Are the fireflies signaling summer on the way? Spring is the perfect time to head outside and prep your space for outdoor living. With a few simple additions, you can have the perfect backyard getaway, just steps from your own back door. Who needs Tahiti when you have your own sweet space, suited up for six months of backyard bliss?
Nothing is better than a crackling fire at dusk, bare feet in the cool grass, moonrise on the horizon. A backyard fire is a chance to unplug and tap into a tradition as old as civilization itself. Our ancestors knew something about the communal power of fire, and today, a backyard fire is an opportunity to turn away from the glow of our screens to gather with those we love.
Stay Put or Portable?
Substantial fire pits are available, made of heavy stone or stainless steel, and designed to be permanent backyard fixtures. If you’re looking for something more portable, turn to a fire bowl or terracotta chiminea, that can be lugged around the yard at will.
Wood vs. Gas
Wood burning fire pits give you the smell and crackle you crave. Make sure to find one with a screen for sparks, and remember that you’ll need a steady supply of dry wood. Many communities require that pits be situated at least 10 feet from homes and neighbors. Propane or natural gas pits are safe options for open porches or tight spaces. First picks of neatniks, these avoid the potential mess of wood, ashes, and smoke.
Time to Talk
Conversation Sets are geared for backyard visits. All the details have been considered when designing these sets, which just leaves the talking to you. Need a place to set your drink? They’ve thought of that! Extra seating for the kids? Considered that, too. Time to settle in and catch up.
Styles : All-in-One or Separate Suite?
There are countless styles available, but two main approaches: an all-in-one arrangement, or separate pieces that create a whole. The all-in-one is your outdoor sectional, a modular piece of seating that’s designed to stay linked up. Choose your shape : angular, with a corner seat, or circular seating, curved for conversation. Either option will have a coffee table designed to tuck in the center.
If you’d rather be unlinked, you’re looking at combinations of standalone separates. Though these aren’t joined at the hip, they’re still designed to coordinate. Choose a loveseat and two chairs to seat four- throw in two cushioned ottomans to seat 6. Both options should come with an accent table (extra points if the table doubles as storage.) Separate pieces are a great way to tailor your conversation set to your needs. Small family? Start with a few pieces, and add in coordinating items as your family grows.
Think you don’t need an outdoor rug? You’ll be surprised what this simple addition adds to your space. Visually, an area rug ties a space together, and turns your backyard into an extension of your cozy interior. Practically, outdoor rugs help to keep the outside where it belongs, keeping the dirt off your feet and out of the house.
Size it Up!
Medium size area rugs are great under a conversation or dining set, helping to set areas apart. For full coverage, go with an oversized outdoor rug, which can cover an entire deck. A bold pattern looks great peeking out from under a table, and can be coordinated with throw pillows and other accents. Want to stay neutral? Choose a solid shade that will quietly harmonize a space.
You’ll want to stay away from traditional indoor fibers, like cotton and wool, which might mildew. Opt instead for hardier materials, like jute, sisal, and hemp. These are made to upstand the outside, and maintain the natural look. If you want something bright and easy, turn to synthetics. Polypropylene rugs are durable and hyper easy to clean-- just pull out the garden hose, and employ the kids.
If your outdoor plans include every meal under the sun, you’ll want to invest in an outdoor dining set. While side tables are great surfaces for a drink or snack, full meals call for space to spread. With the right set, you’ll have the seating and table space you need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Small Space or Full Table?
If you have a small space or intimate plans, opt for a bistro set. These occupy a smaller footprint than a full table, but can still sit two to four. A bistro set is the perfect companion to Sunday brunch, and pairs well with coffee and croissants. If you have a large space and plans to entertain a crowd, go for a full dining set. These can seat anywhere from four to over twelve, and will provide ample space for full plates and long meals. The more comfortable the chairs you choose, the longer your guests will linger.
Throw Some Shade
Does the sun shine bright on your backyard? Hot spots are great for sunbathing, but can limit your dining pleasure. If you don’t have shade trees sheltering your backyard or a covered deck, consider a patio umbrella. Many outdoor tables are designed to hold an umbrella. Not yours? There are standalone options waiting in the wings. Add one to the roster, and keep the hot days at bay.
Related: Outfitting Your Outdoors
Time to put those dining sets to good use, and fire up the grill! Nothing completes a backyard space like outdoor cooking. Clear everyone out of the hot kitchen, and turn dinner prep into a breezy affair.
Choose Your Fuel
Gas Grills, which run on liquid propane or natural gas, make grilling a snap. Simply turn on the burners and you’re good to go. Gas grills come in a range of sizes, and feature bonuses like a warming tray and accessories. A typical 20 pound propane tank will keep you grilling for 9 hours.
Charcoal grills are the original backyard beacon, and still a classic option for Sunday BBQ. Use charcoal briquettes or wood to fuel your grilling session. Small versions are great camping trip tagalongs.
Smokers are the next step up, providing unparallelled flavor. Haven’t tried the Big Green Egg yet? Holy smokes, you’re in for a treat. This ceramic smoker is a modern version of the Japanese Kamado, an ancient earthenware grill that carried on for a reason. Once you go green, you’ll never go back…
We hope these tips have you longing for outdoor living, and inspired to outfit your outdoors. Add some seating, table space, fire pit, rug, and a grill, and you have the recipe for the ideal getaway, just steps from your very own bed. Spiff up your space, and let us know when the ribs are ready…