Create an Outdoor Living Room
Extend your living space and make your yard your favorite hang out for summer. Outdoor living rooms have been the hottest thing on American backyards the last couple of summers, and this summer isn't any different. Make your backyard the talk of the neighborhood!
When you start decorating a room - you start with flooring, walls and ceiling. Same thing for your outdoor living room; now you will just start with stones, deck, patio and the surroundings, like flowers in the garden (a quick tip: potted flowers are an easy and fast way to add some color). This is an entire blog post itself, so let's just say that taking care of your garden is the foundation for your outdoor living room.
Dining set is a must. This summer, wicker is the most popular material, and comes in many styles. I recommend making an investment for a good quality set that lasts for a long time, instead of buying an inexpensive (perhaps more fashionable) set. Something to add on this year - a chaise, a bench, a daybed. Even a hammock for extra relaxing.
Nothing says summer like BBQ - and a good grill is worth the money, if you are planning on using it. But don't buy an expensive grill only to make your yard look fancy if you are not planning on using it frequently (read: constantly). Less expensive grills work as well, and you can have an inexpensive charcoal grill and make delicious meals, and save the money for other items in your backyard. I know that nice stainless steel propane grills have become a trend, and we even own one. However - most chefs recommend using charcoal grill, and I personally think they also cook better.
The grill is a norm, but kick it up a notch, and bring in a portable backyard refrigerator to keep the drinks cold, and a bar to mix up the cocktails. If nothing else - add a side table only for drink buffet purposes and furnish it with a pretty table clothe.
PILLOWS, CURTAINS, RUGS
Like in your living room indoors - your outdoor living room will need some fabric to give it the finishing touches. All of the home goods stores sell pillows and rugs specifically for outdoor use, of more durable and weather resistant materials. I, however, am a lover of 100% cotton in my fabrics, and tend to use normal all-cotton fabrics outdoors, also.
You can add a storage box for your outdoor pillows to keep them from bad weather, with easy access when you need them. If you have a deck or porch with a roof, go ahead and recycle those old indoor rugs there for summer use, and get yourself new indoor rugs instead.
I like to change color and decor often and garage sales are also a great ways to bring inexpensive items into your backyard. Actually same goes for outdoor dinnerware - plastic won't break, but glass and porclein always looks better; I stock up with simple mix-match dinnerware, and old tea sets for backyard tea parties and dinners.
Wood burning fireplace, chimineas and fire pits bring ambiance like no other. For darker and colder nights, and backyard S'Mores, bring on some fire. You can find chimineas and fire pits from most home stores and large retailers for inexpensive prices.
Products in the picture: Custom fireplace by 5 Star Outdoor Living in Texas, Uniflame Fire Pit ($585), Alhambra Metal Fire Pit ($88) at Walmart.com
Fire Magic Grill Island with Gas Built-In Grill ($6,000), Char-Broil Urban Gas Grill ($269) at Lowe's, Weber Smokey Joe ($49.99) from Crate and Barrel
Skyline Design Lulaby Bench, Corsica Chaise ($1,099) from Pottery Barn, Hammock ($99) L.L.Bean