It’s hard to believe, but summer will soon be upon us, and with that comes a return to one of our favourite things—entertaining outdoors. So, in anticipation of the gatherings to come, we have put together some of our top tips for getting the most of your outdoor spaces for entertaining and fun.
Take it Outside
Your outdoor spaces should be a reflection of your indoor spaces, with comfy furniture, accessories, lighting, entertainment, and art. You can make your set up as simple or elaborate as you like, but the goal is to create a comfortable space where you and your family and friends want to spend time.
Start by thinking about which activities you most want to use your space for and jot down your priorities. This will help you determine how much of the total space to devote to each activity.
Then, grab a pad of paper and sketch out the area, just as you would indoors, creating activity zones or “rooms” for dining, conversation, relaxation, and play. If you are working with a smaller yard, deck, or balcony, these areas may overlap—dining and conversation or dining and play, for example—or you may have room for just one thing.
Create a Conversation Area
There are many options for creating a comfortable conversation area outdoors, from a cozy grouping of classic Adirondack chairs to a spacious, indulgent sectional. (And, in a larger space, who’s to say you can’t have both?)
Outdoor sofas and sectionals, like the popular Beachcroft sectional, above, are available in a range of sizes and configurations, so be sure to measure your deck or patio carefully before heading to the store—what looks huge indoors might be just right in the great outdoors. And, remember, if you have the room, it’s best to err on the side of too much seating than not enough.
Another consideration is storage: will you leave the furniture out all year in a protected space, or will you have to move it into a shed or garage for the winter? If you have to store your furniture, modular sectionals can make that task a LOT easier by being both easier to carry and store.
To define your conversation area, add a large, outdoor area rug, like the subtly-striped Canopy rug, above. A pergola or privacy screens will help give you that cozy, “room” feel and will give you protection and relief from the elements. Don't forget to add a few potted plants and flowers around the perimeter to add colour and life to your space, as well.
For comfort, add plenty of toss cushions and a comfy ottoman. Be sure to keep a few cozy throws on hand for when the temperature drops, and if you really want to extend the season, consider a patio heater or coffee table with a built-in, smokeless fire pit to keep you toasty when the temperature dips.
Of course, you will want to serve drinks and snacks in your outdoor space, so make sure you include enough tables in your layout to allow everyone a place to put down their drink. The Salem Beach set, above, includes a sturdy end table and coffee table with storage to hold warm throws and accessories.
TIP: If you are foregoing the coffee table for an ottoman, a large sturdy tray with sides will make serving snacks and drinks a lot easier and help contain spills, if they happen.
Create a Cozy, Intimate Space
Don't let a small backyard or balcony prevent you from creating a beautiful, comfortable outdoor space. With just a couple comfy chairs and a side table, you can create an outdoor room that serves one of more functions—a place for enjoying morning coffee and evening cocktails, an intimate conversation area, and your go-to spot for relaxing on the weekends.
If regular outdoor dining is on your wish list, choose a chic bistro set, like the Anchor Lane, to enjoy al fresco cocktails and meals all season long.
Having a small patio or patch of grass is a great opportunity to create your own private oasis for reading, napping, and quiet time. Outfit your ultimate space-for-one with a comfy chaise, loveseat, or glider, and don’t forget to add a handy side table to hold your beverage and book, and some comfy pillows. The Grasson Chaise, above, can be adjusted to the perfect angle for reading or sunbathing, or used flat for extra bench seating.
If your small-scale outdoor space needs to accommodate play or hobbies as well as dining or relaxation, be sure to pick pieces that can easily be moved out of the way or folded up when needed.
Design a Dining Area
When the weather is nice, you’ll want to take advantage of your “second dining room” by eating as many meals as possible al fresco. Not only is it more fun, everything seems to taste better outside—from morning coffee to late night s’mores.
To encourage your family to eat more of your meals in the great outdoors, invest in a sturdy, comfortable dining set with an easy-to-clean table and padded or sling chairs—the comfier the chair, the longer they will want to linger! The Beachcroft collection, above, has options for armchairs, armless chairs, and a padded bench, so you can create the perfect configuration for your space.
If your outdoor dining area won't accomodate a large table, but you like to entertain friends and family, consider using smaller square or round tables instead of one big one, and bring out the additional pieces when more seating is required.
To get the most enjoyment out of your evening meals, especially early or late in the season, choose a fire pit dining table. A table with a built-in fire insert, like the Windon Barn (above) will give all of your evening gatherings a warm ambiance and extend the patio season well into the fall. Paired with its matching chairs, it's the perfect set for enjoying cocktails, casual meals and snacks, and family game nights.
Make Your Space More Entertaining
Besides having designated areas for sports and play, there’s plenty of opportunity to create seating (and standing) areas for backyard recreation and entertaining. Bar-height tables, for example, are a great way to recreate the feel of your favourite pub or watering hole in your own backyard.
The Paradise Trail bar-height table, above, has room for eight and a concealed fire pit feature to bring a lively sparkle to your evening gatherings, and can be used with chairs or as a stand-up table for casual get-togethers and activities.
To take your outdoor room from fun to fabulous, consider adding an outdoor TV, like The Terrace from Samsung. Designed specifically for use in sheltered outdoor spaces, The Terrace offers a bright and brilliant picture, enhanced sound, and is safe to operate at temperatures between -31℃ and 50℃.
As well, The Terrace's impressive anti-reflection technology greatly reduces TV reflection and glare while also enhancing picture contrast levels to give you a great view from any angle. Whether you are watching movies or sports, you and your guests won’t miss a moment of the action.
If an outdoor smart TV isn’t in the budget this summer, you can transform your backyard into a fresh air movie theater with some surprisingly affordable tech. To get started, you’ll need a projector, speakers, a screen—a white sheet or a blank wall will work in a pinch—and some comfortable seating.
TIP: Create a theatre-style set up by placing seats in rows of increasing height: blanket seating in the front, sofas or chairs in the middle, and bar-height seats behind. Lightweight pieces, like the Barn Cove chairs and loveseat above, can be easily moved around to create comfy, flexible seating areas in every corner of the yard.
Let's Take This to the Next Level
Whether you are starting from scratch or sprucing up your existing set-up, we have stylish and functional ways to bring the indoors out. Discover our full selection of outdoor living and dining furniture online, or visit our in-store furniture experts today.
Pro Tip: Book an appointment at your local store for a relaxed, no-pressure shopping experience with a dedicated sales professional.
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