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
There are two initial things to consider when it comes to creating your outdoor seating 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, etc.
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 semicircles 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’s 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.
Backyard Seating Ideas: Choosing the Right Patio Furniture
Before investing in new patio furniture to complete your backyard seating arrangement, there are some additional things you will want to consider. First and foremost, patio furniture comes in a wide range of different materials. Though aesthetics are important when making your selection, you also need to think about the durability of different materials and how they will fare outdoors over time.
Metal is often the preferred choice for outdoor furniture, because it’s strongest, most durable, and can be shaped into many diverse and beautiful designs. On the other hand, metals are vulnerable to rust and can get super hot in warm climates. Some of the more popular types of metal are stainless steel, aluminum, and wrought iron, each with their own unique benefits.
Wood is another popular choice because it is naturally beautiful and easy to work with, but some woods hold up better in the elements than others. Generally, hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods because they are more challenging to work with, but they are also more durable, weather-resistant, and long-lasting. Hardwoods such as teak, shorea, eucalyptus, white oak, and ipe are often favored.
Other types of material to consider for outdoor furniture include wicker (usually made from synthetic polyethylene resin), plastic, high-pressure laminate, and concrete, just to name a few.
When comparing different types of patio furniture and materials, you’ll also want to think about the maintenance and upkeep requirements of each. But no matter what furniture material you decide to go with, you can add some weather-proof cushion covers to complete the look and keep ongoing maintenance to a minimum!
Patio Seating Ideas for Year-Round Use
If you’re investing in some new patio furniture, you’ll probably want to make the most of it and enjoy it year-round. There are few things you can do to make your patio seating area more comfortable in any season:
– Go with weatherproof cushion covers: You can add weather-proof cushion covers to almost any kind of patio furniture to make your cushions last longer and look better for the entire year. You will probably want to buy removable cushion covers, because they’re easier to keep clean and you can replace them as needed.
– Mix things up as the seasons change: Many people have a couple of different sets of removable cushion covers with different patterns and colors that they can swap out as the seasons change. It’s a fun and easy way to bring new life to your patio seating arrangement and encourage you to spend more time outdoors throughout the year. For example, you could have floral-patterned cushion covers for springtime, some colorful stripes for summer, a warm color like red or orange for fall, and a deep color like navy for winter.
– Stay cozy with a fire pit: The addition of a fire pit or outdoor fireplace will help you enjoy your patio seating in the evenings and during the colder months of the year. A fire feature also acts as a visual centerpiece or hearth and contributes to the overall aesthetic of your patio seating, making it feel warmer and inviting.
– Brighten things up with some lighting: String lights are a simple addition to your patio seating area that can make a big difference and add to the overall ambiance. Alternatively, if you have a patio cover, you can easily hang some light fixtures from the beams.
– Keep warm with blankets and throws: Keep a basket with some fuzzy blankets, throws, and extra pillows near your patio seating area so that you and your guests can keep the party going and stay warm at night or in the wintertime.
– Top it all off with a patio cover: You can add a patio cover to help protect you and your guests from the elements in any season. For hot, dry climates, try an open patio cover with vines or a sail shade. For wetter climates, you will probably want a patio cover that is more solid and waterproof.
With all these thoughtful touches and additions, your patio seating area might get more use than your living room!
Need Extra Backyard Seating for a Backyard Social or Garden Party?
If you’re throwing a backyard social or garden party and you’re worried about limited seating, you can quickly and easily create some additional seating areas with just a little creativity.
Perhaps you can lay out a few picnic blankets with pillows in different corners of your garden. Maybe you can bring some of your indoor furniture outside for the event. Do you have some trees where you could hang up a hammock or two? Another idea is to pull out some of your camping chairs or beach chairs to form a few temporary seating areas.
Meditation Garden Seating Ideas
Although most of the ideas above focus on backyard seating for social and entertainment purposes, backyard seating can serve other purposes too. For example, a little bench tucked away in a private corner of a garden is the perfect place for meditation, solo relaxation, and quiet reflection.
This kind of garden seating is all about creating a calm and serene environment where you can escape from the noise and distractions of the outside world. One way to achieve this is to create a border around the seating area with a fence, gate, movable screens, bamboo, shrubs, or any other greenery. A trickling water feature or some wind chimes can help set the scene and stimulate your senses. For the seating itself, focus on comfort with a cushioned bench, lounge, hammock, or seating mat.
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!