When the heat of summer finally returns, we launch back into the lively season of cocktails by the pool and slow July nights on the patio with friends. No matter your property size or hosting style, a backyard is a perfect palette for designing the ideal outdoor entertainment area. For spaces large and small, a few summer backyard must-haves and patio essentials craft the hosting area you envision for the warm months ahead. Use these essential tips to inspire your next unforgettable outdoor soiree.
Creative Outdoor Seating Areas
Any porch, yard or patio can host an array of exciting outdoor seating ideas. Begin by designating the main seating area, whether it be around an outdoor dining set or dynamic patio entertaining area. This guides your guests to the main gathering area when joining the party.
When you have a bit more space to play, create multiple pockets of relaxation and even solitude, ranging from poolside modular furniture sets to hammocks and fireside outdoor lounge chairs.
In cozier spots, work with the unique layout of your outdoor haven to create a seating area with a natural flow. Focus on the negative space—where guests will travel—to create the feeling of openness and balance. Bistro sets and coffee table-focused seating collections work well in diminutive areas. If you have a small deck or a comfy corner somewhere, add some charm with a set of rocking chairs that are a perfect conversation set for any space.
Backyard Activities and Entertainment
To reach all your summer entertaining goals, provide opportunities for your guests to explore your space and play. The summer is a time for activity and leisure. Unlike the colder months, now’s the time to take in the peak of nature. Throw that pool party you’ve been meaning to have, or host a potluck for you and a few friends. Align your main seating areas with your backyard pool, for example, or designate a larger area of grass with a volleyball net or croquet set.
In smaller spaces, consider patio essentials for outdoor entertaining. Collect group board and card games and store in an easy-to-access outdoor storage spot. For a low-key gathering of neighbors, host an evening of outdoor movies on the lawn with blankets, popcorn and a projector. Finish up the night with s’mores around a fire.
Most importantly, arrange these outdoor patio must-haves to encourage group activities that bring everyone together. Creating this balance will spark new outdoor entertainment ideas as the seasons go on.
Food-Focused Seating Arrangements
When your culinary prowess deserves the focus, position your seating and entertaining area around a grill, outdoor dining set and built-in patio bar. Whether exploring new recipes or taking the traditional barbecue route, food-centric seating encourages its own natural conversation—additional entertainment is rarely necessary. Be sure to balance the area with patio necessities such as lighting, serving sideboards and easy access to the indoor kitchen.
Consider the flow of the afternoon both for the chef and your guests. When cooking up the summer meal, is the grill close enough to the lounging and dining area to bridge the conversation? Also, be sure there is a safe and intuitive path from one to the other. The same way a kitchen flows naturally into the dining room, so should the outdoor cooking and hosting space.
For larger parties or wine and cheese nights, remember to choose outdoor furniture sets that include surfaces for placing drinks and platters of hors d’oeuvres.
Working with the Elements
Long afternoons in the sun means that the shade and sunlight shift with the hours. Consider choosing adjustable umbrellas and awnings to create a consistently shady area for sun-sensitive guests and little ones.
For a more permanent respite from the heat, pergolas and screened-in gazebos create shelter above a patio or in a sunny space of your yard. Use this to protect a particularly uncovered area or place beneath existing shady trees for extra protection in the late, hot afternoons.
As the sun begins to set, support the ongoing party with a balanced outdoor lighting design. Consider lighting walkways, patio steps, poolscapes and eating areas to be sure everyone moves with confidence and ease during your evening gathering.
Screened and well-lit areas also redirect and protect against bugs from interrupting your fun.
Selecting a Seating Focal Point
Once you’ve arranged all your patio necessities, take a look at your property’s layout and surroundings. What’s the main focal point you’d like to highlight when kicking back and hosting guests? When your yard faces a stunning view, for example, open up the outdoor entertaining area to showcase the landscape, yard or body of water in the distance. Even without facing one another, guests will settle into the conversation while taking in the natural beauty of the area.
Pools and fire pits also make natural focal points. Cluster a modular set with an umbrella at the corner of your pool patio to encourage conversation in and out of the water. In larger pockets of lawn, wrap chairs around a fire pit, or add a deep seating set around a fire table, pulling in the conversation around the evening fire.
In smaller settings, such as small porch and patio entertaining, circle your seating around a surface such as a coffee or dining table. In this case, the focal point is one another.
Summer is the time to soak in the natural beauty in your outdoor space with friends and family. But a few summer backyard must-haves elevate your entertainment experience to a new level. Designate areas for seating, dining, cooking and playing, whether you’re designing a sprawling landscape or a cozy patio dining area.