It's all about ambiance.

By Maryn Liles
April 29, 2021
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From dining al fresco to nights spent around the fire pit, creating an inviting outdoor living space will help you enjoy summer weather to its fullest. No matter how ordinary your outdoor space looks currently, you can quickly transform it into an inviting oasis by adding a few simple, decorative touches.

The secret to success: Amp up the cozy factor so your outdoor entertaining area feels like an extension of your home.

Whether you have just a few square feet of outdoor living space available on your apartment's balcony or have a giant porch or patio in your backyard that needs some love, we promise — these easy outdoor decorating ideas will take it from blah to beautiful and inviting in no time.

1. Create a sense of privacy with a metal screen.

6 ft. H x 4 ft. W Screen Series Metal Privacy Screen
Credit: Wayfair

A free-standing metal privacy screen with a decorative cut-out pattern will define your space and give your outdoor area a more intimate feel. This pretty pick from Wayfair is equal parts edgy and elegant and can be moved around your outdoor entertaining space as needed to hide any eyesores.

Buy It: Veradek 6' x 4' Metal Privacy Screen, $300; Wayfair

2. Set the mood with solar lanterns and string lighting.

Large Rattan Teardrop Solar LED Lantern
Credit: World Market

Hang trendy rattan lanterns from the trees with metal, double-sided hooks like these, or run weatherproof, solar-powered string lights overhead to give your outdoor entertaining space an inviting glow. They're solar-powered, so they're the ultimate "set it and forget it" type of decor; you won't have to worry about turning them on or off — or have a sky-high electricity bill.

Buy It: Large Rattan Solar LED Lantern, $50; World Market

3. Add coziness with an outdoor rug.

Blue 6 ft. x 9 ft. Geometric Polypropylene Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug
Credit: Home Deopt

The single fastest way to make your outdoor entertaining space more inviting is to dress it up with a patterned, polypropylene rug. It'll give our space instant outdoor living room vibes, while hiding any unsightly decking or cracked concrete.

Buy It: 6' x 9' Blue Geometric Indoor/Outdoor Rug, $100; Home Depot

4. Warm up on chilly evenings with a fire pit.

Firepit kit 43.5-in x 12.5-in Fire Pit
Credit: Lowe's

From the delicious campfire scent to the added warmth, make summer evenings even sweeter by adding a wood-burning fire pit to your outdoor oasis. Try a DIY flagstone fire pit kit like this one that you can build on gravel or directly on top of your patio, or opt for one like this that's ready to go.

Buy It: Stone DIY Fireplace Kit, $229; Lowe's

5. Set up the ultimate outdoor dining space.

Alfresco II Grey Rectangular Dining Table
Credit: Crate & Barrel

A sleek outdoor table that seats eight offers unlimited entertaining possibilities, whether you're enjoying a meal outside or playing a card game with your family or friends. Styles like this one with a built-in umbrella hole offer added functionality.

Buy It: Alfresco II Grey Rectangular Dining Table, $699; Crate & Barrel

6. Invest in a wow-worthy set of melamine dishes.

Drip Reactive Outdoor Melamine Dinner Plates, Multi
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Known for being nearly indestructible, shatter-proof melamine dishware is the ideal solution for outdoor entertaining, whether you're serving an al fresco dinner or need the perfect perch for your s'mores ingredients. A chic set like this that has the look of reactive glazed ceramic will keep your setup looking classy.

Buy It: Drip Reactive Outdoor Melamine Dinner Plates (Set of 4), $60; Williams Sonoma

7. Level up the lounge factor with outdoor pillows.

Sunbrella Outdoor Toss Pillows
Credit: The Company Store

Make old metal patio chairs more inviting (and prettier!) with the addition of outdoor toss pillows. Not only will they soften up hard seating, their UV-resistant fabric will wake up your outdoor entertaining space with a playful pop of pattern and color. For even more visual interest, go for a mix of styles or choose outdoor pillows with texture — like this festive striped one with fringe.

Buy It: Sunbrella Outdoor Toss Pillow, $49; The Company Store

8. Make entertaining easier with a rolling bar cart.

Glasgow Metal Bar Cart Black
Credit: Target

An industrial-style, wheeled metal cart makes dining al fresco or enjoying drinks around the fire pit even easier, since there's plenty of room to stash a cooler, serving dishes, glassware and more. Plus, adding this furniture-like piece to your outdoor entertainment setup will make your space feel even more livable and lounge worthy. Doing more drinking than dining? Try a colorful steel furniture-style patio cooler instead.

Buy It: Project 62 Glasgow Metal Bar Cart, $160; Target

9. Create luxe resort vibes with outdoor curtains.

Sun Zero Borneo Tropical Foliage Indoor/Outdoor UV Protectant 96-Inch Grommet Window Curtain in Blue
Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

Sure, fade-resistant curtains with UPF 50 UV Protection will save your skin and help create some shade on the sunniest summer days. But more than that, hanging water-resistant curtains from your pergola will dress up your outdoor entertaining area instantly and give it that extra touch of resort-inspired luxury. Who wouldn't love that?

Buy It: Sun Zero Borneo Tropical Indoor/Outdoor Curtain, $24; Bed Bath & Beyond

10. Liven things up with the perfect playlist.

JBL Charge 4
Credit: Macy's

Whether you're playing subtle background music or ready to get the party started, a waterproof speaker is a must when it comes to creating an inviting outdoor entertaining space. This model from JBL, which boasts 20 hours of play time, even has a built-in power bank that can charge four devices simultaneously so you can keep phones powered up while entertaining all night long. Looking for something more low-tech? A pretty wind chime will do the trick.

Buy It: JBL Charge 4, $130; Macy's