Backyard Living: Entertaining Outside

Back Yard Living Well designed table for backyard living and entertaining.

Call Of The Great Outdoors

As I write this post, the wind is howling, the rain is beating down and snow is on the way. Just yesterday it was 55 degrees and I was dreaming of getting ready for backyard living. 

Knowing that snow was coming I needed to refill my birdseed supply. I headed out to my favorite store, Back Yard Living in Ridgewood, NJ. Even though spring can play hide and seek here in northern New Jersey a girl can dream, right? The staff was busy unveiling all of the new products for spring and summer.

I asked Teri of BYLNJ for some tips for getting ready for spring and outdoor entertaining. She had great ideas. Read on for her suggestions on getting ready for entertaining outside and backyard living. 

Backyard Living: Furniture

  • Start by taking inventory of what you have and the current condition of your furniture and accessories.
  • Once you have taken inventory consider any additional items you would like to add such as a side table or coffee table. Perhaps you would like to create an additional space like an outdoor wine bar.
  • Next, Inspect your seating. Do you need to order replacement cushions,?  If you have sling-style furniture, do any of your slings need to be replaced?
  • Cleaning the furniture. Most cushion covers can be removed and washed. Umbrella canopies can also be washed. If you have teak furniture, you can clean teak with soap, water, and a soft brush (BYLNJ sells teak cleaners, but simple soap, water, and elbow grease work too).
  • Don’t forget the umbrella. Is it time for an upgrade? There are so many options from the standard center pole style to an oversized cantilever umbrella. Many umbrellas now come with LED lighting built right into the canopy. 

Backyard Living: Cooking

Big Green Egg prefect outdoor cooking just in time for Fathers Day

Big Green Egg grill and accessories.

We design many outdoor kitchens for clients. Grills, pizza ovens, and teppanyaki griddles are true luxuries. But if you are a down-home type looking for a simpler set up a classic grill, smoker or even a Big Green Egg may be just the thing!  Don’t forget Father’s Day in June.

Backyard Living: Entertaining

Goodbye Paper Plates

Lovely Melamine Serving Pieces

Lovely Melamine Serving Pieces

Being a good steward of our resources can extend to backyard entertaining as well. I know my husband never wanted to eat off paper plates or use disposable plastic glasses or cutlery. We invested in reusable dishware and glasses and have never looked back.

There is a vast assortment of high-quality melamine options in every color and pattern. The quality is amazing and can go right into the dishwasher instead of a landfill. The same thing goes for serving pieces as well as glasses. Unbreakable is important especially when shoes may be optional. 

Decorative Touches


Centerpieces, wicker chargers, and table runners are quick and easy decorating pieces to add to your backyard living table. Cloth napkins add color and cut down on paper waste.

Back Yard Living Well designed table for backyard living and entertaining.

Shatter proof table settings from Backyard Living Ridgewood NJ

Beyond your tableware, adding some decorative touches personalize your backyard’s living environment. Decorative pillows for your seating areas bring instant color and style. You can easily change these out as you move from spring to summer to fall.

Outdoor swivel chairs with decorative pillows for back yard entertaining in style

Decorative pillows add style to your outdoor furniture

If you don’t have a green thumb but love accessorizing with plants and flowers, consider some “faux-bulous” alternatives. Nothing says spring like bright golden yellow forsythia sprigs. Combine an oversized container with stems of forsythia or cherry blossoms for instant color and happiness,

Backyard Living Florals perfect if you don't have a green thumb

Faux Florals are perfect for those without a green thumb

Seasonal decorations will perk up any back yard living area.

These colorful themed pillows add instant color and conversation to any outdoor seating area. They are also the perfect hostess gift. 

Brightly colored pillow are a great pop of color or the perfect hostess gift

Colorful pillows

More Backyard Ideas from Teri:
  • Detract from a less than desirable area in your backyard by creating a gorgeous focal point using a large decorative container and colorful plantings. 
  • Create 2 or three conversational groupings – use unique pieces of furniture which compliment each other in color or shape. This will create a cohesive design. 
  • Use outdoor lighting to set the mood. Solar lanterns are the perfect solution for energy savings. There are a wide variety of sizes and styles to choose from.  
  • Adding durable outdoor pillows (mildew resistant) and outdoor rugs brings comfort and style to your backyard living environments. 
  • Have you considered a firepit?. There are so many options available. Firepits extend your backyard living seasons. Small tabletop versions are a great substitute for candles and provide more light. 
  • Take time to think about your last outdoor gathering.  Was there something missing that you wish you had had on hand? Make a list of those items so you will have them next time. 
  • Additionally, spend a few minutes thinking about the outdoor gatherings and backyard parties you’ll soon be hosting (Mother’s Day, Graduations, Father’s Day, July 4th, etc.) – will you need anything more than what’s already on the list you started? Get those items now for the best selection and stock. Don’t wait until a day or two before the party.

Many thanks to Teri and the staff at Backyard Living in Ridgewood NJ. You can visit their store in Ridgewood or click here to visit their website if you are interested in any of the items shown in this story. 

Looking for more inspiration for outdoor entertaining?  You can read my post on Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen here.

If you find these posts helpful, please feel free to copy the URL and share with your circle of friends or on social media. If you are considering a new project and would like to collaborate, please reach out to me, I’d love to discuss the possibilities with you. 


Sharon is the founder of Thyme and Place Design, headquartered in Wyckoff, New Jersey. She’s been practicing kitchen and bath design for the past 40 years and is a Past President of the American Society of Interior Designers – New Jersey chapter. 

Follow her on Instagram by clicking this link:

Her award-winning designs and editorial comments have been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Design Milk, Bergen NJ magazineKitchen & Bath Design News, Woman’s Day, Country Decorating, Design NJ, New Jersey Home Magazine, 201 Magazine, The Best of Bergen, Savvy Living, The Vue, The Record, The Star-Ledger,  and Aspire as well as several books.

Her blog “Tips from the Trade” appears in digital form on and She has also appeared on HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation and episodes of House Smarts with Lou Manfredini.  In 2022, she was a featured *Voices From The Industry* speaker at the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s international convention.




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Sharon sherman

My award-winning designs haven been featured in multiple magazines, industry publications and on television. That’s nice affirmation, to be sure.

But perhaps the greatest accolade I’ve received is the repeat engagements with so many clients, project after project, year after year.

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