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10 Design Essentials For an Entertaining Outdoor Living Space

See the 10 latest outdoor living design essentials for the ultimate entertainment space in your backyard for gatherings and parties.
swimming pool with an adjacent area for sun bathing with loungers in the outdoor living space.

Most backyard spaces are created with people in mind and outdoor living spaces. There are friends and family get-togethers, holiday celebrations, birthdays, summer barbecues and now, the everyday work-from-your-yard scenario. If you want to create a fun and comfortable outdoor space made for yourself and your favorite people, you need to consider the design of the outdoor space before you begin putting it all together.

For example, the mood you want to create is very important, so a color scheme that reflects your personality will be important. Bright colors will create a lively and energetic atmosphere, while mute-toned nature colors will reflect the natural surroundings. Choosing a color scheme that contrasts with the greenery around you will also allow you to customize the look of your outdoor space depending on the season.

You can start the process of designing your outdoor space by adding comfortable seating, a table or two for setting food, and standing heaters for when it’s chilly outside. When the foundational elements are set up, then add other enhancements.

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10. Outdoor Living Matching Dining Sets

outdoor dining table with matching chairs
Image by Villa JOJU

An entertaining backyard and outdoor living space is a great place to entertain friends and family, and the right outdoor furniture is key to making this area feel as inviting as possible. While plastic and aluminum furniture are easy to clean, wooden and faux wood pieces add a touch of luxury to the landscape. 

Before buying outdoor furniture, consider the size of the area you have. Make sure to buy the correct size for the room, because the wrong one can make it difficult to move around or accommodate guests. Avoid this by taking measurements of the area  in advance to prevent buying pieces that are too big or too small. The shape of the furniture should be functional, without being inaccessible or compromising the layout.

When buying outdoor dining, it’s efficient to consider full sets. Full dining sets include a matching sofa, a coffee table, and two side tables. Furniture sets offer continuity in color, texture and material which allow the entertainment space to feel more inviting and cohesive.

9. Bistro Chairs

colorful bistro chair and table set
Image by Grand Patio of Amazon

In addition to tables, chairs and umbrellas, you should also invest in a set of bistro chairs. These are lightweight, rust-resistant metal chairs that look and feel great. You can find a matching 20-inch folding bistro table to complete your set. Consider adding a scent of lemongrass or citronella to the table with triple-wicked candles. Citronella is a natural insect repellent made from lemongrass, and it keeps mosquitoes away for up to 80 hours.

Bistro chairs create an inviting atmosphere for any outdoor living space that can feel like an outdoor dining experience or a charming European coffee date. They can accommodate extra guests, they are durable and they allow for seat cushions as added comfort.

It’s easy to add a modern bistro set to your entertaining outdoor space, and it is a stylish way to update your outdoor space.

Click here to shop more bistro sets.

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8. Outdoor Living Fireplaces and Firepits

swimming pool with an adjacent area for sun bathing with loungers in the outdoor living space.
Image by Villa JOJU

Incorporating an outdoor fireplace is no easy feat, but interior designers have tackled the issue and come up with some stunning designs that are worth stealing. Before you get started, it’s important to settle on the material for the fireplace. You can choose sleek concrete, traditional brick, or shiny steel, or even go with textured stone. Make sure to consider your budget and design aesthetic when making your final decision.

An outdoor fireplace is an excellent way to add a cozy and comfortable atmosphere to your entertaining space. They can be a statement piece or a functional centerpiece for your outdoor dining area. If you don’t have a chimney, consider building one in the shape of an existing chimney. Another option is to place the fireplace up against the house. This will make it look less odd and more integrated into the overall design of your outdoor living space.

A fireplace can be made of wood or gas. Gas fire pits are most popular and are typically stationary with a decorative cover. Now, you can get an outdoor fireplace that serves as something completely different such as a hibachi grill. Some fireplaces are portable and attached to a propane tank or permanent gas line. Depending on your budget, you can select a portable or stationary unit but make no mistake, an outdoor fireplace is a must for an entertaining outdoor space.

7. Beverage Stations

colorful beverage carts on a wooden patio deck
Image by Permasteel of Amazon

Setting up beverage stations in your outdoor living space for your entertaining backyard parties can be easy or elaborate, depending on the occasion. While a graduation party or a wedding are great opportunities to set up one of these stations, sometimes the desire for a happy-hour cocktail is all the reason you need. Ideal beverage stations feature a variety of different drinks, fresh fruit to garnish them with, and glassware that is appropriate for the occasion. You can even use a wheelbarrow to hold icy drinks – they add a charming touch to a backyard party.

One way to add beverage stations is by turning a standard table or a rustic change table into a bar cart. You could also build a bar area into the design of your landscape from the beginning. Either way, they will make your guests feel welcome and make their time outdoors enjoyable. If you’re a fan of recycling, a used table is the perfect piece to make a station. You can find a wire shelving unit at any big box store and paint it gold and decorate it with adorable accessories for a perfectly curated finished product.

