PatioTableBackyard barbecues, cold drinks at dusk, a good book, and a glass of iced tea … summer is here and the livin’ is easy! It’s that time of year when homeowners are busy getting that outdoor living space ready for a new season of memory making. And, if you are a loyal fan of HGTV, chances are you’re always striving to make that outdoor space as glamorous as possible.

You may have noticed the trend over the past couple of years of creating an outdoor living room of sorts. You want that outdoor space to be as warm, cozy, and inviting as the inside. But before you get out there and start your decorating project, you should take a little bit of time to do some planning.

OutdoorFurnitureFor instance, will you be using your outdoor space for eating dinner with your family? Entertaining on the weekends? Reading the newspaper and sipping coffee on Sunday mornings? The activities you’ll be spending your most time doing should be considered when choosing furniture and accessories.

Flip through a home décor magazine, browse Pinterest, or HOUZZ.com for some inspiration, and do a rough sketch of what you want in your outdoor living space. Then, you’re ready to go and invest in some new outdoor furniture!

Choosing the right outdoor furniture for your family. Just because the three-piece iron bistro set is on sale, doesn’t mean that’s the best furniture solution for your space. If you’re looking for an intimate setting for entertaining or just relaxing as a family, look for comfortable couches, a lounge-style table and an indoor/outdoor rug. A couple of garden stools and some plants can also add warmth and personality.

OutdoorAccessoriesIf you want a dining area, choose a table and chair set that fits your space. Here, too, a rug will finish the space nicely.

Tip: Measure your space BEFORE you go shopping. You don’t want to end up with pieces that won’t fit properly when you get them home.

Have fun with accessories! Remember to accessorize your outside living space just like you do your inside living space. Add splashes of color and pattern with cushions and throws on your couches and chairs. Decorative accents and sculptures, plants in bright bold colored planters, and metal hurricane lanterns (whether placed on the table or on the floor) add a modern yet elegant twist to any outdoor living space. Just be careful not to over-clutter the space and remember to choose colors that will complement your home’s siding.

OutdoorLightingSet the mood with lighting. String some lights across the patio, on a nearby tree in the backyard, or even attached to an umbrella for a

beautiful glow.  Lighting can make a huge difference, creating beautiful ambiance for relatively low cost. If stringing up lights isn’t an option, place candles or lanterns on the table (flameless candles are very popular and the safest option), and you may never want to go back inside!

Now, sit back and let the good times roll!