Outdoor Livin'... It's So Easy!

Almost everyone loves the outdoors, and almost everyone needs outdoor furniture.

Whether it's a lazy summer day sipping lemonade or a breezy summer evening sipping cocktails, entertaining in a effectively furnished outdoor space can mean the difference between another informal gathering of friends or a memorable night of Kodak moments.

Picking the right furniture, or lack thereof, is the key regardless of the space you have. Decks, gazebos, pools, cabanas, outdoor bars, etc.. are well and good, but if you don't have some of the basics, a fancy and ornate outdoor patio is really nothing more than glorified wood on the ground.

Space is obviously an issue, so it's important when deciding what to occupy it with that you take a moment to envision the types of activities you plan to have going on when friends or family stop by.

If you are the entertaining type, furniture that is easily moved, rearranged and picked up can not only save your back but your budget. If you plan on hosting larger groups of friends often, opt for lightweight—even plastic—furnishings that can be easily rearranged depending on the crowd and the mood.

Instead of one larger table, opt instead to pick two, even three, that can be easily moved to accommodate smaller groups within the larger group. Once the tables are in place, place a few chairs around. The multiple tables will encourage movement among guests, and the lightweight chairs will make it possible for smaller groups to turn into larger groups.

Always strategically place furnishings to congregate within a main locale, centered with a table surrounded by a few chairs or benches. Place the other pieces around the area, and make sure to centralize any food and drink tables away from all of the seating arrangements to encourage guests to walk around or move their chairs and mingle.

If a more intimate atmosphere is in store, sturdier and more centralized furnishings are in order. Wrought iron furniture is not only durable, but elegant, and with the right cushions (cleaned, of course, before the guests arrive) can be extremely comfortable and create a relaxed yet more refined mood.

A love seat and a few matching chairs surrounding a larger outdoor coffee table is the perfect setting for tea, coffee and conversation.

With any space, make sure the furniture is matched to the mood. If a beach style theme is what you're after, seek out furniture that uses light woods or wicker to create the cabana style atmosphere. Outdoor plants and flowers can also set the tone—be it beach bum casual or Riviera style relaxation.

With any outdoor space, big, small, elegant or casual, make sure not to overdo it. A beach theme is nice, but you can only have so many pink lawn flamingos before the neighbors call the town style police.