My 5 design tips for the perfect backyard for entertaining

Peter Fallico's Backyard taken from Canadian House and Home magazine, Cottage Issue July 2007

Instead of talking style I will talk about function. Whenever you are designing an outdoor space for entertaining, you must fulfill the function before the styling can begin. My 5 tips are to design a backyard for grownups.

Plan well defined areas

Staying at the exact spot for the entire party during is quite boring. The best party designers know that time seems to pass faster if you move your guests around from one area to the next.

To make the best use of this trick from the trades I suggest you plan a barbecue / food preparation area, a lounge area and a dining room. Place the lounge area as far as you can from the dining room.

Do not put too close either the barbecue from the dining room because of the heat and the smells. Plan to get a few sitting places close by the barbecue. A simple bench works fine. This way, a small number of guests can hang around comfortably with the cook.

Create a bar station

Nice outdoor bar furniture is widely available in stores so that custom build furniture is usually unnecessary. I suggest wood or stainless steel finishes for their durability. I really like the sleek look of the stainless steel shelf unit than we see here in the backyard of Peter Fallico, a popular host on HGTV Canada.

If you can, plan three or more bar stools. One design element that I adore is the long, deep cooler box. It is so chic. You can have it custom build to fit your space. Think about having a cover shelf for when you do not use it as a cooler.

Mix out the lights

Lighting creates the ambiance. It is as important outdoor as it is indoor. Plan for electric fixtures but leave room for candle lights and solar battery-operated movable lights. This way, you can modify the lightning according to the mood suitable for your current event.

Vessel is a company who makes great portable models for adults and children. You can see several luau portable lamps hanging along the modern Moroccan inspired lounge from an episode from Take it Oustide TV series.

Provide some shaded areas

Four projects from Take it Outside TV series

Sun may be too hot sometimes and too much of a good thing makes it bad. I always protect the dining table from the sun because eating under the sun is not pleasant. It hurt the digestion. You can plan for a removable at will shading solution.

On this point, many backyards missed the boat. Putting some shading structure creates a sense of intimacy that is desirable on a backyard. It adds drama. And with such a large selection of sun block outdoor fabrics, this is no reason who cannot find one that you like.

Have a fire place

Everybody enjoy a fireplace. For colder nights, they are even a necessity. Since this is not something that can be moved easily, place it wisely. People like to circle around a fire. But the fire should not feel uncomfortable when you sit on the lounge or the dining room.

To enjoy your backyard longer, think about adding patio heaters. They are quite affordable these days.

Buy online: Lighting products by Vessel
Photo credits:
Peter Fallico’s Backyard taken from Canadian House and Home magazine, Cottage Issue July 2007
Four projects from Take it Outside TV series

+ Revealing the Secrets of An Amazing Entertaining Backyard

  • Jenn
    July 21, 2007 at 01:28

    great tips!
    movement is key in any party. you want to be able to mingle and stretch your leg every once in awhile. =)
    in your 4 photo collage, i love the first red and white wood patio image. has a very asian feel to it with the floor seating.


  • Purple
    July 22, 2007 at 05:54

    Great ideas, good and smart tips!

  • Sarah Dennis
    July 22, 2007 at 23:53

    Tag, you’re it Kim!

    Players list 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, players then tags 8 people by posting their names and makes sure they know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at the tagee’s blog.

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    May 28, 2008 at 20:18

    I am featured on The Gazette Montreal Today

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    July 23, 2008 at 22:29

    Revealing the Secrets of An Amazing Entertaining Backyard