up on paper plates and cups, S’mores ingredients, and hamburgers and hotdogs so you can be spontaneous on the weekend.
COMMUNITY: Utilize area rugs to define gathering spaces and create a comfortable spot for young children to play within eyesight of their parents. Hammocks are better placed in areas of solitude rather than places of connection, so be mindful of your seating options. Arrange furniture in clusters rather than rows to promote conversation. For larger gatherings, give your guests options; arrange some seats around the fire pit, others on the deck, and still more near the swing set so parents can visit while children play. Provide tables for board games or giant Jenga for guests that are less mobile. If your home is situated close to your neighbor’s house or is easy viewed by the public, add trellises or privacy walls to create a cozy atmosphere.
COLOR: The natural beauty of an outdoor setting provides its own color, but there are other ways you can incorporate your favorite hues into the mix. Consider spray painting vintage outdoor furniture in a bright red or orange. Add playful throw pillows to your seating areas, or purchase fun tablecloths or blankets for chilly evenings. Buy colorful vases or planters, or paint inexpensive terra cotta pots to complement your décor. Use old stepladders to display small potted plants in a variety of colors. Coordinate features such as umbrellas or area rugs to match the rest of your furnishings.
Outdoor relaxation and entertaining should be enjoyable for both host and guests, so thinking ahead will enable you to maximize your outdoor living spaces and make for summer memories that last you year round. Happy summer!