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A fire pit with seating on either side, surrounded by a gabion wall.

Landscape Architecture

Four Must-Haves for Summertime Get-Togethers

With holiday weekends and summer gatherings starting in earnest, you may be thinking more about what your outdoor space needs to be comfortable for you, your family, and your guests to enjoy. Never fear! It doesn’t take much to take your outdoor space from good to great in preparation for your next get-together.

June 30, 2022

Summer is upon us! And though it’s been a slow transition in the Pacific Northwest, we’re finally getting some of the sun and warmth every Seattlite looks forward to. Outside is the place to be in the summertime, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where mild days and nights make outdoor gatherings a joy.

We’ve watched the trends and know outdoor spaces need to be more multi-purpose than ever. And with barbeque already in full swing, there’s no better time to make sure your yard or outdoor space is ready to keep you, your family, and your guests comfortable at any time of day.

Finding shelter from the sun is a must on warm summer days.

Even with moderate temperatures, hanging out in the heat of the afternoon sun can be tiring. And dangerous if you forgot your sunscreen! For your next backyard shindig, make sure you have plenty of space where folks can still enjoy the party, just out of the sun.

Umbrellas

Adding an adjustable umbrella or awning is an easy and cost-effective way to create some shade in a sunny backyard. Many are adjustable so you can direct them exactly where they need to be to block out the sun’s harsh rays.

Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass panels completely open the living room to the deck. — Cloverdale House – Second Story Addition by Board & Vellum
Sun Shading

This full-sun deck benefits from an adjustable umbrella so the homeowners can enjoy the sun without getting scorched.

They’re easy to find, install, and use in most existing outdoor spaces. Some are even portable for even more ease of use.

Built-In Canopies

Take your outdoor space to the next level with a built-in canopy for permanent coverage from the elements. They’re easier to add than adjusting your roofline and can create unique and comfortable spaces without a total remodel.

A large canopy covers a deck with an outdoor kitchen, hot tub, and shower. - Backyard Covered Kitchen – Board & Vellum
Weather Protection

This canopy is unique – it’s designed to let in some sun while also protecting from other elements, like the rain, for fun in any season.

A canopy means you’ll always have a spot to settle in regardless of the weather — even an unexpected afternoon shower!

It’s not a party without some great food.

Can it really be a summer get-together if no one is grilling something? We tend to think not.

Outdoor Kitchens

Is grilling your jam? Then you can’t go wrong with a decked-out outdoor kitchen. We’re talking grill, fridge, sink — the works. It’s totally worth it if you love to entertain.

A covered outdoor kitchen features stainless steel counters and storage, a grill and a smoker. - Backyard Covered Kitchen – Board & Vellum
Everything and the Kitchen Sink

This covered outdoor kitchen has all the features of a tranditional indoor one, just outside.

Not only do outdoor kitchens give you all the conveniences of an indoor kitchen, but they also keep you in the center of all the action since you don’t have to keep going inside to prep or grab supplies.

Indoor/Outdoor Connection

If you like to keep the cooking inside, we get it. If that’s more your style, a great indoor-outdoor connection can keep you connected to your gathering while keeping any food you're preparing safe from bugs, pets, or tiny hands.

The strong architectural lines of the home are complemented by the softness of frothy, meadow-like plantings. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Make a Connection

See that big opening between this patio and kitchen? That’s a glass wall that folds entirely away for a seamless connection from indoors to out. (Architecture by Sandall Norrie Architects.)

It’s common to add French or sliding doors to a kitchen or dining space to create this connection. But if you want to go all out, consider a bi-fold glass door that maximizes your views and access whatever the season.

Ample places to sit will keep you and your company relaxed.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of seating in a yard. Sure, any old lawn or camp chair will do. Or even a blanket in a pinch. But you can take your space to the next level with comfortable and stylish outdoor furniture that’s right-sized and suits your specific needs.

Built-In Benches

If you have a deck or patio space (or are thinking about updating your deck soon) consider adding built-in bench seating to your design. It looks chic year-round and can be treated and refinished along with your regular deck maintenance schedule.

Queen Anne Gambrel – Integrated Design for Indoor/Outdoor Living – Board & Vellum
Just-Right Seating

This built-in bench offers comfortable seating, custom fit for casual dining, as well as a small planter for seasonal plantings.

We love creating build-in seating customized to the space, like an outdoor dining nook or bench seating with built-in beds for flowers or a small vegetatable or herb garden. Add some outdoor pillows and a few blankets to up the comfort factor, day or night.

Free-Standing Furniture

If you know Board & Vellum, you know we’re huge advocates for great outdoor spaces that feel like extensions of your indoor living spaces. Outdoor furniture can go a long way to creating an outdoor space that feels like a room itself.

West Seattle Mid-Century – Board & Vellum
Creature Comforts

Comfortable furniture, like this peice made specifically for the outdoors, give your outdoor rooms all the comfort of the indoors on a warm summer day.

There’s a wide range of options to suit whatever your needs are, like picnic tables, lounge chairs, couches, and more. Plus, free-standing furniture can be rearranged whenever you need a different configuration for your gathering or different-sized groups.

As the sun sets, keep the party going with a comfortable source of heat.

The party doesn’t stop just because the sun goes down! Keep your guests and family comfortable by adding heat sources that keep it cozy even after dark.

Fire Pits

Blankets are a great and simple addition to any gathering, but an obvious choice (for good reason) is adding a fire pit. They’re warming, comforting, and add ambiance as you transition from day to night.

Tall fencing, layered plantings, and gabion blocks form the edge of an outdoor room anchored with a fire pit to take the chill off cool nights. – North Beach Refresh – Board & Vellum landscape architecture.
Sheltered Backyard Fire Pit

Tucked into a cozy corner, this fire pit creates a cozy focal point and gathering space.

Whether you go with a wood-burning model or a gas version, you can’t go wrong. And with free-standing and integrated, built-in options, you’re sure to find something that works for you. Bring on the s’mores!

Heaters

They aren’t just for the inside! If you’ve ever eaten outside at a restaurant in the shoulder seasons, you’ve probably experienced the comfort of an outdoor heater and how much it can improve your outdoor experience once the sun goes down.

Looking across the deck toward to valley-view below. The sun hangs low in the sky casting light and shadow across the deck. Charcoal-colored planters lining the deck overflow with green, purple, and magenta plants. – Residential landscape by Board & Vellum
Heat Up

Look closely and you'll see heaters tucked into the roof extending over this porch. They add comfort for all seasons without taking up much-needed floor space.

Restaurants aren’t the only places these heaters can be useful. Adding them to your deck or patio gives you a built-in option for warming up at the flick of a switch.


Up your summer yard party game by adding any or all of these to your existing outdoor space. And remember, the best parties are ones shared with great friends with great conversation – the rest is just icing on the cake!

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