By Jake Spurgeon, AKBD, CAPS, Designer for Mosby Building Arts

Ahhh, warm weather! As we change our gatherings from indoors to outdoors, we long to liven up our outdoor entertaining spaces.  My household loves to use our outdoor space for friends and family to relax and soak in the beautiful weather.  It’s relatively easy to create a perfect party patio that entices people to linger a little longer. Here are my favorite backyard design ideas:

Take a Seat

Typically, the first order of business when planning an outdoor patio space is figuring out where guests will sit.  I recommend a combination of a dining table for meals along with outdoor sofas and chairs, which gives guests choices to make themselves most comfortable.  A furniture arrangement similar to what’s shown in the screened porch above also promotes conversations among your guests.

“This Patio is on Fire”

A fire pit (or fireplace) is a great addition to any outdoor space.  The flicker of firelight can be mesmerizing, and guests will flock to it.  It will warm up those individuals that are a little chilly in the evenings and is also perfect for children and adults alike to make fun desserts like smores or roasted strawberries.

Adults Only Tip: For even more fun dip the roasted marshmallows in Bailey’s liquor.

“Put Another Shrimp on the Barbie!”

Firing up the grill is the ultimate sign of summer and food is a great reason to get together and celebrate.  Why not design your space with a fantastic outdoor kitchen?  These can be as simple as a grill or as elaborate as the poolside outdoor kitchen shown above.  Also, don’t forget a space for drinks!  If it’s a warm day lots of water and cocktails will be needed for guests to enjoy.

One more thing to keep in mind, if you desire a full-blown outdoor kitchen, I’m a certified kitchen designer and would love to help you with an open-air kitchen remodel!

“Lighten Up, Francis”

Having adequate outdoor lighting is crucial so people can see each other in the evenings.  My home features outdoor string lights with large round bulbs.  These are a personal favorite of mine due to their versatility.  I have mine connected to an outdoor outlet and dimmer switch so I can fully control the brightness of the lights.  For more flexibility at daytime events, I hang inexpensive paper lanterns from the lights that match the theme of the party.  They look even more fantastic at night.  Outdoor lanterns or torches are also an excellent choice and adding bug repellent or citronella candles to the lanterns has them serve double duty.

Speaking of Bugs!

Another line of defense my home uses for uninvited flying insects are natural plantings that repel flies and mosquitos.  In planters around our seating areas, we have peppermint, lavender, petunias, and lemongrass.  Not only are the planters beautiful and give our patio space color and visual appeal, but they keep the bugs away.  And did I mention they smell wonderful at the same time? No need to spray chemicals on your skin or clothing – just let Mother Nature handle it.

“Play that Funky Music”

Every party needs tunes!  A set of outdoor speakers is a fantastic addition because music keeps the party going.  Ensure the music is event-appropriate and keep it at a level that guests can still talk over it.  For a more budget-friendly alternative, consider purchasing a quality wireless Bluetooth speaker that connects to your mobile device.  This way you can play DJ anywhere at the party, easily adjusting the volume level and songs.  At my home, we use outdoor speakers similar to what is shown above, and I take advantage of Apple’s AirPlay feature to send music to the speakers.  Speakers also come in handy with the next outdoor patio idea…

Has the Movie Started Yet?

We adore watching movies or Cardinals games on our patio.  Projectors have become reasonably affordable and provide tons of evening entertainment.  An outdoor screen can be as simple as a sheet stretched over the wall of your home or fence or if you have a white garage door, can be projected onto that surface.  We regularly have family and friends over for “drive in” nights where chairs and pillows are thrown on the driveway, and the kids can watch movies as the adults partake in a card game.  If movies or sports are not your cup of tea, consider connecting a game console to the projector.  Playing the Wii on a giant screen really brings the competition out in some people (I will never forget the time that grandma beat me in Wii bowling). Also, as I mentioned in the previous post, I can connect my projector to the outdoor speakers for great sound during the film.

It is a special thrill to party in your own backyard. One of the best parts of having your event outdoors is cleanup – the next morning just grab a hose and rinse everything off, or use the leaf blower.  No mopping or vacuuming! Plus, outdoor remodeling can be relatively inexpensive, and easy to change up depending on the occasion.

At Mosby, we specialize in St. Louis outdoor living spaces. You’ll see a few of the projects mentioned above in this photo gallery of outdoor living projects. To get started on making the most of your backyard, give me a call at the Mosby office (314.909.1800) or contact me here.