I think it is safe to say that Spring has finally arrived. For some of you, that is big news. The snow has melted and it’s actually possible to spend time outdoors. For those of us in Southern California, it pretty much means that we can add one more day to our lawn watering schedule. For all of us, it’s time to think about outdoor entertaining.
There is no doubt that we love to entertain in our home. And any time we can, we will entertain outdoors. In Southern California, that means we entertain outdoors from January through December. So I thought it might be fun to share what I think are the best five ways to create the perfect outdoor space for entertaining.
Create a Gathering Space
We all love to be outdoors so it’s important to create areas where you and your guests can gather. We have three outdoor areas that we use all of the time. The first is our covered back porch. It is protected by the covered ceiling and has plenty of ways to stay warm.
The wood burning fireplace provides a very cozy and warm atmosphere. We put gas in the fireplace as it is easy to get a fire started. I also added two built-in ceiling heaters which are amazing. Fortunately, the on/off switch has the ability to adjust the heat because sometimes they get too hot!
I used to have only a table in this area which really was dumb. Last summer I bought this vintage patio furniture (from three different places). I painted each piece (see blog post here) and then scored big when I found these cushions at Pier 1 that were the perfect size! Having a comfortable seating area that can seat six people is wonderful. I spend a lot of time out here by myself as its the perfect spot for morning coffee and the paper, lunch or even a glass of wine.
Another area we use a lot is the uncovered area in the center of our patio. I rarely photograph this area because it is pretty plain but it is a great seating area because it offers a fun view of the backyard.
The third gathering area is our outdoor kitchen. I love to cook especially where there are people nearby to talk to. I love to cook in this area while my boys are seated at the counter. We also have moved out the stools and set the counter up as a bar. It is so perfect for entertaining!
Mix the Old and New
You all know that I am a big vintage flea market shopper. So the majority of the decor in our outdoor spaces is vintage. I also love mixing new and old items when entertaining. Here I used new napkins (from Kitch Studios) and placemats (from Ikea) with vintage china and chargers.
I also love adding things that make the outdoor experience more authentic. Here I used new but vintage looking glass bottles and new mason jars for my glassware. Putting the silverware in the mason jars was just a whimsical last minute idea.
Light it Up
Lighting is the best way to create ambiance in any setting. So why not create great lighting outside? I have great light in our covered area. and the chandelier is my absolute favorite. You can find it at the best price ever here.
I hung a smaller white chandelier from the trees to create some ambient light over the patio dining table. It is attached to an extension cord and just plugs into an outdoor socket. It can be removed during the not so great weather months. (Of course, we don’t really have months like that in Southern California.)
The most fun I ever had with lighting in our backyard was when I created lighting in our yard. For my sister’s rehearsal dinner, we put up lights on poles.
And for Mother’s Day, I made three chandeliers from vintage light shades and hung them in the middle of our yard.
Think Outside the Box
There is no reason why an outdoor space has to consist of only outdoor furniture and decor. I think an outdoor space feels more inviting when you bring the indoors outside. Try to make your seating area feel like your family room. If it is covered, then use a regular couch and chairs! Add decor items from your house. Add books and regular lighting to your outdoor area. I have a floor lamp from our family room on our back porch. Add I hung curtains in front of our outside windows to give the room more of a “living room” feel. Use pillows and a rug to complete the look.
Use All of Your Space
Don’t limit your self to dining only in the space where your table is located. Use all of your space.
For this dinner party, I moved the table on to the grass.
And for this luncheon, I put the same table on the other side of our lawn, next to our carriage house.
Entertaining outside can be so much fun. I highly suggest you open your doors and create some fun spaces to enjoy the warm weather ahead.