Backyard Bliss

Summer is here, and the time is right for outdoor entertaining. Whether you are throwing a backyard BBQ for a large crowd or hosting an intimate dinner, you can create an outdoor space that’s as stylish as an indoor room.

Any outdoor area… deck, patio, porch or patch of grass… can be transformed with a little planning and creativity. First, define the space. Arrange your furniture to suit a conversation area or a dining space. An outdoor rug helps to anchor the space and give the feel of an actual room.

If privacy is an issue, create some “walls” to provide structure and intimacy. Walls can consist of hanging fabric panels, wooden trellises or reclaimed garden gates. A living privacy screen can be created with potted or planted arborvitae.

Every room needs good lighting, and an outdoor room is no exception. Nothing makes evening entertaining as special as a radiant glow.

String globe lights overhead to provide mood lighting and achieve a ceiling effect. A pergola is ideal for these lights, but they can also be hung in trees or strung between two structures using eyehooks.

Chinese lanterns are a colorful and whimsical hanging light option. Or go simple with hanging mason jars filled with tea lights. Instead of throwing away that old shiny brass chandelier, remove the wiring, spray paint it a fun color and hang it with candles or LED lights.

Candles are the lamps of outdoor rooms. Place them in hurricanes or lanterns and scatter them about to emit a warm light. Create luminaries out of tin cans. Simply fill a tin can with water and place it in the freezer. When the water is frozen, use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the can, creating any design you like. Thaw the water, dry out the can and insert a tea light. A row of these makes a pretty table centerpiece.

Reuse holiday lights. Gather twigs, wrap them in the lights and add them to a flower pot. For a modern look, stuff the lights inside old round glass opaque light shades to create glowing garden orbs. Find details at

Accessories are the finishing details of any space, and in an outdoor room that means mainly plants and pillows. Fill planters in different sizes and colors with beautiful blooms and group them in threes or fives. Invest in planters that can be used for many years or give worn out planters a new look with paint. Use vintage galvanized bins in various sizes for a collected look. Fill pots with lemon grass or citronella plants and place around seating areas to keep the bugs away.

Pillows are an inexpensive way to add color and comfort to your outdoor room. Mix shapes, sizes and colors for a fun and eclectic look. Choose weather-resistant pillows that won’t fade in the sun. If entertaining a crowd, outdoor fabric poufs are an inexpensive and versatile option for extra seating.

Umbrellas not only serve as protection from the sun, they provide an opportunity to bring more color into your space.

Have fun with your outdoor tabletop. Accessorize it with bud vases, mason jars or recycled cans filled with flowers. Terracotta pots of herbs are practical and attractive. A shallow bowl filled with an array of succulents makes for an interesting centerpiece. Write names in chalk onto river rocks to use as place cards.

Architectural salvage pieces make great art pieces for outdoor walls. If you have a protected wall, add a mirror or group of small mirrors to reflect the beauty you just created in your stylish outdoor room.

For more great ideas, visit Carolyn’s blo

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