Even the best planned Memorial Day parties need a little boost, and that can come from strategically arranged furnishings. Home decorating enthusiasts already understand how important furniture arrangement is for any room. The same is true outdoors — it can bring people together, or make them feel miles apart.
Furniture groupings create the flow and comfort of any space. They direct foot traffic, make it easier for people to have conversations, and help other people feel that they have some privacy. It’s as simple, and as technical, as all that.
Here are some tips to guide you, whether your outdoor space is tight, moderate, or if you’ve got plenty of room to spare:
Outdoor Home Decorating When Space is Tight
You don’t need an expansive deck, patio, or garden to design a comfortable place to entertain. Where square footage is tight, rely on the minimum spacing for your arrangements.
Generally, 3 1/2 feet is the least amount of comfort spacing between lounge-style seating. You’ll want end tables at approximately the same height as arm rests, and coffee or cocktail tables shouldn’t be closer than 18 inches.
Avoid the temptation to push more furnishings together. This makes the area feel and look, cramped. It also strangles the flow of the room, making it easier to bump elbows and impeding the foot paths.
At a dining area, seating should be no closer than 24 inches apart. Don’t forget about room to walk around the table; you’ll need approximately 36 inches from the edge of the table to any wall.
If space is really tight, consider bench-style seating. A large picnic table centered in the area can serve as a place for casual meals and conversation.
Party Decorating Where There’s Room to Stretch Out
Believe it or not, a moderate-sized space is much easier to decorate than an overly large one. You’ve got plenty of room to meet the minimum furniture spacing for comfort, but you don't run the risk of creating a cavernous space where people feel miles apart.
On a moderate deck or patio, aim for a couple of dedicated groupings. One area is for relaxing and conversation, and another for dining.
Focal points of the patio or deck can dictate where your groupings are placed. (Read: 6 Hottest Outdoor Living Features). If there’s an outdoor fireplace, that’s a natural spot for comfortable chairs and a cocktail table. If your home decorating plans include an outdoor kitchen, place the dining area near that spot for convenience.
Watch out for lighting and centerpieces that cross the path of vision. Where people are seated, lighting should be high enough, and decorative arrangements low enough, so your guests can see each other without straining.
Outdoor Home Decorating for Large, Open Spaces
Large decks and patios are nearly as challenging to decorate as small ones. (Read: Decks to Die For). You’re not confined by size, so furnishings can be as large as you like. But you do need to pay close attention to creating clusters, and keeping furnishings in those clusters close enough for comfort.
If you entertain differently, with small gatherings sometimes and large parties at other times, bench seating around the perimeter of the space is a great solution. This lets you bring in additional tables when you need them, as the benches create the seating for one side. It also gives guests choices on where to sit down.
When arranging furniture in a very large space, you’ll need to watch maximum spacing. If lounge chairs are more than 10 feet apart, you’ll lose all of the intimacy of a grouping, and guests may feel isolated.
Outdoor home decorating shares many similarities with decorating inside your home. You want groupings to encourage conversation without throwing people too close together, and you don’t want anyone to struggle to move about.
Watch your minimum and maximum spacing, and any arrangement you envision will likely work just as it should. When all else fails, take it for a test run before the party begins. Where you feel comfortable, chances are you guests will, too.
This is the time of year for enjoying the sun and stars, so find a project and have fun creating that special space (more outdoor decorating ideas on Pinterest) and enjoying it when done. Which outdoor decorating project will you take on this month?