Here are 10 ideas and products that I have used to transform my patio into a outdoor experience. Our family heads outside the minute the weather is above 60 degrees and we love to stretch our summer days relaxing around the fire pit. Therefore, we did our best to create an outdoor space that everyone enjoys, regardless of the weather. Hopefully your patio is covered to make the most out of your patio. If not, don't worry, I covered our patio at our old house in a couple of weeks and will share some of my tips and tricks for covering a patio in another post. Whether you are headed out back for dinner, to have a glass of wine after a long week or to watch the Sunday night football game this list will have you well on your way to an outdoor space you can't live without!
1. Music - This is one thing that I could not live with out when we are outside enjoying the weather. There are a couple of ways that you can easily add music, and I have added my favorite support products to this list because you may need a couple of new items to get the music outside to work effectively. I recommend an Amazon Music or a Pandora account, either works great but the Amazon one works well with the Echo's below!
2. Wireless network extender - If you don't have a wireless network outside, this is the first thing that I would add because it makes life easier and also, you don't waste data streaming on your phone. Side note.. if you don't have a wireless network....... please get one and join the 21st century! When you have a wireless network, your signal might not be strong enough to support multiple devices outside, and this is where a wireless network extender will come in handy. I have added a link to the one that I use, and the set up in less 30 minutes. The main thing to check as you are setting up the extender is the point in your home that your wireless signal starts to drop off. When you find your signal dropping a bar or two, and you are reasonably close to your outdoor space, find an outlet to and place the extender here. This will boost your signal and it will give you good wireless in your outdoor area. I used the extender to boost my in-laws signal so that we could catch Vandal games outside through ESPN Go as the Vandals don't usually play on the big networks... go figure!
3. Outdoor Speakers - Outdoor speakers are the next must have for your backyard paradise. Outdoor speakers were the first thing we installed when we moved into our house to ensure that we can enjoy Pandora's 60, 70, and 80 station or Bruno Mars radio when we are outside. There are many different wireless speaker systems and it really depends on your budget. I have used non-outdoor rated speakers, wireless sound bars (wall and battery powered), and also specifically designed out door speakers. They all work depending on your circumstance. When selecting your speakers, consider if your patio is covered, will the speakers be installed in a protected location, and do they need to charge before you use them (outlets matter here). My new speakers are installed in my eaves and they are wired to power but are wireless to link any device. Bluetooth is key if you want to do this project right and link your speakers to multiple devices.
4. Amazon Echo (Alexa) - Alexa is just like the I-pad in our household. I announced it was dumb and we would never own one. Well....... I own an I-pad and and I can also say that I am the proud owner of an Amazon Alexa. This little speaker / giver of knowledge is a piece of home entertainment that I don't think I would give up now. We have an Echo Show that we use inside our house for music and also have an echo dot that we use to tie into our Bluetooth speaker and play the unlimited music request that my kids have outside. Our Alexa is also linked to our Pandora account so it will play our favorite station while we are working or hanging around the house.
5. Outdoor TV - One of my favorite things to do is go outside on a fall day and watch college football. This is a little slice of heaven that I discovered after we covered our patio at the old house (hence I will always have a covered outdoor space now) . You can now find me most Saturday mornings during football season lounging, drinking coffee and watching a College Game Day. When choosing a TV, I have learned to love smart TV's because of all the extras. I am partial to Samsung TV's because I find quality is the best. However, I have bought a couple of cheap TV's as a temporary filler until I could save up for the TV of my dreams and those have held on a lot longer than I expected and I am still using one on our patio today. The moral of that story is to never turn down a great black Friday deal if you are looking for your perfect patio TV for a great price!
6. TV Wall Mount - Now that you have a TV you need to mount it to the wall. There are many types of wall mounts and the one that I would recommend is a swiveled mount. There are tons out there that can be used and will work, but the swivel allows you to change the angle and position of the TV. The sun is always a problem during the day so you will be able to account for its ever changing angle. If you mount your TV high enough, the sun is less of a worry, but you with not regret the swivel purchase even if you do not need to rotate, tilt, or pivot the TV. If you haven't noticed I really like the swivel feature and outdoors I feel this is a necessity.
7. Blu-Ray, Cable or Free TV - If the TV that you have outside is not a smart TV, you will definitely want to make it one. The easy way to do this is to buy a Roku/Fire Stick. These little devices are awesome. We use the Roku to listen to Pandora, watch ESPN and stream Netflix. Another thing that you can do is use the Roku/Fire Stick to stream through your cable provider and use it as another cable box without having to pay for the service of another cable box. This is also a nice little perk if your cable provider has a "watch it" on mobile app. If you can afford to have a cable box installed at this TV that is awesome, but the Roku/Fire Stick is just as good. Make sure that your wireless reaches outside, and if it doesn't scroll up and the devices above will help you out. After you have a million devices outside you will may need a HDMI switch outside if your TV has limited HDMI outputs. The last thing that can spruce up an outside TV is a Blu-ray/DVD player. A Blue Ray is nice so that you can watch movies and have an outside cinema. Also if the Blu-ray is a smart player you may not need the Roku/Fire Stick. Sometimes movie night is just fun outside with the kids.
