(BPT) - From entertainment systems and fully functional kitchens to luxurious furnishings and decor, it's easy to drop a bundle on improving your outdoor living spaces. The choices seem to be unlimited. But no matter how much you love your deck or patio - and most Americans do - you probably don't have an unlimited budget for equipping your outdoor space.
Beyond tableware and seating, what are the best creature comforts to invest in? Which products and amenities will ultimately provide the most enjoyment and bang for the buck when it comes to outdoor upgrades? Narrowing the options to those with the greatest benefits and versatility is a smart approach. Here are some outdoor accessories that will prove to not only enhance your summer entertaining, but create pleasure throughout the year.
Electronics are an easy place to start. Tech-savvy or novice, most people have a smart device to stream or play downloaded music. Creating ambiance with music is a great touch for outdoor living and entertaining. Projecting the sound outdoors takes a powerful speaker system. Starting at $100, improved quality wireless speakers offer a simple way to pump out the tunes. Not only are these speakers lightweight and easy to use, they can be used for a myriad of events or functions outside the backyard realm. Wireless speakers are perfect to use in other parts of the home such as the garage and to take along on family outings such as picnics or camping trips.
On hot summer days, who doesn't enjoy a cool breeze? Air conditioning is impractical outdoors, so investing in a backyard cooling product could be a necessity as much as an amenity. Choose a powerful yet quiet portable evaporative cooler. Evaporative coolers are a better option than misters that drench or oscillating fans that simply blow hot air around. The coolers lower temperatures by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and are powerful enough to cool an entire deck.
Not only are they great in the backyard, these portable coolers are easily wheeled anywhere throughout the yard. They work great for spot-cooling in the garage or even on the go while camping or tailgating.
Outdoor lighting options have come a long way in recent years. Solar options have made lighting simple and versatile. Styles range from traditional lanterns and landscape stake options to more decorative variations. When upgrading your solar lighting, consider the light styles that will give you mileage beyond the summer. For example, solar string lights commonly used for sun umbrellas are an excellent choice for reusing in the fall around Halloween decorations, around trees and as part of holiday decor. Get even more creative by packing these lights for nighttime family excursions such as firework shows or at the community center's movie showing on the lawn.
Installing an outdoor kitchen is a significant investment, but it's useful all year long. Research the bells and whistles that enhance your cooking habits and family lifestyle. Consider adding a pizza oven, rotisserie, refrigerator and warming drawers. Once your dream kitchen is built, you'll want to maximize it. It sounds trite, but don't forget you have it. Keep the house smelling like a bed of roses during a Lobster boil or crawfish feast by preparing it outside. When it's time for dad to make his famous chili, it can simmer for hours on one of the outdoor burners. Get the kids involved in making their favorite grilled cheese, pizza or even dessert. The key is using this area for more than grilling burgers or hosting a couple of parties. Incorporate it into your daily life.
At the end of the day, buy what brings enjoyment. The added benefit is the versatility.