21 Jun Tips for designing an outdoor entertaining area that will serve you and your family & friends all year
Whether you’re all about low-key weekday dinners outdoors with your family, or dinner parties on the weekend with friends, having a great outdoor space to use and love all year round is a great addition to your home. By making clever design choices, you can create an outdoor entertaining area that is beautiful, intimate, sparks interest and encourages easy engagement between guests; and is comfortable for you, your family and friends each season.
When you first begin the design of your outdoor entertaining area, consider your home’s existing architectural and interior style. You want your new outdoor space to flow with the rest of your home, as well as harmonise with the surrounding landscape. Incorporate materials found elsewhere in your home, as well as timbers, stone and other naturally derived resources.
A great way to minimise moving from the kitchen to the outdoor area while entertaining is to have some of your cooking amenities outside. An entertainer’s kitchen, which it is often called, will include a barbeque grill, sink, prep area and a hidden bar fridge, perhaps even a built-in pizza oven. Having all or even just some of these outside means you can still be chef while enjoying the company of your family and friends, plus snacks and drinks will never be far away while relaxing outdoors by yourself on a warm afternoon.
Creating an outdoor entertaining area is like designing an outdoor room, so you should still create areas of interest and a focal point to anchor the space. For example, a central feature in a living room may be a beautiful feature wall, or a central island bench in a kitchen around which people gravitate. This is easy to replicate in your outdoor space as well.
Consider for your outdoor entertaining area some lovely plants, perhaps a vertical garden; or an exquisite outdoor setting or fire place. Water features can be beautiful and also provide white noise and a relaxing element. Whatever it may be, incorporating a ‘wow factor’ focal point will help draw your guests from inside to out, and make them want to stay and enjoy the space.
Whether entertaining friends or just enjoying your outdoor space yourself or relaxing with family, you want your space to be comfortable to use all year round. Consider the climate, from temperature to positioning of the sun throughout the day, and even direction of the breeze. Ensure you will have shade and shelter from the elements but that you can still enjoy your outdoor surroundings. Allowing breeze to flow through to the space will also help keep you cool in summer, but underfloor heating or a fireplace will help keep you cozy during the winter months.
When selecting furniture for outdoor spaces, be sure to pick pieces comfortable enough for an afternoon of relaxing, but durable enough to withstand outdoor conditions. Wicker, poly wicker and outdoor timbers are popular choices that easily can be made comfortable and inviting with plush soft furnishings.
Also make sure there is plenty of room for seating, not just for your family but options for more guests on larger occasions, like dinner parties or events. In addition to traditional chairs and tables, you could consider built-in benches, stools in a bar area, etc.
Incorporating inside touches in your outdoor space are what makes them comfortable. Soft furnishings, like throws, cushions and rugs, make a space feel inviting and warm, and of course comfortable. Changing up the textiles is also an easy way to update an outdoor space each season, i.e. new colourful throws will help instantly refresh the look.
More permanent fixtures like mirrors also work beautifully outdoors. You can use them to reflect your favourite part of the garden making the space feel larger, or even reflect candles illuminating the space and creating the illusion of more.
Lighting can greatly impact the mood of your gathering. When you’re entertaining into the evening, votives and lanterns will create a pleasant ambience. Consider adding lights further out within your garden as well so even at night you can still fully enjoy your surroundings – light up steps, pathways and even your garden beds.