Last Updated Jan 16, 2013 · Written by Craig Gibson
An outdoor entertaining area is a fantastic addition to any home and one that can be used all year round. When it comes to creating your own outdoor area, you are limited only by your imagination.
Before you go about creating your entertaining area, there are some things that you need to consider first. The most important is how you are going to marry the new outdoor area with the style of your existing home. The last thing that you want is to have an area that looks “tacked on” or disparate.
Once you have an idea of the style that you want, then you can start thinking about the things that you wish to include in your outdoor area, such as flooring, plant life, furniture, lighting, and so forth. This can be a complicated process, so hiring a landscaper to help you with this part of the process can prove to be very useful.
These are the most basic elements of your outdoor entertaining area and the elements that you most need to get right as it can be very difficult or costly to change these once they are in place. There are a myriad of options available for your outdoor flooring – you could opt for a stylish deck, paving, natural stone, concrete, brick, or even tile. When selecting your flooring, look to the style of your home, so that you are able to choose something complementary. The goal of the outdoor area is to have it flow seamlessly on from the indoor areas in your home.
Shelter is also vital as you want to be able to use your outdoor area no matter what the weather is doing. Some options for shelters include a pergola, gazebo, shade sails, and shade umbrellas.
Lighting is an important consideration when creating your outdoor entertaining area, as it is likely that a good percentage of your entertaining will be done during the nighttime hours. Not only will you need outdoor lighting so that people are able to safely find their way around your garden, it can also be used to create atmosphere.
The cheapest lighting option is to use candles or garden torches. A scattering of these will provide light but also give the garden a fantastic ambience. You could also use uplights or downlights to highlight features in your garden such as water features, swimming pools, plants, and trees. One place where lights need to be used is along pathways and also around the entertaining area itself. This is particularly important if you are planning on cooking outdoors.
To make sure that your outdoor entertaining area can be used all year round, it is a good idea to add some outdoor heating. You could opt for a patio heater, which are great as they warm people and objects, rather than just the surrounding air. Another option is a brazier, which is essentially a steel basket in which some form of solid fuel is burnt. Alternatively, you could opt for an outdoor fireplace or chiminea. These may cost more to buy initially, but they are efficient and cheap to run.
The furniture you choose for your outdoor entertaining area will depend on factors such as the number of people that you choose to entertain, what budget you have, and how much maintenance you are prepared to undertake to keep it looking its best. The most popular materials for outdoor furniture are timber, metal, glass and plastic. At a minimum, you will need a dining table, enough chairs to seat all your guests, and some smaller folding tables that you can use to place food or drinks upon. Other outdoor furniture options include daybeds, chaise lounges, hammocks, and comfortable couches in durable fabrics. But if you are planning on going simple, your outdoor seating could be as simple as making some timber boxes with comfortable seat cushions on top!
If you are planning on using your outdoor entertaining area for cooking, it is worth taking the time to research and buy a decent barbecue. A barbecue that comes with side burners is a great option as you will have greater versatility in the types of food that you can cook, and you can cover these side burners when they are not being used in order to create more bench space.
If you will be barbecuing a lot, it is worthwhile installing some shelving as well as cabinetry in order to store the basic items as well as crockery and dinnerware. If you feel that it is worthwhile, a small outdoor refrigerator as well as a sink can prove to be very valuable.
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