Outdoor living spaces can be designed to serve any purpose. Relaxation or recreation. Casual dining or casual conversation. Big backyard barbeques or small family gatherings. With the right setup, you can create an outdoor living area that complements your home and connects you to Mother Nature.
4 Must-Have Features for Your Outdoor Entertainment Area
Patios and decks were designed to draw you out of the house to appreciate the outdoors. No matter how you prefer to unwind with family and friends, there are a few key features that can make an outdoor living room enjoyable for all — and easy on the entertainer.
1. Outdoor Patio Kitchen
They say your kitchen is the heart of your home. That thinking applies to an outdoor kitchen as well. Indoors, family and friends may gather in the living room while you’re left alone preparing a meal and missing the party. An outdoor kitchen on your patio lets you cook for everyone and still be a part of the conversation.
Custom, built-in cooking stations provide all the kitchen essentials: countertops for food prep, a grill for cooking and cupboards or shelving for storing all your tools. Slide a mini fridge underneath to grab beverages without giving your hand an ice bath whenever someone needs a drink. Or keep it simple with a charcoal or gas grill off to the side and a small bar for entertaining and storage.
2. Large Patio Doors
You can’t recreate your entire interior floor plan outdoors. At a minimum, your family and guests will still need to venture inside. And you’ll need to go in and out to grab more food and refreshments.
Patio doors are the key to connecting indoor and outdoor spaces. Open or closed, wide patio doors make your outdoor living area feel like a natural extension of your home. If you often find yourself moving back and forth with your hands full, you’ll want a door you can effortlessly operate with elbows, hips and feet:
3. Covered Outdoor Living Space
Awnings, gazebos, pergolas, canopies and screened porches give you more opportunities to enjoy your outdoor space and keep the party going when the weather threatens to ruin your plans. They also offer shade and protection from the sun.
A large patio umbrella may offer the same protection at a lower cost. Many umbrellas move and tilt so you can block the sun as it travels across the sky. Privacy screens won’t protect you from the weather but will block the sun and views from neighbors.
4. Patio Fire Pit
A fire feature is designed for everyone to gather around. An outdoor fire pit can create a focal point for your living area the same way a fireplace does indoors. When the sun goes down and takes the temps with it, cozy up by the fire to keep the party going until the last ember burns. In milder climates, an outdoor patio fire pit can allow you to enjoy your outside living area year-round.
Install a wood-burning or gas outdoor fireplace or fire pit to anchor your outdoor patio design. If your space or budget is limited, a portable fire pit is an affordable option that you can keep out of the way when it’s not in use. Some patio and deck tables include gas fire features built in. Check your local ordinances and building codes for guidance on the type and location of your fire feature.
3 Patio Design Tips for Better Backyard Living
Decorating around the core elements of your outdoor living space can be challenging. You need to maintain the function and style without cluttering up the patio space or clogging natural traffic areas. Outdoor living is more casual and comfortable. Design your space with the furniture and decor that bring out those qualities.
1. Select the right patio furniture for the space.
Pick out outdoor patio furniture to match the entertaining you do most — a table and chairs for outdoor dining, benches and bar stools for drinks with friends or comfy couches and chairs for that family room feel.
Use a variety of patio seating options and different arrangements to create natural separation and gathering spots, like this beautiful patio near Philadelphia. The wicker chairs make for a great spot to cozy up by the fireplace while the high-top table is designed for outdoor dining or catching the game on the big screen.
Stick to the number of seats to accommodate your average group size. You can always bring in temporary patio furniture or lawn chairs for large get-togethers.
Outdoor patio furniture is designed to withstand the elements. But climates vary and not every piece is built to meet the demands of your environment. Depending on your climate and the weather protection of your outdoor room, you may need water-resistant, rust-proof, wind-resistant, waterproof or fade-resistant patio furniture at varying degrees.
2. Mount an outdoor ceiling fan for added comfort.
Some days are so hot that even the shade makes you sweat, making it unbearable to hang out in your outdoor living room. If you have a covered or enclosed outdoor living space, a ceiling fan can create the refreshing cool of a summer breeze when Mother Nature forgets.
This modern farmhouse in Edmond, Oklahoma, uses a large outdoor ceiling fan to help cool the enclosed patio on hot summer nights.
Choose a patio ceiling fan with long, skinny blades. The blades on these outdoor fans cool better than the shorter, wider blades you see on indoor fans by drawing more air in to push it down.
3. Look to nature for your patio decor ideas.
When designing the interior, you may feel boxed in by the architecture or style of your home. Outdoor entertainment areas open up new options. When you’re creating an outdoor space, nature provides an extensive color palette and an array of textures.
Start with earth tones to connect your living space to its environment, as these Incline Village, Nevada, homeowners did in matching their furniture to the timber. In addition to the furniture, patio stone, or deck stain, you can match cushions, pillows and accessories to your surrounding landscape. Take inspiration from your flowers and shrubbery to create a mix of colors, floral prints and patterns to give your outdoor oasis a unique style.
You can save up for an extended getaway at a luxurious resort. Or you can bring the resort to your backyard and enjoy it for years to come. Build a relaxing retreat just out your back door for the perfect spot to entertain and unwind with family and friends.