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10 Ways to Refresh Your Outdoor Area

An outdoor dining area can function as an extension of the home, providing additional space for hosting family and friends. The popularity of al fresco entertaining has soared recently as more people take advantage of outdoor living areas. You can make your outdoor dining experience even better with these upgrades, which range from simple updates to larger projects. Here are 10 ways to add color, style and function to your outdoor dining area.

1. Add a Pergola or Retractable Awning Because you might want to enjoy being outside even if the sun is blazing or the rain is pouring down, consider adding a structure overhead to create shade, shelter and interest. There are many options to choose from, including pergolas, arbors, shade trees and retractable awnings that can protect you from the elements when needed. Bonus: If you add an open-air structure, you can plant flowering vines and enjoy their scent all season.

2. Who says you can’t enjoy your deck area in early spring or late fall? By installing natural gas or portable propane patio heaters — which can be safely used under eaves and pergolas — you can spend more time outdoors with loved ones. If you have an overhang on your house, you can also put outdoor-rated infrared heaters in the ceiling above your dining or lounge areas.

3. Incorporate Music With Outdoor Speakers Get the outdoor party started by spinning your favorite playlist (keeping neighbors in mind when it comes to volume, of course). There are many wireless speakers on the market that can withstand the elements. Some are even designed to look like elements of a landscape, such as boulders. Others can be hung in the corners of your patio or set up on side tables.

4. Brighten Things Up With Outdoor Lighting You’ll need both task and ambient lighting to accommodate evening cooking and entertaining. Clip lights to your barbecue’s lid, hang up rows of string lights for some sparkle and set up freestanding lanterns or hurricane lamps with wax or artificial candles to keep the glow going while you’re outside.

5. Plant a Vertical Herb Garden Limited space to plant culinary herbs for your grilling area? Look up! Outdoor kitchens can benefit from a living wall made from a specialized vertical garden system or horizontally hung gutters. Not only will a vertical garden add color and texture, but you can snip fresh herbs to season your dishes whenever you need them. Also consider vertically hanging some strawberry or cherry tomato plants to pluck produce straight from the vine.

6. Consider Bar Seating If you don’t want a large outdoor dining table and chairs taking over the patio, you can save some room by setting up stools alongside a bar instead. It’s a great way to keep the chef and guests socializing while the grill is going.

7. Add a Fire Feature A fireplace, fire table or several fire columns can transform a ho-hum patio into a spot where everyone wants to gather. Having a fire feature not only adds an outdoor focal point, it also helps you stay warm on chilly evenings as summer wanes. Choose from hundreds of models on the market, including some that double as dining tables — they come with a removable top that hides the gas fire feature underneath.

8. Put Up a Privacy Screen If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood, you might be able to see your neighbors over the fence and vice versa. If you need more privacy in your outdoor kitchen or dining area, install a decorative screen that’s both functional and beautiful. Choose ones made from wood, wrought iron with cutout designs, bamboo or lattice for added visual appeal.

9. Dress Up Your Table No budget to buy new dining furniture this year? Pick up some fresh table linens, seat cushions, place mats, napkins and colorful outdoor dishes to add pizazz without the price tag. New accessories go a long way toward elevating the festive factor.

10. Roll Out a Rug Protect your patio or deck while adding pattern, texture and a punch of color to your outdoor dining area with a large outdoor rug. Choose one that’s weather- and stain-resistant so it lasts more than one season. Pro tip: Keep the rug’s edges from curling up by placing furniture legs in strategic spots or roll up some masking tape into balls and place it under the corners.



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