9 Tips for Designing Your Dream Outdoor Entertainment Space

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated December 27, 2021
friends hanging out at a barbecue
Roman / stock.adobe.com

Set up your space for food, fun, and more

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When the weather permits, it’s time to get outside and enjoy your yard with friends and family. But you don’t need a sprawling backyard to create an outdoor space that’s great for entertaining. Here are some tips to design your dream outdoor space, no matter the size.

1. Consider Your Entertaining Needs

friends making smores at firepit
Monkey Business / stock.adobe.com

Whether you like to make a splash by hosting pool parties, serve as grill master at family barbecues, or toast s’mores around the firepit, there are some considerations for your outdoor kitchen you’ll want to discuss upfront. By focusing on what you like to do most, you will know what kind of furniture, equipment, and other items to add to the space. 

2. Create Comfortable Seating Areas

garden with different types of seating
Photographee.eu / stock.adobe.com

A patio is a great place to set up tables and chairs, but it’s not the only spot for seating. Depending on the size of your yard, you can have multiple seating areas featuring different types of furniture. 

For example, you might have a fire pit that you’ll want to put a bench near or a big shady tree that’s perfect for placing a swing or a hammock underneath. Pay attention to where the sunny and shady parts are during the day so you can place furniture accordingly. 

3. Add a Food and Beverage Station

friends gathering around drinks
rh2010 / stock.adobe.com

Not everyone has the room or the budget to build a full outdoor kitchen with a gourmet pizza oven. But you can still carve out a spot to store snacks and a cooler of drinks so that you don’t have to go running back to the kitchen every time the mood strikes. 

From bar carts on wheels to coolers that double as serving tables, you can find the perfect solution for your space.

4. Infuse Natural Elements

pergola in lush garden
Iriana Shiyan / stock.adobe.com

Allow your lawn and garden to become part of the design whenever possible. For example, you can create an herb garden near the grill or cooking area so you can grab a handful of fresh greens when you’re cooking. If you’ve got a pergola, stretch ivy or flowering vines through it for a beautiful covering. This will make it easy to tend to your backyard plants and provide a gorgeous setting.

5. Provide Shade and Shelter

family hanging out on patio under umbrella
Olesia Bilkei / stock.adobe.com

There’s no need to retreat indoors when the mercury rises as long as you’ve got coverage from the sun’s strong rays. This is where adjustable umbrellas and retractable awnings are perfect, as are breezy gazebos and canopies. 

Be sure to place an umbrella or some other type of overhang, like a retractable awning, over the cooking area so the grill master won’t melt in the heat or get soaked if there’s rain in the forecast.

6. Hit the Lights

friends having dinner in the yard
Jacob Lund / stock.adobe.com

For all this talk about soaking up the sun, outdoor spaces were meant for enjoying well past sundown, too. There are many lighting options to keep the fun going as darkness falls, so it really just depends on your personal design preferences. 

Tiki torches are always a fun choice, as are LED lights that can be strung up along deck rails or around a gazebo. Solar lights on stakes can shine on pathways and in the garden, while lanterns can illuminate seating areas. 

7. Turn Up the Sound

couple having outdoor movie night in yard
zzzdim / stock.adobe.com

Sure, you could pop in your earbuds when you’re in the yard by yourself, but it’s way more fun to enjoy music and outdoor movie nights when the sound is pumping through speakers. From Bluetooth speakers that double as tiki torches to solar-charged ones that look like rocks, you can turn up the volume for your outdoor space. 

8. Add a Heat Source

patio set up with heating lamp
Iriana Shiyan / stock.adobe.com

Unless you live in a region that’s graced with warm weather year-round, there will be a time when entertaining has to go indoors. Stretch your outdoor season as much as possible with the addition of a heat source. Tall gas lamps on the edges of your patio add illumination and warmth, while a fire pit can also keep everyone cozy for longer.

9. Keep It Private

blue patio furniture in yard
Joanne Dale / stock.adobe.com

When you’re hosting a big party or simply want to enjoy some quiet time in your backyard, you might not want the whole neighborhood’s eyes on you—and vice versa. Fences are a traditional yet effective way to add privacy to your yard, but you can also plant thick shrubs or trees to block the view. 

Get inspired by these tips to create your own outdoor haven that you can enjoy all year-round.

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