Are you looking to ramp up the curb appeal when selling your home, or just dreaming of dining beneath the stars this summer? Here are some affordable tips for sprucing up outdoor spaces to help you meet your end goal, and get some extra enjoyment out the summer before moving. The project doesn’t have to be big or expensive to be full of appeal.

Naturally, there are a few things to consider when planning your outdoor entertainment area. Follow these steps to make your project a reality.

  1. Map it out
    First, look at your outdoor areas. Map out how much room you want to use and include any amenities that will enhance your space. Existing covered lanais or a unique tree that can be incorporated into your design will add interest. Envisioning what you have to work with and the design you want to create will give you an idea of what will fit, such as the outdoor furniture and decorative items you already have, and what you need fill by purchasing a few things.

If you are planning an alfresco living room, you should consider the materials you will use; your selections will have a significant impact on its appearance, durability, and functionality. Consider shopping garage sales or online ads for a good, used outdoor dining set, and enhance it with some new and colorful all-weather lumbar pillows. There is no shortage of alternatives when it comes to building an inviting outdoor space.

You will want it to complement outdoor living spaces with landscaping, but think about maintenance too. If you hate pulling weeds (and who doesn’t?) consider a weed barrier covered with inexpensive wood chips, which come in a variety of colors. You can add stone or brick borders around beds without the cost of putting pavers across the full surface. Potted plants and a chair by an entry are another low-maintenance option.

Contemplate special features you will include in your patio design. If you want to install something like a fire pit, plan an area away from the house that is has enough level surface around it for chairs.

Stepping stones come in a variety of styles and color variations which can add interest to your space but be careful if you plan to extend them into shady areas or main walkways as it can be slick or icy during the winter. Two or three stepping stones up to a garden feature like a fountain or bench is a nice touch.

It’s important to choose these materials with care to ensure you will enjoy the space with minimal effort to maintain.

  1. Determine the primary purpose of your entertainment space
    How you plan to use the area is important in knowing what to include. For instance, will you use it for casual entertaining, or do you plan to cater meals for your guests? Both would require distinctive features and easy access to the kitchen. Do you want a cozy fire pit area to utilize the space well into the fall or in early spring? Or do you have a pool? If so, perhaps a bar area would be perfect for fun pool parties.
  2. Design your layout
    Ample seating for guests to chat is necessary when planning your backyard entertainment area. Consider where to place your barbecue grill – size is a factor. You may want it set apart from where guests will sit so, they aren’t smoked out. But if you are planning an outdoor kitchen, then you might want it closer to where guests are to allow you to be a part of their conversations.

Once you have mapped out and designed your layout, it’s time to turn the dream into your own personal oasis. Here are some ideas to take your backyard from an unused area to one that you and your guests will love. Or that may be the key selling point for homebuyers.

Furniture is the first thing people will notice. It can be overwhelming to choose from the many options for outdoor sofas, chairs, tables, and bars. Do you want splashes of color, or is a muted color scheme more your style? Either way, it’s important to create intimate conversation areas that invite people to sit and chat, so pick carefully. And make sure you keep it low maintenance. You don’t want to spend hours cleaning furniture before your guests arrive or you have a showing during a home sale.

Outdoor movies
Don’t forget the kids – plan an outdoor movie set up. When they are done running around the yard, some downtime might be in order. The options for such a set up are endless whether it’s a do-it-yourself project or you buy an outdoor theatre screen and projector. Grab some big blankets (don’t forget the popcorn!) — and you’ve got a full evening of entertainment perfect for all ages. This is an item you might want to pack up and take with you to your next home!

A Pavilion
One of the most beautiful ways to make your backyard accessible in all sorts of summer weather — like rain or excessive heat — is with a pavilion or pergula. They can be an extension of your home, or free standing. Enclose it with screens where bugs may be a bother or leave it open. Think about placement: a gorgeous view of the sunset is ideal or put it close to your fire pit for extra pizzazz. If you’re handy, it’s a fairly simple DIY project. Otherwise check the big box stores for affordable options.

Don’t let the setting sun end your party, after all, the best memories of summer come after the sun goes down. Add ambience with your lighting choices. Your entertainment area can be magical and more beautiful with artistic, yet functional hanging bulbs. It doesn’t take much money or effort to drape some lights or wrap them around your trees to create an intimate setting.

Imagine all the possibilities to take a drab backyard and turn it into a stellar entertainment space. Enjoy the summer and the extra appeal of your home when you go to sell.