6. Movable Bench Seating

moveable pool loungers near an in-ground swimming pool
Image by Villa JOJU

As the name suggests, movable bench seating allows you to move it from one location to another. Depending on the number of people you are entertaining in your outdoor living space, you can choose a location that is shaded, far away from the activity, or secluded. Some people prefer to sit on movable benches, and others will use regular benches. 

One of the most important design considerations when deciding on a movable bench is its comfort level. You should select a bench that allows for 20 inches of space per person. The seatback should have a slight curve to give your guest’s body the necessary support. In addition, the backrest’s height should be around 20 inches, so that it is comfortable for your guest’s back and shoulders. A bench without a back can be a great option if you prefer to allow people to sit on both sides of the bench while facing different directions. Legs should not extend past the seat, as it may cause people to trip. Also, consider a spot for kickspace where guests can rest their feet for additional comfort and relaxation.

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5. Hammocks

neutral colored fabric hammock between two large trees near a natural lake
Image by Pawley Island Hammocks on Amazon.

A hammock provides an ideal place for lounging or napping in your backyard, patio, or backyard retreat. Hammocks are lightweight and comfortable, and they are easy to set up. They are an inexpensive way to add a comfortable spot for a family to spend time together or relax after a long day. 

Hammocks come in a variety of materials and colors, including polyester and mesh. You can choose one in a neutral color to match your existing outdoor setup. Alternatively, you can purchase a colorful hammock with a printed pattern to match your decor. Either way, hammocks are an entertaining essential for your outdoor space. If you’re not a fan of bright colors, consider a simple, neutral hammock made of 100 percent cotton.

You can choose a single hammock for two people or a double hammock for a larger group. A single hammock is approximately six feet long and four to five feet wide and can hold 300 to 400 pounds. A double hammock is six feet long and five to six feet wide, and supports as much as 500 pounds. Most people prefer double hammocks. Choose whichever style suits your needs best. If you have more than one guest, choose the one with the largest weight capacity and sturdiest frame.

Click here to shop more hammocks.

4. Umbrellas

colorful green outdoor furniture underneath a covered pavilion
Image by Paola Lenti

A patio umbrella is perfect for adjusting to changing weather conditions. You can also choose to purchase an outdoor rug that will feel comfortable under bare feet and protect you from harsh weather conditions while beneath your patio umbrella.

Another benefit of patio umbrellas is that they provide shade and protect from the sun. They are flexible and durable, and can last for up to 10 years. Patio umbrellas can also be shaped to create an interesting shape. The one downfall of patio umbrellas is they can be difficult to clean, because oftentimes the large area they cover tends to collect foliage. So, you will need to clean them regularly for them to last.

3. Snazzy Tableware

plastic tableware set for outdoor patio use
Image by Foodle of Amazon

When you are designing your outdoor entertainment area, you will want to include appropriate tableware. While some tableware is made of plastic, there are other options available for outdoor use.

You may choose ceramic or pottery for your dinnerware. These materials have an attractive appearance, but they are not always hygienic. Other materials such as wood, pewter, and metal are also available. In the past, people used pewter and other materials to make tableware, including silver, gold, and glass. Today, most outdoor tableware is dishwasher-safe. In addition, you can use glass or alternatives to plastic for sustainability purposes.

Dinnerware to consider: dinner plates, salad plates, dessert bowls, silverware, glassware, decorative napkins and table placements for added creativity. You can also find saucers to accompany each type of plate, which are specifically made to complement different types of teacups, coffee cups, and demitasses. You can also find special-occasion plates, such as a patterned tablecloth.

Click here to shop more outdoor dinnerware.

2. Lighting

Image by Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture

The best way to create a truly magical atmosphere in your outdoor entertaining area is to have the right lighting. Without the proper lighting, you can’t enjoy the outdoor experience as well, especially at night which often creates the most memorable experiences with your guests. A well-planned lighting system will transform your space into an oasis of calm and relaxation however, there are various types of lighting to consider. 

Accent lighting is an essential design element for outdoor entertaining spaces. It creates drama and highlights architectural details. Use spotlights for accent lighting. You can also use up lighting to create drama around tall structures, such as a pergola. Path lights, on the other hand, are small posts with a built-in light. Place these along pathways and around ponds for a more atmospheric effect.

Outdoor wall lighting provides a pleasant mid-level light to areas that need it. You can also install these fixtures along an interior pergola to light up the area below. This type of lighting is also useful for lighting recessed areas like low-lying areas or sunken seating areas. If you’re planning to install a full outdoor lighting system, make sure to use the right amount of lighting – too much or too little will affect the ambiance drastically.

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1. Planters

large architectural planters with finely textured grasses
Image by Atelier Vierkant

Outdoor planters are an easy way to decorate your space without needing to hire a professional landscaper. If you have a budget and a willingness to do some planting yourself, there are several inexpensive, easy ways to dress up your outdoor space.

Planters come in various shapes and sizes. Examples of great planters for a raised porch or ground-level patio, outdoor steps or balconies are: lavender, succulents, hydrangea, marigolds, roses, herbs and more.

The greatest part about incorporating container plants into your outdoor space is the creativity you can have while building a unique entertaining space for your friends and family.

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