A Patio With (Multi) Purpose Editor-in-Chief Anne Reagan is back with fresh ideas to get your patio ready for a season of entertaining alfresco, whether you’re sitting down with friends for dinner or whiling away long hours with iced tea and conversation. Hosting any kind of outdoor gathering is as easy as a few key pieces and crisp, coordinating accessories.

Many of us get to take advantage of our outdoor spaces only a few months out of the year. So when it’s time to set up the porch, patio, or deck for the season, make sure you’re making the most of your space with these tips.

Design for Entertainment

When the weather is right, there’s nothing like hosting a backyard barbecue or party for your friends and family. And when it comes to entertaining on your patio, deck, or porch, be prepared with the right pieces to ensure your space works for you and your crowd. Going back and forth into the kitchen can add unnecessary traffic inside the home, so it’s worthwhile to set up a self-serve bar on a tray table with all the cups, plates, and silverware you need outside. Side tables, bar tables, or even small round tables can be the best “help” at your party.


Set Up an Outdoor Living Room

Having comfortable lounge chairs, side chairs, or benches can help create an intimate living room right outside. These pieces are perfect for pre- and post-dinner conversation or work as spillover seating when you’re entertaining large crowds. You’ll want to look for furniture that’s easy to move around in case you need to do a last-minute rearrangement. And consider an outdoor rug to pull your pieces together and really make the patio feel like an outdoor living space. A small fire pit can make this space feel even more like the indoors, though a perfect alternative to an open fire is a grouping of candles or lanterns.

Get Dining Space Right

The best outdoor area will have a strong, sturdy dining table and enough chairs for your crowd. A dining bench works great for seating kids or accommodating a few extra people and can take up less room than a standard chair. Stacking or folding chairs are nice for when you need to store pieces in the off-season. Look for a table that fits the highest number of people without impeding on your outdoor living room space. Materials that are easy to wipe down will make party cleanup that much easier. If you have room, consider placing a small side table near the dining area for extra food and drinks – this will prevent you from having to run back inside to fetch things.

Pull the Look Together

Several key features separate a ho-hum outdoor space from an amazing outdoor entertainment area. An umbrella, arbor, or other type of shading not only helps keep sun and heat off of your guests but also helps define an area and make it feel like a room. Containers or pots set on the ground in small groups help create a backdrop but also add a lush pop of color often needed on bare decks and porches. Lanterns or strings of lights not only help decorate the space but also add a beautifully warm ambience for when the sun dips down for the day. Consider coordinating your colors to make your outdoor area as coordinated as your indoor rooms and you’ll have a spectacular place for entertaining all summer long!

–Anne Reagan, editor-in-chief

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