One of my personal mantras is Outside Always. Snow, Rain or Shine my family and I are happiest, and healthiest, when we are enjoying the great outdoors. In our lovely home state of Utah this means skiing, hiking and camping any chance we get. At home, this means having a ready to use outdoor living space for family dinners, hosting game nights and for kids, chickens and dogs to play.
Outdoor Living Room
Outdoor living areas should reflect how you and your family enjoy spending time together. The possibilities are endless, but successful outdoor living spaces all have a few things in common. A successful outdoor living space is versatile, grounded and comfortable. An outdoor seating group should be versatile so it can be useful throughout the year. Versatility can be achieved with the type of furniture you select. I recommend varying lighter weight sofas, chairs and tables instead of one oversized sectional. Being able to rearrange the furniture as needed will help you accommodate different group sizes and different occasions.
Photo Serena & Lily
Photo McGee & Co.
Tip #1: Select Furniture for Durability, Clean-ability and Move-ability
Comfortable outdoor furniture is readily available and good-looking options have become much more affordable. When selecting outdoor furniture, durability and clean-ability should be at the forefront of your mind. All Weather Wicker is a designer favorite for its durability. The pieces are an investment up front but they will stay new looking for years. All Weather Wicker pieces can be heavy. I recommend mixing a wicker sofa with lighter weight metal or teak chairs that can more easily be rearranged for movie or game nights. Too much direct sunlight and too many bugs can quickly make things uncomfortable. Scroll down to see my tips for sun control and bug repellent in the outdoor dining section.
Tip #2: Define Outdoor Living Space with Rugs, Pillows & Fire Elements
I recommend grounding your outdoor seating group with an outdoor rug and color coordinating outdoor pillows. Outdoor rugs help center and frame a seating group and can easily be swept and hosed off. Another way to ground an outdoor living space is with a fire element. This could be a built-in fireplace, portable fire pit, or simple tiki torches placed strategically to frame an area
Photo Extra Space
Photo Pottery Barn
Tip #3: Select Fabrics for Wear & Longevity
When it comes to selecting outdoor cushion fabric, I recommend selecting something with a weave of multiple colors verses a solid. If you don’t have a woven fabric option, darker is better for longevity. Cushions with zippers are also helpful, because the cushion covers can be machine washed when needed.
Outdoor Dining Area
I have a love/hate relationship with eating outside. It feels laid back and summery which I love. But I hate to worry about bugs and inclement weather that is too hot or too cold. Luckily, there are solutions to these problems. The perfect recipe for outside dining includes bug repellent, good outdoor lighting and sun control.
Tip #4: Keep Pests at Bay
There are a few ways to keep bugs away during summer cookouts. Citronella candles are an effective option for the top of a dining table. I also recommend planting mosquito-deterring plants near your outdoor eating area. These plants include:
- Lavender (small pots of lavender can make a nice tabletop centerpiece)
- Citronella Grass
- Rosemary (useful in the kitchen too!)
- Scented Geraniums
- Bee Balm
- Mint (be careful with mint, it will run wild in your garden)
Photo The Picket Fence
Tip #5: Control Shade & Add Light
Once you have the bugs under control, intimate lighting and shade control can elevate your dining table to an actual outdoor dining room. Lighting outside can be expensive and tricky. A simple solution is charming market lights. Market lights provide a warm, flattering glow and a false ceiling that will have a cozy effect. For sun control without the investment of a permanent structure, I recommend a playful umbrella with pom poms or fringe. Or a sun sail that can be put up during the summer months and taken down before the first snow. Both options will help define the outdoor dining space, protect from Utah’s brutal July sun and spare you from an unexpected rain shower.
Photo Hallsstrom Home
Photo Local Milk Blog
Photo Clara Shade Sails
Tip #6 Select Dining Furniture That Fits Your Outdoor Space & Is Versatile
Selecting an outdoor dining table is dependent on two factors, the space you have available and the amount of people you are looking to seat most often. In small outdoor living spaces, I recommend a round table with narrow chairs. For larger outdoor living spaces or larger families, I recommend a table with bench seating. Benches are versatile, can fit several people when squished and tuck well under a table when not being used.
Photo Build with Rise
Photo West Elm