If you invest in the right essentials for your backyard it will be money well spent and years of joy during those summer months. Here are items I would include:
Invest in a few quality furniture pieces that you enough seating for those impromptu get-togethers with neighbors and friends. You want comfortable sofas and chairs. I would treat your space like a living room or family room and use the area footage appropriately. If you have a large space try a sectional! Its all about the cushions. You want to feel relaxed so you need soft upholstery. Thanks to new outdoor fabric options made from acrylic fibers that are fade resistant and waterproof, there are a ton of choices! You can change out pillows and reupholster cushions as often as like!
*TIP: buy an outdoor storage bin to hold your cushions so you do not need to find space in your home for them.
Gather pots and planters of different looks and heights (throw in a few colorful ones with weathered terra cotta for a unique look), and fill them with different plants and flowers. Do this in hard square corners, entry ways and along back walls. This will soften the area and create a sensual garden feel. I love how the designer used plants to soften the harsh look of the outdoor kitchen in the photo above.
Evenings are great times to enjoy your backyard. Through mood lighting you can create a soft glow that is relaxing. I'm talking about adding outdoor lanterns, candles, string lights and of course, a fire pit!
Try buying a bulk of lanterns in different sizes and placing them along pathways, on table tops, and within your seating area. The soft light will be calming and beautiful! Pier 1 has LED candles that are not only made for outdoors but has a remote that can control all of them!
Fire pits are fun to have, romantic to look at, and can give off a little heat. I like the idea of a self contained fire pit that has a lip around it to set food on. Its a fire pit and coffee table in one! Frontgate offers some nice options.
Water features produce a sense of relaxation like being on vacation. The sound is soothing. You can choose from hundreds of options! They can be large focal points or portable self contained fountains that are plugged into an outlet.
Best of luck with your backyard project. I had fun putting this post together! :)