If you’re living in a winter wonderland right now, don’t worry: spring is around the corner! And with springtime comes warm temperatures that will draw you outside to entertain. If you’ve got cabin fever, start working on some plans to turn your outdoor space into the ultimate hosting machine.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of creating an outdoor fireplace or grill, or just want to add some neat decorative and functional touches to your outside living space, now is the perfect time to begin putting your thoughts into motion.
Read on to learn six must-haves for turning your outdoor space into the ultimate hosting arena. Or for some more inspiration on building your own amazing outdoor living space, get our free step-by-step eBook guide to see how it's done. You’ll be glad you did when summer is in full swing.
1. Provide ample seating
One key to having a great outdoor entertainment space is having enough seating for your guests. If you don’t have any outdoor furniture, invest in some comfortable chairs, love seats, stools, benches, lounge chairs, or even hammocks. Comfort is key, as is providing different seating options arranged so conversation is easy.
Consider the best place to strategically set up your outdoor seating for the elements. If you have a patio or deck that gets a lot of direct sun, invest in umbrellas, awnings, or other shades to protect your guests from the hot sun—or even the rain.
If you don’t have a feature that defines your seating area, consider a pergola, which can differentiate your seating area from the rest of your backyard.
2. Warm it up
For the lucky ones who live in areas where it’s possible to entertain outside year-round, a fireplace is a great addition to your outdoor space. That way, in the colder months, you’ll have a cozy space to gather without being forced indoors. (And, a great place for kids to roast marshmallows.)
You can get really fancy by adding a pizza oven to your fireplace, or keep your design simple. Consider what materials speak to you, be it river rock, brick, or fieldstone, and go with that look.
Don’t want to go the fireplace route? Consider a fire bowl or heat lamps to provide warmth for your guests.
3. Light it up
Don’t rely on one bright spotlight to light your outdoor entertainment area. Consider adding lanterns, candles, or string lights to your space to provide some mood, or even a bistro-like feel.
Beyond being a nice décor element, having adequate lighting also is a good safety measure. Add ground lighting to steps, edges of the pool, or along your outdoor cooking area. Illuminate walkways with solar lights or lanterns.
Also, don’t forget bug lights, citronella candles, or tiki torches to keep any insects away and provide some nice lighting.
4. Cook it up
Having an outdoor cooking space can go way beyond simply having a grill. Consider creating a working outdoor kitchen, with a mini fridge, stovetop, sink, and storage. That way, you won’t be running back and forth between your kitchen and patio during your gathering or party.
Include adequate countertop space for food prep and serving, and situate your outdoor cooking area so there’s seating nearby. That way, the cook or cooks can still take part in conversation while the food prep is underway.
5. Bring indoor comfort out
Make your outdoor space cozy and stylish by bringing the indoors out. Anchor your seating area with an outdoor rug, which are easy to clean and resistant to mold and stains.
Choose furniture with comfy cushions, if you have outdoor space under a roof, overhang, or awning. Then add some fun and festive throw pillows into the mix. If it’s cool outside, drape some blankets over the back of the furniture so guests can cuddle up.
When setting your table for a gathering, go beyond disposable, plastic utensils and plates. Use traditional settings, like a table runner, placemats, ceramic plates, silverware, and cloth napkins. Also add accessories like a clock or artwork, where appropriate.
If you want added privacy in your backyard, add curtains. They can block the view of nosy neighbors, define your entertainment space, and add a cozy indoors element.
6. Provide entertainment
A pool or hot tub does add draw to your outdoor living space, but also consider other forms of entertainment for you and your guests. Add a bocce or horseshoe court, or set up badminton or another favorite outdoor game.
If you want to go high-tech, install an outdoor television or outdoor speakers, allowing you to show a sports game, or jam along with some favorite tunes. Just make sure you place your gadgets in a well-covered area not exposed to the elements.
Also set up a drink station so guests can help themselves. Stock a bar cart with glasses, bottle openers, pitchers, other barware, and plenty of fun drink options. Make a few signature cocktails and mocktails before your party, and allow guests to serve themselves.
Whatever your outdoor living space dreams, start making them a reality today.