Deck envy. It’s a thing. Ditto for a case of backyard jealousy. It’s high time you join the ranks of yard MVP, because your backyard is the backdrop for beer trades, reading sessions, WFH marathons, and even more than a few dinner parties this summer. It’s all possible with some strategic backyard upgrades.
Maybe your deck deserves some TLC, or it’s time to overhaul your patio. From furniture to fire pits, TVs to projectors, and lawn tools to epic grills, here are the backyard upgrades we’re buying to make for an even better entertaining space for summer and beyond. P.S. Only have a small sliver of deck real estate? Check out this guide to transforming your tiny patio.
The Best Backyard Upgrades for Summer Entertaining
1. FLOR Area Rugs
The same way a carpet adds warmth to your indoor space, your outdoor lounging areas can enjoy a facelift from these attractive area rugs. Because they’re composed of 50 cm x 50 cm “tiles,” they can be custom-made to fit your needs. Go bold with punchy hues and patterns, or err on the side of subdued with neutrals. We love the versatility; the area rugs can be laid down in covered spaces (think under an awning) or in enclosed structures (like a screened-in porch). The carpet is fine for regular vacuuming, as its top fibers are made of nylon and PET, while the backing is a vinyl composite (increasingly made from recycled materials). If you’re dealing with spilled wine or other stains, clean individual tiles in the sink with mild detergent.
[From $12-$14 per tile; flor.com]
2. Neighbor The Sectional
There are backyard upgrades you want and backyard upgrades you need. New outdoor furniture falls in the latter category. This new DTC outdoor furniture brand—founded by Tuft & Needle alum—is one to watch if you’re in the market for seriously stylish chairs, sectionals, dining sets, and more. Gun for this handsome modular sectional with quick-drying foam cushions and a solid teak wood frame. It can be configured to fit your outdoor space’s layout no matter how many times you rearrange things. Choose from several waterproof, fade-resistant fabric colors.
[From $2,900; hineighbor.com]
3. Asher 22″ Wood-Burning Fire Pit
Whether you’re using a fire pit as a gathering place on breezy evenings or to cook up dinner, we dig this modern silhouette from designers and developers Cortney and Robert Novogratz. They’re best known for their eponymous furniture and housewares line, as well as their work on American boutique hotels and stints on HGTV and Bravo. In addition to a 19-inch cooking surface (yes, this means multi-person marshmallow roasting), the set includes a mesh dome, steel lid, and rain cover.
4. SunbriteTV Veranda Outdoor LED HDR TV (Full Shade)
Why head inside to catch the game when you can watch TV on this 4K screen with direct LED backlight that’s up to 50 percent brighter than indoor sets? With SunbriteTV, you don’t have to worry about the elements thanks to its aluminum case that shields against rain, snow, extreme temperatures, dust, salt, and insects. You also don’t have to worry about boredom with a simple cable hookup and a weatherproof media bay to hold your Roku, Apple TV, etc. Built-in speakers are included in this model, but you can also add a SunBriteTV outdoor soundbar.
5. StruXure Pergola X
If you’ve been toying with the idea of erecting a pergola for a while, now’s the chance to treat yourself to the Pergola X, which features technology to open, close, pivot, and slide your pergola to control how much sun comes into your setup. The smartly designed louvers turn 170 degrees, so you can determine whether you want full sun, no sun, or somewhere in between—no matter the time of day. These customizable pergolas include add-ons such as fans, lights, screens, and more, and can be used in cooler months with features like wind sensors, and snow and freeze control. After all, backyard upgrades should last all year round.
[From ~$100 per square foot; struxure.com]
6. Novogratz Paulette Outdoor Table + Bench Set
This dining set manages to be equal parts playful and elegant—perfect for suburban backyards. The table is designed to sit four, but six can comfortably gather round for BBQs or brunch. Don’t stress if your crew is on the messy side: The synthetic wood is maintenance-free and the steel frame is weather-resistant. Opt among Charcoal Grey, Bright Yellow, Persimmon, or Bright White.
7. Spark One Starter Bundle
This grill touts itself as the first precision charcoal grilling system with temperature control. It combines the taste-enhancing properties of charcoal with the ease of gas—and its app can turn any user into a backyard BBQ whiz. Minimalists will love the grill’s clean lines and smooth edges, almost reminiscent of Smeg appliances. The temperature ranges from 250°F to 900°F, so fire up the pizza pack or pull out your finest grilling gear for some low-and-slow ‘cue.
