Summertime and the livin' is easy -- or it should be. Unfortunately, we rarely organize our outdoor rooms -- decks, patios and gardens -- as we would rooms inside our homes. That translates into endless trips to the kitchen. Get organized with these easy tips.
Assess your needs
These questions will start you thinking about how to organize and equip your outdoor entertaining spaces.
1 Where in your backyard do you relax, entertain and cook?
- Organize your backyard into zones based on function, such as relaxing with friends, dining, playing and cooking.
- List what's needed in each outdoor room in order to make it a well-functioning, stylish space (include everything from furniture to candles).
- Find storage solutions for items that can't remain outdoors; locate them as close as possible to where they'll be used (see Take It Outside! on page 2 for more ideas).
2 What type of gathering(s) do you host most regularly and at what time of the day?
- For pool parties, place table surfaces poolside to hold drinks.
- Provide adequate shelter, such as an umbrella, from the sun.
- Invest in unbreakable acrylic tableware.
- Light paths and stairs for safety; options include candles in containers (to protect flames from wind), like hurricane or mood-setting patio lanterns. Also consider outdoor table and floor lamps and even chandeliers, which are all readily available.
- Create a lounge area that's separate from the cooking and dining areas.
- Add a heat source, like a patio heater, fireplace or pit -- it provides a great focal point.
3 How big are your gatherings?
Determine exactly how much and what type of seating you need -- for instance, dining, lounging, portable, built-in (benches incorporated in stone walls or on decks) and garden (a small bench or hammock).
Take it outside!
Here are storage solutions for your outdoor rooms:
- In a lounge area, employ a waterproof patio chest or marine storage trunk (available at marine supply stores) as a coffee table. Store items that need protection from the elements.
- Reserve the kitchen cabinet closest to the back door for outdoor tableware, serving platters, table linens, placemats, paper towels and candles. Stash a first aid kit here (with bug repellent, sunscreen, adhesive bandages, hydrogen peroxide). If cabinet space isn't available, put everything in a lightweight plastic storage bin and keep in a cabana, garage or sheltered area outside.
- Keep toys in lightweight totable bins; label them appropriately (balls, trucks, sand toys, pool toys). Designate a spot at or near ground level in the garage for all bins.
Hot, hot, hot
Whether custom built or store bought, barbecue. Include garbage, recycling and compost containers in the zone.