Everything You Need to Create a Cozy Outdoor Entertaining Area

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Why have an outdoor entertaining area?

We all look forward to the long days of summer but don’t wait until then to get your outdoor entertaining area ready for the season. When spring flowers start popping up, that’s your signal to get yourself in gear!

In this post, I’m going to help you figure out what you need in order to create the perfect backyard oasis for your home. But first, think about how you want to use this space.

dining area of outdoor entertaining area, rectangular table with yellow printed pottery barn table cloth, woven chairs, umbrella off to side, blue and white tablescape

Table | Chairs | Umbrella | Tablecloth | Drinkware | Flatware | Napkins | Vase | Placemats

If you plan to use your patio primarily for family dining, then your focus should be on creating a beautiful outdoor dining area.

However, if party hosting is your thing and you want to have a multi-purpose space, then you’ll need both a dining and conversation area big enough to accommodate your guests.

Backyard living space

Like the living room inside your home, you have to be thoughtful when designing your outdoor living space too. Depending on the size and shape of your patio, there are multiple ways to arrange your outdoor furniture.

Be sure to measure your space before you buy anything. Leave enough room for you and your guests to move about freely without the risk of bumping into things or tripping. My old setup included a wicker patio sectional. It fits perfectly in the corner of the patio and backed up to the shrubs so it didn’t obstruct a walkway.

corner of bluestone patio with outdoor sectional and ottoman, pillows, flowers, large yard in background

Sectional (similar)

My current setup is more versatile. It has separate pieces that you can mix and match to suit your seating needs and layout. I love it because I can easily move things around and is not limited like a sectional.

Walmart river oaks outdoor furniture on bluestone patio, umbrella, cherry blossoms in background, pillows on outdoor sofa, ottomans

Outdoor sofa | Ottomans | Lumbar pillows | Square pillow | Umbrella

This set has coordinating tables and ottomans to choose from and everything comes with custom covers! If you want to read more about this popular set, check out my wicker patio furniture review post.

Patio dining area

There is nothing like bringing the family outside to enjoy dinner together on a nice evening. Somehow it just makes everything taste better! You’ve created the perfect dining room design inside your home, now you can take some of those ideas to your outdoor dining space!

dining area of outdoor entertaining area, rectangular table with yellow printed pottery barn table cloth, woven chairs, umbrella off to side, blue and white tablescape

Table | Chairs | Umbrella | Tablecloth | Drinkware | Flatware | Napkins | Vase | Placemats | Drink dispenser | Dispenser stand

You may not have the same amount of space to work with as indoors, so it’s very important to measure this space as well. The last thing you need is to have guests tipping off the patio because their chair was too close to the edge. You need enough room to walk around your table even when the chairs are pulled out.

I have a round dining table inside, but for my outdoor space, I went with a rectangular patio table. I love the simplicity of the design and the warm tones of the tabletop. This table didn’t come with an umbrella hole, but adding one is a breeze so don’t let that deter you if you find something you love.

close up of summer outdoor dining and entertaining, melamine plates, serving board with assorted cheese and crackers and grapes, bowl with berries, vase with flowers, woven outdoor chairs

Table | Chairs | Serving board | Melamine dinnerware

The chairs are weather resistant and coordinate effortlessly with the table. You can certainly go for a set that comes together, but mixing and matching tables and chairs is part of the fun and creates a unique look for your outdoor entertaining area.

Do you need an outdoor rug for your patio?

You don’t NEED an outdoor rug, but it gives any outdoor living space a cozy feel. Just like the living room inside your home, a rug ties your design elements together and adds texture. It also defines a space in an open area like a large patio.

A lot goes into deciding whether to add an outdoor rug to your patio. If your outdoor entertaining area is covered, then it’s easier to maintain a rug. You’ll still have to sweep off the leaves and dust that accumulates, but it won’t fade from the sun. Placing a rug under a patio dining table creates an additional mess to contend with – especially if you have small children.

Sectional (similar) | Woven planter | Lanterns

Use caution with surfaces like a wood deck that may fade in the sun. In this case, the rug would actually protect the deck from fading, but when you remove the rug you may be left with an unsightly outline.

If you WANT to have an outdoor rug, just make sure it’s going to be durable enough to withstand the elements. Remember that some are better than others and just because a rug is labeled for outdoor use doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. Depending on the material, some dry faster and are less prone to mold and mildew.