8. POLYWOOD Modern Adirondack Chair
What’s a deck without an Adirondack chair? Plant your butt in this sturdy, comfortable model—made from recycled plastic—and you’ll be hard-pressed to get up. It comes with a 20-year warranty, ensuring many happy backyard sessions to come. Pro tip: Tack on the ottoman ($109) for added comfort.
[From $239; polywood.com]
9. Novogratz Sally Hanging Swing
Laze the day away in this uber-comfortable swinging chair that’s both visually attractive and practical. The chair is constructed from weather-resistant steel and finished with a woven wicker. Now all you need is one of the hottest new books of 2021 and an afternoon away from your work computer.
10. Kaiyo Arhaus Sevilla Outdoor Swivel Chair
For an eco-friendly splurge, we’re big fans of Kaiyo, the gently used furniture online marketplace that offers brands like Restoration Hardware, Design Within Reach, West Elm, Room and Board, and more. The company contributes to a more sustainable planet by buying previously owned furnishings and planting a tree for every order completed (as of publish date, Kaiyo has kept over 2,140,566 million pounds of furniture out of landfills). Originally $1,799, this all-season accent seating, handwoven by Indonesian artisans, is a real standout. It’s built to last thanks to weather-resistant polyester rope and a rustproof aluminum frame.
11. Optoma UHD38
Enjoying a crisp, brilliant picture while lounging on your patio never looked better. This 4K Ultra HD projector is great for your next movie night under the stars (or if you want to take your gaming console outdoors for some fresh air). Featuring stunning color, high contrast, and superb brightness, this baby purportedly offers the lowest input lag on a 4K projector.
12. Bulbrite String Lights
Bulbrite’s design-forward string lights connect to your home’s Wi-Fi. The smart LED bulbs use far less energy than traditional ones and are weather-resistant to boot, so you don’t have to worry about the elements. Personally, we’re fans of the antique finish with tinted glass and amber filaments or fiesta-style bulbs, but there’s no shortage of great styles and sizes to choose from.
[From $55 for 14-foot Black String Light with 10 bulbs; amazon.com]
13. Husqvarna 220iL Battery Trimmer/Edger
Cut the cord with this battery-powered hedge trimmer. The 220iL comes equipped with a push-button boost mode that delivers 20 percent more oomph if you’re dealing with some gnarly bushes, while a specially designed dual-direction rotating head safely controls clippings and debris. At only 10 pounds, it’s also much less cumbersome to carry than other trimmers on the market and features a simple trigger for ease of use.
14. Berkley Jensen 6-Lumen Solar Disk Mark Lights
This six-pack of lights operates on rechargeable batteries—no unsightly wiring necessary. With an elegant stainless steel finish, the weather-resistant lights provide a warm white LED glow for navigating your yard, garden, or walkway at night. FYI: Sturdy plastic ground stakes are included with your purchase.
15. Samsung 75″ Terrace QLED 4K Smart TV
If you want to go the luxury route with your outdoor TV, it’s hard to argue with a 75-inch flatscreen. This one delivers an amazing QLED picture with direct-sun protection, 4K resolution, and weather-resistant features. It comes with three HDMI inputs, one USB port, and multiple voice assistants (including Alexa and Google Assistant), as well as Wi-FI and Bluetooth connection.
16. SONOS Lunar White Roam Smart Speaker
Do you leave your screen door open to let the tinny music from your Alexa spill out onto the patio? Invest in this weather-resistant speaker instead. Connect your smartphone to the speaker via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (or spring for a second Roam to create a stereo pair) to blast your favorite music, podcast, or radio station. The speaker weighs less than a pound, so it’s easy to tote along to the beach, boat, or next vacation.
17. Clermont Grill Pellet Grill and Smoker
This grill-and-smoker hybrid provides 1,400 square inches of cooking space to smoke, grill, bake, sear, char-grill, barbecue, braise, and roast to your heart’s delight. We appreciate the large viewing windows, allowing you to check on your food’s doneness. The oversized backlit LCD controller has a temperature gauge and other cooking stats, plus Wi-Fi remote monitoring via the Cuisinart Easy Connect mobile app for a seamless outdoor grilling experience.
18. Jasco Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights
Throwing a party? These lights give you 56 different color combinations and six shades of white light to choose from. Get creative with your color schemes for sports-viewing sessions, holidays, and birthday parties. It’s all controlled by the Enbrighten Wi-Fi app or voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
[$150 for 24-foot strand with 12 lights; lowes.com]
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