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I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and today, Vancouver truly lived up to its reputation—for beauty, not rain. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, the temperature was a balmy 14°C, and the crisp smell of spring was in the air. It was fabulous. Not just because I got to enjoy my afternoon latte while sitting outside at a local coffee shop, but because today got me thinking about something much more important—the upcoming patio season! This year prepare to have a great time right outside your front door—or back door! Regardless of where you are in the country, summer will be here before you know it, so now is the time to get yourself set for the season. All you need are a few key essentials, and you can turn your patio into a great outdoor space for everyone to enjoy.

Patio Furniture

patio-furniture.jpgNo patio is complete without ample seating and at least one table to hold snacks, beverages, and even the occasional board game. That said, the size of your patio or deck and the size of your household will obviously dictate how much furniture you’ll need. You’ll at least want somewhere for everyone in your family to sit and for them to enjoy their favourite activities. Let’s look at my balcony for an example. I’m single and live in a one-bedroom apartment with a patio that is about 7’ x 7’ squared. It’s not big, but I love eating outside in the summer months, and also enjoy reading out there as well. So I have two super comfy wicker chairs similar to this Zuo Park Island Arm Chair that let me read in the sun while looking out at the ocean (it’s a tough life), and a matching side table to hold my wine glass. I also have a small bistro table with two chairs, so combined, I have ample seating for either a small gathering or an intimate dinner party.

If you’ve got more space to work with, you can add a sofa and coffee table to the mix, literally bringing your living room outside. Have even more space? Why not make your outdoor living area more intimate, and a little more protected from the elements with a patio gazebo? The underside of my upstairs neighbours’ patio is my gazebo, and it’s not all that sexy. And, come on, how much fun is “gazebo” to say? “Come sit with me in the gazeeebo …” Ok, I digress. You could also opt for a large umbrella like this 3m, offset one from CorLiving.

Lastly, as far as patio furniture is concerned, if I had the extra space, I’d also throw in a couple of these fantastic reclining lounge chairs so you can take a snooze, get some colour, or even just give that extra special friend who tends to overindulge somewhere cozy to sleep it off!

BBQ

bbq.jpgA BBQ is to a patio what sunshine is to a tan. It’s an absolute must. Just like furniture, the size and capabilities of your BBQ will be directly related to how much room you’re working with. If you happen to have one of those giant gourmet backyards that comes equipped with its own kitchen and bar, well, first off, I’m jealous, but that means you have the luxury of opting for a built in gas grill. If you’re looking for a more “standard” BBQ, try to make sure you get one with at least one additional burner (like the 6 burner 75000 BTU BBQ shown here) so you can sauté the mushrooms for your burgers, boil delicious corn on the cob, or make your famous bananas flambé, all from the convenience of one spot.

If you have a small patio like me, you can still enjoy all the BBQ goodness you want this summer with a tabletop grill. I have one similar to this Char-Broil Patio Bistro Tabletop Grill, and it’s perfect for my needs. I can bring it out when the BBQ bug grabs me, and when not in use, I just store it nicely underneath my bistro table. Plus, because it uses electric, TRU-Infrared cooking technology, there’s no need to find extra room to store a propane tank.

Music

ue-boom.jpgWhether you’re chilling out after a long day of work with some relaxing jazz, or you’re hosting an epic mid-summer patio party, you’ll need some music pumping outside. That’s where wireless outdoor speakers come into the mix. Even better, that’s where wireless Bluetooth speakers come into the mix, like the UE Boom speaker or the JBL Charge 2. With both speakers, you can stream your music from any Bluetooth-enabled device for hours of good times. One thing to keep in mind though is your neighbours. I may have had a party last summer where we played music outside until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, I received a stern warning from my landlord to not pull that kind of stunt again. So just be cognizant of your surroundings when you are listening to tunes outside. Sound tends to travel, so if you live in an urban area, it’s best to turn things down at a reasonable hour. Check out my post on top customer-rated portable Bluetooth speakers to see which option might work best for you.

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Lighting

Next on the patio essentials list is lighting. I’m a fan of stake lights, like this solar version from Fusion. You simply stick them into your garden pathways or your planters, and because they run on solar power you don’t need to worry about any cumbersome wires and where in the heck you are going to plug them in. Much like listening to music outside, it’s important to think of your neighbours when it comes to outdoor lighting. There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep when your room is illuminated by the beams of light coming from next-door’s patio! Trust me on that one!

Heating

Lastly, to make the most out of your patio this summer, consider a heater so when the sun goes down you aren’t forced to move inside. Patio heaters like this one from Paramount have come down substantially in price over the past several years, so adding one or more to your patio is really an affordable option. Said to be the most powerful heater on the market, the Paramount Stainless Steel Pro Series is exceptionally durable and will stand up to the wide variety of weather Canada throws our way. Again, if you don’t have the space for a standalone heater, consider a tabletop version. Ideal for smaller patios, tabletop heaters don’t just warm up a space, but they also double as ambient lighting, so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Now, imagine yourself sitting outside on your patio, in a comfortable chair, sipping a glass of Pinot Gris while listening to your favourite tunes. You’ve got a burger on the BBQ, your solar lights are charging, and your heater is ready to be turned on when the sun goes down and a summer chill fills the air. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? With just a few essentials, you can create an outdoor space that you are sure to enjoy all season, regardless of how big or small it might be.