Lifestyle blogger Carrie Waller knows how to throw a party. For ample proof of that, just take a look at her charming DIY wedding. She makes it look so easy.
And easy entertaining is the subject we’re interested in here. Easy outdoor entertaining, specifically. We asked Carrie to show us how she’d set her backyard deck up for a little dining al fresco with a few friends. It’s part of our Patio Style Challenge series in which we send a Home Depot patio set to prominent lifestyle bloggers to see the amazing patio decor ideas they come up with.
Carrie served up a delicious grilled pizza recipe, a couple of easy DIY projects for the table setting and tips for a simple tablescape guaranteed to make guests feel welcomed.
Read on to see her ideas for easy outdoor entertaining.
When it comes to entertaining, for me it’s all about simplifying. I fill the gaps between platters of homemade finger foods with store-bought goodies. I have a running collection of special occasion dishes within easy reach, and I grab up budget linens whenever I see them on sale. All to make last minute parties a cinch to pull off.
But outdoor entertaining? With so many additional layers, like indoor/outdoor fabrics, casual (read: unbreakable!) party ware and chic accessories fit for the outdoors, it was only recently that I gathered the gumption to try it out myself.
Happily, pulling it all off isn’t nearly as daunting as I had initially thought!
Indoor/outdoor fabrics? The options are endless—colorful patterna are not, in fact, limited to sofas and chairs surrounded by a roof and four walls.
And what about partyware and outdoor accessories?
There may not be anything better… Fears, begone, because outdoor entertaining is one of the most exciting parts of the season—a season well worth a celebration.
But first things first before jumping straight to the celebration.
I needed an armload of supplies.
My one stop shop this time around was The Home Depot. As part of this year’s Patio Style Challenge, I had a blast dreaming big and mentally reiterating those three little words: “Let’s DO this.”
It all got done on budget, on time and on trend with just a few creative thoughts and more than a little corner-cutting to make it just right for us and our family.
The Patio Dining Set
To get this party started (literally!), we had some pretty fabulous inspiration—namely the Hampton Bay Edington Butterfly Extension Patio Dining Table and Edington Patio Dining Chairs.
The heavy-duty aluminum dining set is lovely and durable—a magic formula I’ve found to be a bit elusive up until now. With pretty scrollwork across the entire surface of both the table and the chairs, plus an ingenious built-in leaf extension system, this set is likely to be with us well into our old age.
To add a little bit of vibrancy to the oil-rubbed bronze finish of the set, I tossed a colorful collection of Martha Stewart Living Charlottetown throw pillows at the backs of the chairs. The outdoor fabric makes them ideal for exposure to the elements, but they are still as soft as ever.
Playing off of the poppy red theme established by the pillows, I created DIY placemats made from what, you might ask? Vinyl flooring!
I bought a single run of flooring (it comes in 12′ by 1′ lengths, minimum for about $6) from the Home Depot. Using a box cutter, I cut it down into four 1×2′ rectangles—with several feet left over, of course.
A few coats of red spray paint later made them a natural accompaniment to the tablescape for a fraction of the price of designer placemats or tablecloths. Plus, now our nice new table is protected from things like barbecue sauce splatters and red wine spills.
The last piece to our DIY tablescape? The centerpiece.
I made the DIY vases from PVC pipes of varying diameters cut to size using a miter box and saw. I coated each in a couple of layers of crisp white spray paint. Once the paint was dry, I nested pre-planted flower pots in the openings, allowing the different heights to give each of the plants a moment in the spotlight.
But of course, no party is complete without the fixings!
You may have already gotten a taste—pun intended!—of our homemade grilled pizzas as set on the table. These tasty made-to-order treats were a breeze to make thanks to a dual-purpose DIY workstation and our brand new Brinkmann Range 2-burner Propane Gas Grill.
Simply assemble each individual pizza on naan bread, complete with toppings of choice, and pop on the grill at a low heat until the cheese is melted and the crust crisps up.
I created a calligraphy sign with a special message to complete the look of the patio. It was pretty easy to make. Check out the DIY Calligraphy Patio Sign Tutorial on my blog, and make one yourself!
Rethink Your Reservations
If you, too, feel a bit anxious about the idea of outdoor entertaining, I personally challenge you this season to rethink those reservations! Practice makes perfect, so start small, keep it simple and above all, enjoy each and every lovely moment that spring has to offer.
Now, as Vinny the dog would say, let’s eat!
Carrie Waller is a freelance writer, designer and blogger living in Lynchburg, Virginia with her husband, John, and pets Rocky, Luna, Ginny and Tonks. (Vinny the dog lives with Carrie’s parents, but he often visits.) She writes about DIY, design and life on her blog Dream Green DIY. See more photos of this patio styling project on her blog.
To decorate her deck, Carrie started with the Hampton Bay Edington Butterfly Extension Patio Dining Table and Edington Patio Dining Chairs from The Home Depot.
For more outdoor decorating ideas and inspiration, see other Patio Style Challenges as well as our Patio Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. And browse our online Outdoor Living Department for everything you need for your patio, yard or garden.