Here are a few of my recent faves:

What material is best for outdoor furniture?

Obviously, outdoor furniture needs to be durable. It will be exposed to varying temperatures and humidity levels so you need something that will last for more than one season, despite the elements.

  • Wood options include teak, cedar, acacia, and eucalyptus. Out of these, teak is the most durable and requires less upkeep than the others. You may need to restain and seal after a few seasons.
  • Polywood is the perfect choice for those that want the look of wood but need extra durability. It’s made from high-density plastic that doesn’t absorb heat and can withstand all weather.
  • Wrought iron is always a classic look with sleek black lines paired with white cushions. It makes me think of those beautiful poolside loungers at a fancy hotel. Iron is durable and doesn’t require much maintenance. However, it can be pricey, heavy to move around, and gets hot in the sun.
  • Aluminum is lightweight and resists rust and moisture damage. This option is affordable and can easily be touched up if needed.
  • Resin Wicker is my favorite! I love using wicker and rattan inside my home so it should be no surprise that I added it to my outdoor entertaining area as well. The plastic material is woven together and has characteristics that mimic wicker.
Walmart river oaks swivel chairs and ottomans paired with side tables on bluestone patio, cherry blossoms in background

Chairs | Ottomans | Square table | Pillows

Do you need an umbrella on your patio?

If you have an uncovered porch and patio as I do, then you may want to think about adding an umbrella. Not just to add another layer to your outdoor entertaining area design, but to provide a bit of shade from the hot sun. It really makes a difference!

Just like when you’re at the beach, you have to be mindful of using an umbrella in your backyard too. My patio is exposed and it gets pretty windy here so I made sure to invest in a heavy-duty umbrella base.

dining area of outdoor entertaining area, rectangular table with yellow printed pottery barn table cloth, woven chairs, umbrella off to side, blue and white tablescape, bluestone patio

Table | Chairs | Umbrella | Tablecloth | Drinkware | Flatware | Napkins | Vase | Placemats | Drink dispenser | Dispenser stand

Patio umbrellas are an inexpensive way to add shade to your patio. You can even get a base that’s on wheels if you’d like to make it easier to adjust. As I mentioned above, I made an umbrella hole in my patio dining table, but most of the time I prefer to leave it out. This way I can adapt to the sun’s position no matter the time of day.

Speaking of adjusting, be sure to get one that has a tilt feature. This is another great way to keep up with the sun and get shade all day long.

Do you have to get special outdoor dinnerware?

You can create a stunning outdoor tablescape that looks straight out of a magazine with all the beautiful options available. Paper plates are boring and aren’t reusable so pick up some outdoor safe options made from bamboo or melamine. Having a stash of outdoor flatware is a great sustainable option over plastic alternatives.

close up of table setting, yellow print table cloth, woven square placemats, white dish, floral napkin, Stefana Silber placing bamboo outdoor flatware

Tablecloth | Flatware | Napkins | Placemats

Use simple and timeless outdoor drinkware or get some that follows the latest trends. We’ve been seeing lots of vintage-style beaded glasses for indoor use, so why not bring them outdoors as well? The hobnail detail gives it an interesting look and provides a little texture for grip.

If you plan to host a 4th of July celebration, the blue glasses make a perfect addition to your patriotic table decor.

close up of outdoor drink ware, beaded vintage-style hobnail blue and clear cups next to beverage dispenser


If you entertain frequently outdoors or have a pool where broken glass is a major concern, using products marketed for outdoor use is a great idea. This eliminates the safety concerns for you and your guests. Having a signature beverage available is always a great idea to keep your guests hydrated. An outdoor drink dispenser is just the thing you need!

Stefana Silber using beverage dispensers to fill a blue outdoor beaded cup, outdoor tablescape

Table | Chairs | Tablecloth | Drinkware | Flatware | Napkins | Placemats | Drink dispenser | Dispenser stand

By the way, if you don’t often eat outdoors or don’t have room to store all the extra outdoor dishware, it’s perfectly okay to use your everyday dishes outdoors!

Outdoor patio lighting and accessories

Just like the lighting design inside your home, creating an inviting atmosphere outdoors is just as important. You don’t want your guests to feel like they are being interrogated with flood lights. A few lanterns here and there or some string lights are all you need to bring that dreamy space to life.

Table | Chairs | String lights | Lanterns

Check out these accessories:

Now you can host a party or finally enjoy some quiet time in your cozy outdoor entertaining area!

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