Create a personal oasis, right in your backyard, with these six simple tips.

There’s no denying that outdoor entertainment areas are an attractive addition to the modern home, and as we all slip gradually into quarantine-induced madness (thanks for that, Rona), they’ve never looked so good. 

The perks of having an alfresco entertainment space are numerous: extend your living area, get the family outside and reduce indoor screen time, comfortably catch some fresh air without leaving home, and get a killer ROI when it’s time to move.

Sounds pretty good, right? Before you run off and dig up the garden to make way for the barbeque, check out these 6 essential elements of any outdoor entertainment area and how to make them work for your space. 

Grab your tools, and let’s get to work!

Get Cooking

A cooking corner is the ultimate must-have for any outdoor entertainment area, allowing the resident chef to mingle with guests while preparing nibbles and sips. 

Opt for a nice stand-alone counter with a built-in grill, give your indoor kitchen a run for its money with a fully kitted out kitchen space, or keep it simple with a basic barbeque or smoker area. Whatever you choose, keep safety in mind by positioning it out of the way of your seating area and far from flammable or dangly things. 

Store food waste and trimmings in a proper container--one with a locking lid or is hidden behind closed doors--to prevent critters from making a meal of your trash and a mess of your beautiful new space. 

The goal of any good outdoor entertainment area is to strike a balance between sleek design and pinnacle practicality. It should be comfortable and prevent you from making multiple trips inside. Be sure you’ve accounted for everything you need to prep, cook, and serve meals.

Focus on Furniture

Since open-air entertainment spaces can’t be tied together by many of the design elements present inside your home (i.e., walls, flooring, traditional art, etc.), the furniture you choose will set the aesthetic tone. 

Think carefully about the type of mood you want this space to encourage, and choose furniture that reflects that. Bright, sunny colors reflect an energetic and happy mood, while jewel-toned nature colors are more likely to complement and reflect the surrounding environment. A stark black-and-white color palette allows the surrounding greenery (if you have it) to pop, and gives you flexibility for seasonal customization with throw pillows. 

Durability is key here, so be sure to select outdoor furniture made of materials like:

- Aluminum 

- Steel 

- Cedarwood 

- Acacia wood 

- Plastic 

Start with comfortable seating in a variety of layouts (single, love seat, sofa, perhaps even a swing or glider?) and a table or two for setting food and drinks. Then, as you’re able, snag some bar stools, ottomans, standing heaters or misters, and other enhancements.

Light It Up

Come evening, lighting is the quickest way to add vibe-y ambiance to your outdoor living space, so choose it carefully! Proper lighting is also key to safety, especially after a glass or two of vino. Place lights around working areas (like your cooking corner), walking paths, stairs, and anywhere there’s a ledge (like the end of a deck) or other trip-risk areas.

Lighting options are boundless, so let your creativity run wild: string lights, tiki torches, mason jarred battery-powered candles, floating pool or pond lights, strategic uplighting to highlight local flora, and so much more. Whatever your design preference, keep things earth- and budget-friendly by selecting an energy-efficient option. 

Closeup of brightly lit clear string lights hung on side of rough-hewn wood beam in outdoor entertainment area

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Consider investing in patio heaters to maximize time spent in your outdoor entertainment area during chillier days and nights. Even better, a built-in fireplace or pizza oven pulls double duty, providing heat and delicious snacks. 

If you’re concerned about fire hazards (or if wood burning is heavily regulated in your area), opt for electric heaters. Just make sure they’re kept on level ground and out of the way of highly trafficked areas.

Throw Some Shade 

Strategic shading is critical to a comfortable outdoor living area, particularly in places affected by blazing summers and heavy winds. We know the virus doesn’t do well in sunlight, but you don’t want to scorch your family and friends to death either. 

There are many ways to shade your space. If money is no object, consider a retractable patio enclosure. If you’re balling on a budget, thoughtfully placed umbrellas, free-standing screens, or a sunsail will do the trick.

Floor It

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting flooring for your outdoor area is the weather. Wood has always been a popular choice for deck-owners, but it’s notoriously high maintenance. Sun bleaching, bugs, and heavy rains all necessitate special treatments to keep wood looking fresh. 

Easier options include composite wood, concrete, tile, or even artificial turf! Just be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons of all options before making a selection. Consider things like cost, longevity, ease of installation, maintenance, adaptability to local weather (will it become slippery when it rains?), and, of course, appearance. 

Closeup of wood flooring for outdoor entertainment area

There are dozens of ways to take your outdoor space to the next level beyond the essentials we’ve outlined here. Once you’ve got these nailed down, consider:

  • Adding a collection of potted plants (or just one or two in large, statement-making pots) for added greenery and color.

  • Art doesn’t only belong inside! Check out antique stores, craftsman markets, and even places like HomeGoods for statues, figurines, and other outdoor decor. 

  • You don’t have to spring for outdoor surround-sound, but don’t forget about the music! Grab a couple of high-quality outdoor-ready Bluetooth speakers to keep the good times rolling.

  • If your existing outdoor flooring isn’t up to par, cover it up with an outdoor rug--which can also add another design element.

  • Grab a few games like cornhole, lawn darts, horseshoes, and more to make the outdoors even more appealing.

The outdoor entertainment area of your dreams isn’t far from reach. Take a little time to plan, roll up your sleeves, get your tools ready, and add it to your list of weekend projects!

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