Creating outdoor entertaining space

Jun 27, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. ET

The warm days of summer are finally upon us. A great way to start off the outdoor entertaining season on the right foot is with a Fourth of July get-together in your home’s outdoor space. Here are four helpful tips to create a successful, customized outdoor party.

Outdoor entertaining

Balance the Feel

Consider your outdoor living space as an extension of your home's look and feel. If your décor has a country feel, bring that feel outside with some mismatched wicker furniture, rocking chairs and old apple crates to hold toys, towels or tote plates and flatware. If it's a contemporary space you live in, continue the clean lines outdoors.

Pull out the acrylic chairs (durable and easy to clean!), grab the glass hurricanes for candles and put those lacquered trays and bowls to work! Don't forget to work your home's color scheme into your outdoor space. If your color scheme varies dramatically from room to room, focus on the room that you most often walk through to get to the outdoor space. Those are the colors that you should integrate.

Trading Spaces

If you were having a party indoors, you might have cocktails in the kitchen, move into the dining room for dinner and finish up with a post-meal digestif in the living room. Similarly, keep an outdoor party moving from space to space by creating different vignettes.

If you have the luxury of a larger deck or patio, laying an outdoor rug or two can help define certain spaces. Chilewich's vinyl utility mats are multifunctional space grounders: Move them from the indoors out, to create different areas for lounging, dining and play. A fire pit creates the ultimate seating and entertaining vignette, and is great fun for children and adults alike. Don't relegate your guests solely to a table for the entire time.

Comfort is Key

Infuse your vignettes with the same comfort you'd find inside your home. Add cushions and lumbar pillows to add texture and color, as well as comfort. Add a cozy throw or two to stave off the evening chill in style.

Place citronella candles in different containers or jars to add to the ambiance while keeping pesky bugs at bay. It's the absolute worst when you need to move a party indoors on a beautiful night because of annoying gnats or mosquitoes!

Set the Mood

Creating ambience is crucial in outdoor event planning. If your yard or garden is far from blooming, create some lushness by placing potted plants around the various entertaining vignettes that you have created. If you have any large standing plants indoors, bring them out to help adorn bare corners of a deck or patio.

Intersperse the plants with some fresh-cut seasonal flowers and you have an insta-garden! Finally, lighting is the key to carrying the merriment and mood into the night. Grab some tea lights and votive candles, and work with vessels that you already have in your home to create custom candle holders. Ball jars, lanterns, hurricanes and glass tumblers all work beautifully and will infuse your party with a warm, friendly glow.

More entertaining tips:

Expert lighting for entertaining

Must-have items for entertaining at home

Table-setting trends for summer