The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Few things are better than having a functional and beautiful outdoor space to entertain guests. Having a great outdoor space enables a person to host parties or intimate gatherings all year long. Establishing an entertaining space and maintaining that space are essential when planning another year of fun in the sun.

There are many things homeowners can do to ensure their entertaining space is safe and functional. As the season approaches, include some landscaping and decorating components to your preparatory plans to make the space as comfortable and aesthetically appealing as possible.

Here are a few key tips for readying your yard for entertaining possibilities. Expand on these basics to customize an area for your unique needs.

* Check the area for any needed repairs. Prior to your first entertaining session, look over the deck or patio to take note of any flaws that may present safety hazards. Are there any loose railings? Are all screws and nails flush so they do not cause tripping? Are there any cracks in concrete or loose patio blocks? Be sure to remedy all of the repairs needed to ensure guests will be safe. If you are unsure of any structural deficits, consult with a contractor.

* Hire a reputable contractor. If you are just laying the groundwork for a new patio or deck, it is important to get the necessary permits and then hire a person who has been properly vetted. Check qualifications and licensing before hiring a contractor and ask to view a portfolio of his or her previous work. Word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends and family members are good, and you can also double-check qualifications by contacting the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged or use a service such as Angie's List to read reviews of his or her work.

* Think about closing in a portion of a deck or patio. The use of a canopy, netting or even greenery to protect an entertaining space can help minimize weather-related damage to outdoor furniture. Netting will keep a good number of biting insects at bay when the weather is warm and humid. Having a bit of concealment also means you can create a private space that isn't easily viewed by neighbors or passersby.

* Plan well-defined areas. Just as rooms serve different purposes inside of the home, outdoor areas can be separated according to usage. Establish a sitting nook where guests can gather and talk. Have a bar or serving area where refreshments are made and served. Make sure there is a shaded area for when the sun is too uncomfortable to make sitting outside enjoyable. Similarly, have a sunny area where people can soak up a few rays or dry off after a dip in the spa or pool. Don't forget to establish a spot for the kids to converge with scaled-down amenities.

* Consider a fireplace or fire pit. For centuries man (and woman) has gathered around fire for socialization and a means to warming up. Having a backyard fireplace, pit or chiminea is a conversation-starter, a decorative focal point, and a functional tool to extend the number of seasons in which outdoor entertaining can take place. Place the fire wisely and with concern for safety. It should be out of the way of foot traffic, but central enough so that it can be a gathering point.

* Invest in quality outdoor furniture. Today's yards are extensions of a home's interior. Guests no longer want to sit on uncomfortable metal or plastic furniture. There are many different outdoor sofas and chairs that are as stylish as they are comfortable. These pieces can be matched to the decor inside your home for a cohesive look.

* Accessorize. Consider the creature comforts of indoors and mimic that outdoors. Don't shy away from hanging artwork on an exterior wall or using urns or pottery to decorate the space. Weather-resistant materials ensure everything from clocks to televisions can be used outdoors. Think about having an entire set of serving dishes and other entertaining items for the outdoors.

When refurbishing outdoor entertaining areas, emphasize comfort, safety and functionality.

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