They say that the best parties always end up in the kitchen. That might be true during the cold, dark months of winter, but when the weather is warm and the days are long, there’s nothing better than gathering with friends and family in the open air. With plenty of sunshine still in the forecast, here are five projects to consider for your to-do list before your next big summer soiree.
1. Build a deck
Every year, roughly 2 million U.S. households add some kind of outdoor attachment to the home, and a deck is among the favorites. The cost to build a deck is $7,000 on average, according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, but you can complete the project for as little as $1,500 by choosing a simple design and inexpensive material, like pressure-treated lumber.
Just don’t cut corners on the construction, since a poorly built deck is a serious safety hazard, especially if it will have to handle large crowds. Inadequate foundation support, for example, can lead to bending and bowing, or even a catastrophic collapse. Unless you’re an experienced DIYer, this project is best left to pros.
2. Put in a fire pit
Like moths to a flame, party guests won’t be able to resist a crackling backyard fire. If you want to go large, consider splurging on an in-ground fire pit built out of stone or brick. Many companies also offer prefab units that competent DIYers can install by themselves, saving on labor costs. Or you can start small with an aboveground fireplace, known as a chiminea; the simplest models sell for as little as $60, and are fire-ready right out of the box.
3. Install outdoor lighting
Exterior entertainment lighting will keep the party going long after the sun goes down — and keep your guests safe from dangerous trips and falls in the process. A simple set of string light can provide enough soft, subtle illumination for late-night mingling. You might have to pay an electrician $100 or so to install an exterior outlet, but beyond that the costs will be minimal.
4. Create a transitional space
As the line between indoors and outdoors continues to blur, so-called transitional spaces are a hot trend in home design. The effect is often achieved with the use of glass wall systems or retractable shades, which enable interior rooms — be it a kitchen, sunroom or dining area — to open onto the outdoors when the weather suits. Manufacturers are obliging with cooking appliances, cabinetry, furnishings and the like that are designed to withstand year-round conditions.
5. Screen the porch
Screen porches are the original transitional space. They’re still an excellent way to expand your home’s outdoor living area, especially if mosquitoes and other pests are an issue. The average cost to screen a porch is $2,000 to $2,800, according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. Another option is to provide full or partial coverage to a patio, at a cost of $1,400 to $1,900.