The days are getting longer and the chill is lifting (or will be soon) in many parts of the U.S. As spring turns into summer, much of our entertaining will be outdoors. To get ready for entertaining outdoors, it’s time to transform your backyard and garden spaces into the perfect spot to relax, have dinner, and enjoy a few cocktails. The ideas below will get you started.
1. Create a Temporary Dining Room
With summer coming, a temporary outdoor dining room is a great way to create an entertaining space that is easy to put away before the snow flies. Invest in stackable chairs, or bring dining chairs outside to enjoy the evening. For a folding table, skip the rickety plastic ones. Instead, invest in something nice that can be used year after year—like a beautiful hardwood table with folding legs. Create the right atmosphere by hanging up strings of lights or gauzy curtains, and add some warmth to the setting with fire pots, a fire pit, or some candles.
2. Get a Family Style Dining Table
It’s time to banish that splintery old picnic table! If you have a covered space, furnish it with a family-style dining table. While it seems like a minor change, this is something that really makes an outdoor space feel more polished and inviting.
3. How to Handle Poolside Dining
There’s a reason why wicker seating is so popular at cabana-style resorts. When dining poolside, it’s best to invest in breathable furniture that dries quickly. Swimmers fresh from the pool inevitably leave wet patches all over upholstery, which takes forever to dry. To create a poolside dining area, look for wicker, metal, or hardwoods treated and finished to withstand the water.
4. Find the Perfect Dining Set for Small Gatherings
Prefer hosting intimate affairs? Intimacy is as much about the decor as it is about the furniture. While it may seem smart to choose a small table, make sure there is enough space not only for the entrees and the wine bucket, but also some candles and a centerpiece, too. Round tables, whether larger or smaller, make everyone feel closer. Choose comfortable chairs with plush cushions that make people want to while the evening away.
5. Create a Space for Tapas and Cocktails
Not every event needs to be a multiple course meal! A night of tapas and cocktails carries a simple elegance that impresses the pickiest of guests. The key is to create an outdoor space that supports this sort of theme. Think comfortable chairs in which people can lounge. Benches with cushions and throw pillows invite couples to sit and chat over drinks. Layered seating—cushions on the ground, low chaise lounges, comfortable arm chairs, and bar stools—adds a diversity to the setting that makes things feel lively.
Once the seating is worked out, add in a few extras to create a sense of comfort and luxury. Comfortable throws keep people toasty on chilly nights. Candlelight or torches add ambiance and warmth. Mix fire themes with the sound of running water from a fountain to complete the effect.
6. Create a Color Palette
An oft overlooked part of outdoor decor is the color palette. It’s easy to toss together seating, tables, and decorations without regard to the colors surrounding them. Consider your home’s color scheme as well as the colors of the deck or patio. Incorporate these shades into the chairs, tables and upholstery to create a unified look.
Don’t forget about the landscape, either. Make it part of the decor by choosing a color palette that either complements or contrasts the greens. Another option is to include elements of the color palette itself into the landscape, either through planted flowers, hardscaping, or seasonal decorations.
7. Give a Nod to Textures
Texture is an important part of design, even outdoors. Mixing textures builds visual interest, and certain textures also help make spaces feel warmer, which is important on chilly evenings. To add warmth, think faux fur pillows, sherpa throws, and shag rugs. Contrast these textures with smooth metal, wood and glass in furniture and decor to complete the look.
Spring is the perfect time for outdoor entertaining. Use these ideas to transform outdoor spaces into welcoming areas so that you and your friends can enjoy a few final moonlight get togethers before it gets too hot.