Creating a back patio experience where people want to hang out can expand the size of your home to add another room. It doesn’t matter if you have an acre of space or a small yard just big enough for a handful of people. You can add several products that will make the space more functional and comfortable.
On a practical level, adding seating, lighting and music are all easy ways to enhance outdoor entertainment. One way to take these types of products to the next level is to inject them with some connectivity. For example, smart home lights can be programmed to work as desired through your phone. Likewise, a Wi-Fi speaker will have more flexibility than a Bluetooth one and will make your patio space more fun. As always, prices shown may fluctuate over time.
Govee Outdoor LED Strip Lights (32.8ft)
If you’re looking for mood or accent lighting outdoors, Govee Outdoor LED Strip Lights are a solid choice. I loved that it was over 30 feet in length, which meant it could cover a large area at an economical price. The strip lights are rated IP67 for water and dust (minus the actual power adapter), so they should be able to handle the natural elements all year round.
I put one of these strips along a back wall to add accent lighting. It helped define the exterior perimeter and added a touch of fun with an assortment of colorful patterns. In the Govee app, you can customize each section of the strip with brightness and color if you want that level of detail. There’s also a built-in microphone so the lights can react to sound in all sorts of creative ways.
Buy on Amazon for $69.99.
Coleman Living Collection Bench
The Coleman Living Collection Bench is a smart solution for people with limited space. This seat does not need to be left outside all year round and can be folded and stored away when not needed. It can also do double duty at home or when traveling and at children’s sporting events. When needed in the backyard, it can be a very spacious single seat or hold two people and be moved around as needed. Roast marshmallows? Pull out that bench seat for a cozy moment.
Buy from Coleman for $139.99.
Philips Hue Lucca wall light
Don’t worry if you just don’t have many options for running light strips or hanging bulbs in your garden. You can always replace your outdoor lighting with smart, connected lighting from Philips Hue that will bring unique colored lighting as well as all sorts of smart home controls. There are many styles available, but personally I like the Philips Hue Lucca wall light for its modern design and economical price. This light can tap into smart home platforms from Google, Apple or Amazon and allows for all sorts of automation.
Buy on Amazon for $59.49.
Sonos’ most powerful outdoor speaker, the Move, works over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In the yard, within range of your home wireless network, the speaker can work like other Sonos speakers and keep playing even if your phone leaves the area. The speaker also works with a direct Bluetooth connection to your mobile device if you want to take it on a trip or to the beach.
There are a ton of good Bluetooth speakers designed to be outdoors, but a speaker on Wi-Fi that won’t interrupt if you get a call or click on a video is much better for parties. and group meetings. This speaker is rated IP56 for water and dust. In addition, it has a battery capable of playing music for 11 hours. If you don’t need that level of volume, the Sonos Roam is also a good speaker for patio use.
Buy from Sonos for $399.
Nebula Mars II Pro
In-car movies are fun, but even better, the late-night backyard movie you don’t have to drive or drive home. The Nebula Mars II Pro Projector, a division of Anker, is a projector that can handle prime ministers on the patio. The projector provides a brightness level of 500 ANSI lumens so you can see the image at dusk, without waiting for dark lighting conditions.
The device has a battery life of three hours, allowing it to power an entire movie without needing to be installed near a wall outlet. It also has Wi-Fi, HDMI and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as built-in Android 7.1 to run streaming apps directly from the projector itself. Although the Mars II Pro only had a 720p output resolution, it was enough for movie night or watching a baseball game outdoors at 100 inches.
Buy from Nebula for $549.99.
Outdoor brown wicker outdoor sofa with armless chairs
I discovered patio furniture from Outer this year and couldn’t be happier with its style, materials and technology. The company makes chairs and sofas that can be mixed and matched to provide seating for as many people as you want. And, whether you prefer a wicker or metal look, the design is very elegant.
One feature that I found clever were the cushion covers which the company calls OuterShell. Each seat has a cover that rolls up behind it and can then be attached at any time. The cover also includes a handle for easy movement of the cushions.
Of course, the fabric used by the company does not fade and is water and stain resistant. It’s also machine washable if you need to give it a good cleaning at some point.
The Outdoor Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs is a high-end offering, but it’s impressive. It comes with free shipping and a 14 day money back guarantee. Plus, there’s a 5-year warranty on the wicker and cushions and a 10-year warranty on the legs and frame.
Buy from Outer for $6,950.
Asteroutdoor shade sail (10 x 10 x 10)
If you don’t have the space or money for a patio structure, or even a large umbrella, the Asteroutdoor Shade Sail is a great option for adding coverage from the harsh sun. This particular shade is a triangle measuring 10 feet on each side and comes with 5 feet of rope to tie at each corner.
There are several sizes, shapes, and colors available, but the key is its fabric, which the company claims is designed to block 95% of ultraviolet rays. This particular shade sail has over 15,000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating at the time of writing.
Buy on Amazon from $22.99.
Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0
A fire or heat source is a good way to keep people interested in staying outdoors after the sun goes down. The Solo Stove Bonefire 2.0 is a perfect option that doesn’t need an outlet or fancy equipment, just firewood. The Bonefire 2.0 is still a smokeless fire option, but the company has added a removable ashtray in the new version to make cleaning easier.
There are several sizes of fire pits available from Solo Stove, but this Medium Bonfire 2.0 is large enough for a group of people in the backyard, yet portable enough to take to a tailgate party. It even comes with a carrying case. (While the Bonfire 2.0 sells for around $400, it regularly goes on sale for upwards of $250.)
Buy from Solo Stove for $399.99.
Grand Patio Outdoor Wicker Solar Post Light
Another idea for ambient patio lighting, while adding a touch of style, is to add one or more of these Grand Patio floor lamps. Floor lamps are available in several different wicker patterns and two different heights to suit most outdoor settings. The lights are solar powered, so they don’t need to be plugged in. And they can be set to turn on automatically at dusk after collecting energy from the sun each day.
Buy on Amazon from $69.99.
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