8. Outdoor Heat - Depending on where you live, it can get cold in the evenings and during the spring/fall/winter months and some kind of a heating source might be the key to squeezing the last few hours out of your patio. I am a huge fan of natural gas now, but if you don't have a stub out on your house, portable propane tank is the easiest way to go. Because of the popularity of natural gas, more heating sources with a flame have this option or a conversion kit. You will want to pay attention to this little detail when buying items because they are not the same. I have products that are propane for heat, but my BBQ is natural gas because of ease. Big thing to pay attention to with these heaters is that you may from have to clean out the nozzle on the inside by the pilot light because things like to make nests or webs in these areas and will actually cause them not to light. This means your broken heater might actually be easily repaired with a little elbow grease! I have cleaned our propane heater at least every other year. One thing that we are also fond of is a table top heater. These heaters work well, but you will want to check to make sure that it will not melt your table. Table top heaters are a more reasonable option with regards to price and also because you can have it in the middle of the crowd if you are eating outside. A fire pit is also a nice touch for finishing out the night. A fire pit does take up some room if you place it permanently in a spot, but it also is something you will end up using all the time if you are like us. Our kids like to make s'mores by the fire and seem to negotiate their way into a later bedtime as the moments slip away snuggled in by the fire.
9. Outdoor Table - It seems like every time we set up an outdoor space, I end up making the table to fill the space. At first I don't want to and I think it is going to be to much of a hassle. Then I look around and see the prices and it drives me crazy how much retailers charge for a for an outdoor table set. So, as you can imagine, I end up coming up with a design based on what I have see online, at stores, or other DIY sites. You can buy anything you want but you want to make sure that it is a great piece for the center of your outdoor area. Below you can see the latest table I designed and build. Check out the link here for the easy to follow plans with complete material lists and links for online purchasing. This table will easily seat 6 - 8 people and looks awesome dressed up with metal seating. You can make the full table project for just under $100. Compare that to online prices and you just saved $400 - $500!
10. BBQ - You can't finish off any patio with out a great quality BBQ. I have owned my share of cheap BBQ's and have replaced them every other year and inevitably have rotting off or failing while I am mid cookout with the fam. It doesn't matter how many times I clean it, take it apart, or even replace items I still manage to have to spend the $150-$250 per cheap BBQ on repairs and extra parts. I finally ponied up and bought a Weber and I haven't looked back. I am extremely happy with my purchase, especially because I got a natural gas version and do not have to worry about having enough propane to finish my steaks. The key thing about a good BBQ is that the cold spots seem to be non-existent and they are easy to regulate a consistent temperature. With the warranties on the new Weber's, the worry of will this BBQ last for the money is non-existent. I bought the 3 burner Spirit II natural gas and couldn't be happier with the purchase. I bounced back and fourth between the Genesis and the Spirit because of the price and decided on the Spirit. This gave me some grief because I really wanted the Genesis with all of the added features and side burner that you can get, but for the cost was hard to justify. I am happy to report that the Spirit handles all my needs and I don't miss the side burner too much. (Though, lets be honest, if I ever upgrade in the future and get approval from the boss, Genesis it is!). An added bonus that I discovered during my most recent purchase is when I ordered through Amazon there was zero cost for expert assembly which turned out to be amazing. The assembly engineer gave me a call and scheduled an assembly appointment the day after the BBQ was set to arrive. The very nice and professional man showed up and unwrapped the box, used all of his own tools, photographed one damaged part and helped to arrange delivery of a replacement part at no cost. The BBQ was assembled in less than 2 hours and I enjoyed the entire process from the living room with a cold drink in my hand. I would recommend this to ANYONE purchasing a Weber online, as the process did not disappoint.
So with that, we will wrap up this post. If you gain even a single idea from this post then I am happy. I hope you can see that you can install any of these products incrementally and as your budget allows. I would say the easiest and cost effective one would be the speakers and extending your WiFi if it doesn't reach outside. This will have a huge impact on the entertainment options you have in your outdoor space. After this you can slowly add the TV. The updated BBQ and so on.
Thanks for hanging with me and please come back soon! In some of my upcoming projects we will look at adding even more to your outdoor spaces and backyard. This includes private sitting areas (at least the feel of it), garden planters, fire pits, and more. I also have some indoor projects coming up. Have you ever wanted to build a pallet wall? I have one on the way! Stay tuned and Lets Keep Improving! Jeff
#OutdoorLiving #EntertainmentOutside #PatioUpgrade #OutdoorTV #OutdoorNetwork #OutdoorParty