Post-Lockdown Parties: Outfit Your Outdoor Space for All-Weather Entertainment
COVID-19 lockdowns encouraged many people to organize their garages and complete the home improvement projects that had long been put off. But as many communities have opened up again, families and friends are finding numerous reasons to get together. A comfy outdoor entertainment area can be a great place to celebrate the easing of restrictions and a return to the alfresco life.
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Your backyard is just waiting to be turned into an entertainment space. There's so much you can do to make your outdoor area an oasis. To give you some design inspo, here’s a look at some outdoor living space ideas.
How Do You Build an Outdoor Entertainment Area?
It's normal to get carried away with the excitement of a project and forget the fundamentals. Skimming through online magazine pages looking for deck furniture is much more fun than actually planning a project. That said, this stage is vital. A poorly planned backyard entertainment area can easily go over budget, look nothing like what you intended and ultimately be a disappointment.
There are three key areas you should consider before anything else:
- How much space is there?
- What's the local climate like?
- What's the budget?
Notice that none of these questions are about design. At this stage, it's important to be practical. A pool would be a fantastic addition, but will it eat up vital space and money?
Then there's the climate. Sure, comfy sofas are great, but if the backyard gets a lot of rain, they won't be comfortable for long. Nobody wants their guests squelching in sofas. Before looking for outdoor seating ideas, it's worth considering if iron furniture is better because the yard gets a lot of wind. Wicker is better if there's a lot of rain.
Creating an Outdoor Living Space
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can go all out building and outfitting your space. The following ideas are just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do to turn your yard into a post-quarantine paradise.
Patio or Deck?
Patios and decks each have their lovers and haters, but, depending on the specifications of your space, both are great options. For example, patios look great and are easy to maintain while coming in a variety of colors and textures. They’re often cheaper and easier to install. Decks can offer an elevated view of your yard.
Both also have their drawbacks. Decks can be complicated to install yourself, and wood decks especially require a lot of upkeep. Poorly maintained decks are a slip hazard in winter. Patios may crack or settle over time.
Another consideration is appearance. Decking looks great beside timber-clad homes but may seem jarring if pushed up against an older brick construction. Patios can flow seamlessly from stone buildings but may look at odds on homes made of wood.
Bring the Living Room Outdoors
The classic structure of outdoor living spaces is the living room style: comfortable seats facing each other over an accent table or footstool and somewhere to safely set the drinks. If the summer weather allows, nothing's better than comfy sofas. They're stylish, and it's impossible for people not to relax once they sink into them.
If it fits in the budget, a stone fireplace could take up one end of the space. What's better than sharing a drink with friends in the firelight? A fireplace chimney is also a great place to hang a TV. The height of entertainment for many is watching sports with friends. If that’s your thing, set up your living space to be the perfect place for cheering on your team.
Cooking and Eating
What would an outdoor entertainment area be without somewhere to cook great food and a place to eat it? Outdoor kitchens may not be the centerpiece like the seating area, but they do draw the eyes of guests — especially when the meat and vegetables start to sizzle on the grill.
The best kitchens have everything at hand, leaving no need to go indoors to get something. Not only do they have easy-to-operate grills, but they also have fridges to chill foods before they're cooked, washing facilities and enough space to prepare the plates headed to the dining table.
Choosing the right dining table isn't only about style and budget; it also has to be fit for the purpose. It's not a problem to have kids eating from plates while cross-legged on the floor, but who wants that for their adult guests? Fortunately, there's a dining table to suit every style preference and budget.
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- 5 Ways to Decorate Your Outdoor Space
When the sun goes down and the lights come on, your outdoor entertainment area suddenly takes on a whole new kind of beauty. Carefully chosen and well-positioned lighting can transform a nice patio or deck into something magical. The type of lights should reflect the design of the entertainment area. Here are some examples:
- Recessed lights. Best for wooden ceilings or overhanging roofs. They’re particularly useful if they can be dimmed and individual lights controlled.
- Tree pendants. Not a great source of light, but boy, do they create a mood. Imagine looking out to a yard where lights hang from branches like little stars.
- String lights. A dependable staple. String lights never fail to add something special to outdoor entertainment areas.
- Tiki torches. They're inexpensive, fun and deter bugs. What's not to like?
Ceiling fans are another consideration, particularly in hot and humid locations. There are plenty to choose from, but it's important that the fan is designed to cope with the outdoors. The wrong fan is as bad as no fan at all.
Decoration is the icing on the cake. If there's a boring old fence around the perimeter of the space, why not hang some plants from it? Is there room for an eye-catching water feature? They don’t need to be complicated or expensive.
Rugs are always a good decision. A carefully positioned rug can bring out the colors around it. The right rug never fails to make a place look cozy. Potted plants are portable and bring a touch of greenery to the living room space.
As the sun goes down, it can get chilly, so investing in a space heater is a wise move. A patio heater can be portable, or you can find a heat lamp that combines both warmth and light.
How Do You Create an Outdoor Living Space on a Budget?
A tight budget needn't be a barrier to a multifunctional outdoor space. Can't stretch to the cost of a brick fireplace? A fire pit is a great alternative. It’s a great source of heat on cool nights, plus sitting around flames creates an atmosphere that's hard to beat. They’re great for roasting marshmallows, too.
If your existing furniture doesn't look so good, spruce it up with new cushions rather than replacing it outright. Maybe the garden looks plain. Fortunately, there are a wide number of perennial plants and flowers that will keep coming back year after year, and they only need to be planted once. They can turn even the barest space into a pleasant garden.
Why not illuminate the area with hurricane candles? They're not expensive to buy and can be fun to make. They're also incredibly versatile and add a lot of light and color.
For small gardens, consider buying furniture that has more than one use. Some benches with cushions are also loungers. Others have storage spaces to keep accessories that are only needed occasionally. Folding chairs that can be stored elsewhere are useful, too. Want a bar on a budget? Stack concrete blocks and finish it with a reconditioned tabletop. Not only does it cost very little, but it can also withstand the weather.