To create the perfect backyard for entertaining, you can either keep the crowds away until everything is perfect or succeed over time by trial-and-error. If you’re like most of us, the latter is probably more realistic–not to mention more fun. Outdoor seating may be the most important feature of a great backyard for entertaining so it’s certainly one of the best places to start.
Once you have an attractive, comfortable (notice we didn’t say perfect) outdoor seating area, the rest of the space can be built around it. This lends some parameters to help give your creativity some traction when you’re brainstorming. Depending on your level of inspiration, you may even want to make some of your own DIY outdoor seating!
Setting the Vibe with Outdoor Seating
Two things when it comes to setting your initial vibe.
First, consider who your target guests are and how many of them you expect. How many seats will you need? Out of that number, how many guests will be couples that want to sit together? Will some guests want to bring their kids? When possible, it can be helpful to arrange the outdoor seating area somewhere other than in the middle of the yard or patio so that kids and other guests who aren’t sitting and talking have a place to run around, play lawn games, and the like.
The other little lifehack when it comes to setting up your outdoor seating is to keep at least two sets of outdoor cushion covers on hand. Not only does this make it easier to choose the visual vibe of the place depending on the season and occasion, but it also gives you some backup options in case spills or other mishaps should occur. It’s the difference between having to bring an indoor dining room chair outside and being able to say, “Not to worry! I’ll be right back,” before reappearing with a good-as-new cushion.
Creative Outdoor Seating Ideas
Your patio is your interior design–or rather exterior, as it were–studio. There are infinite options for someone who likes exercising a little creativity. Lots of this creativity has less to do with what seats you pick and more to do with what goes around them.
For example, it’s popular to have a long couch behind a long coffee table and to create a wraparound effect with a chair or two at either end. But bigger isn’t always better; especially if you don’t have unlimited space to work with, a couple of loveseats forming a right angle and a smaller, square coffee table in the middle can create an instantly cozy, intimate vibe. This idea is especially nice with any kind of canopy over it. Just something to frame the area and give it a special, “set-apart” kind of feeling.
Another possibility–one that may allow for even more creativity–is to jettison the couch for an all-chair setup. This gives you a more “granular” control over the position of everything. Circles and semi-circles are perfect shapes to arrange chairs into, but you can also break up the monotony by sprinkling pairs of chairs around your outdoor seating area or trying out an irregular shape like a wave. Just keep in mind that guests have to be able to face each other when they want to; we don’t want the theater effect, where you have to lean over and shout across however many innocent bysitters to carry on your conversation.
DIY Outdoor Seating
Of course, one of the best ways to create a one-of-a-kind outdoor seating area (not to mention a less expensive one!) is to make some DIY seating. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think–there are simple, step-by-step DIY outdoor seating instructions all over the internet to get you started.
There are lots of materials to choose from too–store-bought 2x4s are never a bad choice, but you can also upcycle things like disassembled pallets, cinder blocks, milk crates, branches–the sky is the limit! Just remember that these seats need to be comfortable, not just functional. Usually, that means they need to be able to hold cushions, which in turn have to be able to wear protective covers so you’re not always having to replace them.
Creating the Perfect Outdoor Seating Area
The process of creating your perfect outdoor seating area is one of the exquisite pleasures of owning or renting a home with a backyard or patio. There are no limits to the directions you can take with the project, especially if you like the more granular, seat-by-seat approach as opposed to opting for a premade outdoor seating set.
An outdoor seating area gives you a place to start, too, when it comes to outfitting your backyard to entertain guests. That task can feel overwhelming at times until after you’ve made a little progress, and the outdoor seating area is the perfect jumping-off point.
The creativity of brainstorming outdoor seating ideas and trying them out is loads of fun too. Little changes can make big differences at any party. And once you’ve got a good seating area set up, it can be much easier to outfit the rest of the yard.
And if you really want to explore your creativity, there is nothing like a little DIY outdoor seating. It’s a built-in conversation starter and it may even lead to a new hobby! Standing in the door frame, looking out at the backyard you arranged using seating that you built–that’s a special feeling.
Whatever you do, have fun and make sure to bring friends over to share it with! At the end of the day, building and having relationships with loved ones is still the point. See you on the patio!