When we were kids, outdoor entertaining usually meant picnics in the backyard, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and trying to stay cool on a summer afternoon. Outdoors was definitely a separate place from indoors and it was a completely separate experience from the house. The furniture was hard, you sat where you could find space, and you risked getting splinters if the furniture was more than three years old.
These days, thanks to new technology and materials, we're seeing an increased trend of people turning their patio or deck into an extension of their interior. They're spending a lot more time outside, so they're putting a lot of effort into making the space as comfortable, homey, and more inviting to spend a lot of extra time.
A family's outside area — patio, deck, three-seasons room — is becoming more than just a weekend space, it's an every-evening space, as people turn their outdoor spaces into another family room/outdoor kitchen. Families are gathering outside for dinner, drinks, conversations, and just spending more time together.
Think of your deck or patio as an additional room on your house. You can furnish the room, decorate it, and provide options to match your entertainment style, decorating preferences, kitchenware, and even home electronics.
To start with, your outdoor space should be just as welcoming as your indoor space, and should use elements of both. Consider adopting the biophilic design, which means bringing the natural elements into your design. That means incorporating natural elements into a constructed space. It could mean something like adding potted plants and even a plant wall to your living room, but it can also mean adding a plant wall and a potted palm tree to your patio or deck with a couch, coffee table and TV.
We've seen some wonderful outdoor spaces where the homeowner has created a large stone patio with stone walls and a built-in grill, food prep space, drinks station, and furniture that's more elegant and comfortable than "traditional" wooden outdoor furniture.
Regardless, it's important that you don't think of your patio or deck as "only" an outdoor space with hard wooden benches and a small grill stuck in the corner. And it's difficult to turn your outdoor space into a complete indoor space, unless you have an enclosed patio/three-seasons room.
Rather than just hauling your indoor furniture outside for an evening event, you can get furniture made specifically to be used outside. It's usually UV resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and isn't harmed by rain, wind, and sun.
Nothing is better than sitting back and relaxing, catching a nap outside, a light breeze blowing your face, and enjoying the sounds of the neighborhood. For that, outdoor furniture, you can't go wrong with a chaise lounge or even an 80" wicker outdoor sofa. Of course, you need some outdoor chairs for your guests, but nothing can beat the feeling of a comfortable rocking chair on a warm summer night.
Right now, our design experts are telling us that the big color of the summer is blue. All shades of blue, and it often goes with the Modern Farmhouse look you may have going on inside. You'll want some outdoor rugs. (And yes, we do have blue.)
If you're entertaining guests, you don't want to keep running in and out, letting in bugs and heat. So it makes sense to have an outdoor kitchen that outperforms the basic apartment-sized hibachi that can barely cook two burgers. It can be a large gas grill, food prep area, and even a beverage station, such as an outdoor beer tap or refrigerator. For cooking, consider the Broil King grills. And don't forget the assortment of grilling tools.
Of course, not everyone wants to eat with a paper plate propped precariously on their lap. You can help the "bringing inside out" feeling by setting up a dining area, complete with outdoor dining table and chairs. We like the Oran 84" Teak Live Edge Outdoor Table and other dining furniture because teak is a weatherproof wood that doesn't need any extra staining or protection to keep its beautiful finish. And everyone will need a place to sit, so consider a few outdoor dining chairs like this.
When it comes to music, don't dust off your old boombox from college. And those small Bluetooth speakers just don't pack the decibel punch the way a proper stereo will. You can plug an indoor stereo into a pair of outdoor speakers (leave the receiver inside) to get a full, rich stereo sound. Plus you can always show off your new turntable and vinyl record collection. Check out a pair of Klipsch outdoor speakers or a variety of indoor/outdoor speakers.
Don’t forget to consider adding pillows and rugs to add some additional color. The upside of getting outdoor decor is that you don't have to dust them off — the rain can take care of that for you, or if you really needed to deep clean it, just hit it with the hose. And the right rugs and pillows would not only provide color and soften the look of your outdoor space, but they could actually soften the seating and standing areas, adding comfort. No one wants to sit outside on stone slabs and wooden benches.
Bringing the inside out means you can enjoy the full experience of being outdoors, but still being close to home. Outdoor cooking, outdoor entertaining, outdoor relaxing. With the right furniture, kitchen, and accessories, you could turn this area into an additional "room" of your home, especially if you have a screened-in porch or a three-seasons room. Then, you can stay outside longer each year, and find a way to keep things heated or cooled, and therefore a little more comfortable, starting the summers early and ending them a little later.
Even if you live in an apartment or condo, and you have a walk-out balcony, you can still bring the indoors outside with just a simple chair, an outdoor rug, a small grill, plus a plant or two for that biophilic design touch.
If you would like some help in designing your outdoor entertaining space and outdoor kitchen, please call the design experts at Parker Gwen at (877) 583-3223 or visit our website for more information.