Whether it’s a July 4th bash or a simple family barbecue, there are a few key elements that are needed for a stylish outdoor entertaining area. Click through for eight of our favorite outdoor spaces that are perfect for gathering people, along with practical tips from their designers to ensure guests have a memorable time.
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Tip 1: Outdoor = Indoor
"Design exterior spaces as extensions of the interior of a house. Strive to make the outdoor space as neat and comfortable as the inside rooms. In this case, we combined different materials and furniture styles for a relaxed and eclectic feel. With subtle reference to the colors of the flag, the result is perfect for an American summer." – Jim Gauthier of Gauthier~Stacy Inc. Photo: Tricia Shay
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Tip 2: Embrace Nature
"When setting the perfect Fourth of July table, keep in mind that although we historically like to celebrate our country's independence with the colors of our flag, we don’t need to raid the local paper goods store to find them. We only need to look to nature for those colors. Red strawberries, a bowl full of blueberries, or a vase filled with white hydrangeas can all reflect our patriotism while tastefully setting the tone."
– Jennifer Amodei of Amodei Photo: Todd Tyler
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Tip 3: Incorporate Different Dining Options
"If you're lucky enough to have this kind of outdoor space in Manhattan, have as many different dining options as possible. This space has a bar-height dining table with bar stools to ensure being able to take full advantage of the views, as well as large coffee tables for informal dining that way your guests can really hang out." – Jeff Lincoln of Jeff Lincoln Interiors, Inc.
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Tip 4: Show Off Your Fireplace & Add Flexible Pieces
"Even in the heat of summer, it's nice to center around a fireplace. Especially as the day comes to a close, we like to incorporate flexible pieces such as small benches or garden stools that people can move around for conversation. Durable top coffee tables –this one is Bluestone –provide an easy surface for platters of snacks and trays of cocktails." – Diego Monchamp and Ryan Brown of Brown Design Group Photo: Laura Hull
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Tip 5: Try Colorful Accessories
“Creating an outdoor space that has a neutral, pared-down style allows you to be more colorful or festive with accessories. This also means you are not committing to a trendy color or style you may easily get bored of quickly. Let the accessories be the fun, changeable, on-trend element.” – Marguerite Rodgers Photo: © Halkin Photography LLC
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Tip 6: Weave in Cool Colors
"I love white slipcovered chairs for around the table. They are made of sunbrella fabric and can be tossed into the washer so they always look fresh. They also provide a strong soft contrast to the dark woven wicker table. Also, my clients absolutely love blue and white. It always looks crisp and cool, providing a great contrast to our warm climate." – Jackie Armour of JMA Interior Design Photo: Robert Brantley
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Tip 7: Make the Most of Your Loggia
"A well-designed loggia increases the value of your home and your lifestyle. It's functionality extends your entertaining space; it's a perfect area for a July 4th wine party. Just add a few candles and small vases of flowers. It's also perfect for a swim to cool off on the stain-resistant, cushioned sofas. And the loggia’s wide plank ceiling suggests Old Florida style, blending traditional British colonialism with Florida cool."
– Gil Walsh of Gil Walsh Interiors Photo: Kim Sargent Photography
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Tip 8: Embellish the Pool
“Don’t forget to embellish the pool itself. For the Fourth of July, throw in a couple of American flag floats or illuminating pool orbs in red, white and blue for the evening. And think ahead and stage items close at hand for your guests’ comfort. Don’t forget wrap blankets for after the sun sets as well as extra insect repellant just in case.” – Christopher Stevens Photo: Peter Murdock