After a long winter, the arrival of summer can feel like a breath of fresh air. You get to throw open the windows and smell the fresh cut grass, and the world is lovely and mild again.
Why try to enjoy those balmy breezes and bright sunbeams from indoors? The warm weather practically begs you to move outdoors for the season. After all, there’s nothing better than a relaxing evening in your backyard to erase any stress you may have felt during the work day. With the right furniture, lighting and a few special touches, you may never want to go inside again.
Choose Your Spot
The first step to creating an outdoor living room is to select the perfect set up and location. If you already have a screened-in porch or open patio, you’re well on your way. If you have only a patch of grass to work with, consider adding a floor of flagstone, concrete pavers or even wood decking tiles to create an even surface and delineate the boundaries of your new space.
When choosing the location, it’s important to consider the weather. A roof or awning is good for rainy areas and it will provide shade if you plan to use your space during the day. If mosquitoes are a problem where you live, add screens to your existing spot or consider using a gazebo tent for your outdoor room. In most cases, choosing a spot just outside your home allows for easy access to the kitchen for snacks and an outlet or two for electricity.
Add Comfortable Seating
Outdoor furniture options can seem endless, but it’s important to choose the right pieces to fit your environment and style. Big, outdoor couches with plush cushions look amazing, but they work best in warm, dry areas where they can stay put for most of the year and covered for the occasional rain storm. Furniture with cushions should be made with weather-resistant fabric like Sunbrella to protect them from water damage and fading.
If you live in a cooler area where you’ll only use your outdoor furniture for part of the year, opt for something portable that you’ll be able to easily fold up or break down to store. If you don’t have a basement or large storage space in your home, invest in a sturdy cover to keep snow and ice from damaging the furniture. The best outdoor furniture covers are shaped to fit snugly over your chairs and are made of heavy-duty, waterproof plastic. They can range in price from as low as $10 a piece to over $100 for larger couch covers.
To avoid the hassle of rushing outside in the rain to cover your furniture, your best bet is to choose items made from rust-proof aluminum or a composite that mimics the look of wood. Metal furniture works best for dining tables and chairs, but for a more laid-back spot, Adirondack chairs provide the ultimate style. These contoured chairs are super comfortable and are often made with recycled plastic or wood and can range anywhere from $100 to $400. Dress them up with throw pillows and you have the looks of a major outdoor couch for a lesser cost.
Consider The Lighting
You’ll need at least a bit of light to find your wine glass on a summer night, so think ahead about how you want to light up the space. In general, it doesn’t take much to set the mood. Large pillar candles grouped on a table will create a romantic glow. To add a decorative touch and to protect the flame from the wind, add glass hurricane covers… trendy Mason jars work, too!
If you have a nearby outlet, hang several strings of decorative lights to set the mood. These can cost as little as $10 per string and they come in a variety of colors and retro-chic looks. Try hanging them in arcing swags around the borders of your outdoor room or wrap them around nearby trees or fence posts.
Furniture and lighting are the bare minimum, but for a truly special outdoor room, try adding a few of these fun accessories to make your space totally unique:
A Supply of Blankets: Keep a crate or woven basket of fleece throws handy for those cool nights — you’ll be glad to have the extra layers when the sun goes down.
A Mini Bar: If you have an outlet nearby, consider setting up a small fridge in a sheltered spot. Place it near a table arranged with some barware, stir sticks and an ice bucket. Your guests will never want to leave.
Portable Speakers: Don’t forget to add the mood music! Portable speakers that use Bluetooth technology will sync with any smartphone and allow you to access your tunes with the touch of a button. A good speaker will cost around $100, but is certain to get any party started.
An Outdoor Rug: Add a touch of class with a rug that will help define your seating area. This is a great way to incorporate a pop of color and make your patio or deck seem more like an actual extension of your home. Choose a weather-resistant synthetic rug for best results.
The beauty of setting up an outdoor room is that it’s a project you can tackle in just one day of shopping and set-up. Take a Saturday to gather your supplies and pick out that new outdoor furniture set, and by Sunday afternoon you’ll be relaxing in the sun with a cold drink, enjoying the company of friends and family in your new living space.