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What could be better than an outdoor kitchen for entertaining? Built in a square shape within stone walls, the kitchen is laid out much as its indoor twin -- with cooking on one wall adjacent to a bar-height counter.
Brick pavers and wrought-iron furnishings add a gracious note to this outdoor dining area. Lush plantings of evergreens, hosta, and pink flowers soften the perimeter.
Anyone fortunate enough to have a spacious outdoor porch can take a cue from this arrangement. Wicker furnishings are replete with charming detail, while thick cushions add luxurious comfort to the chaise and chairs. Side tables, hanging ferns, and container plantings complete the look.
Fencing and plants create "walls" and add a sense of privacy to this patio room. A pretty fountain (located behind the top chair) adds the sound of water to help screen out street noise.
Turn any bench into a handy banquette by outfitting it with comfy pillows and situating it next to a table and chairs. This curved bench is a beautiful way to highlight a round or oval table.
New weatherproof wicker seating teams with an easy-care natural sisal rug to bring style and comfort to an outdoor porch. An artisan-crafted metal screen and tall palms add to privacy and cut glare on sunny days.
A once-rickety porch was remodeled into a spacious 650-square-foot veranda that takes better advantage of sweeping shoreline views. Natural-toned wicker is softened with deep cushions covered in classic blue cotton ticking.
A grove of trees makes the perfect spot for a patio. This one is located just off the kitchen to encourage casual after-dinner conversation. A combination of teak and wicker seating is united by cushion color and tone.
The front door of this California bungalow was expanded to include a new deck. A small grouping of retro-look chairs invites the owners to bask in the sun and enjoy the view.
Originally a screen porch, the sunroom took shape when it was enclosed with glass. It was also updated with a pickled-plank floor and painted brick walls. Vintage pillows add a hint of color to the canvas-covered sofa.
Pots of colorful flowers and a candle chandelier give this porch the look of a garden-themed dining room. Anchoring the arrangement is a vintage green-and-white baker's table. New white metal chairs slide underneath, looking right at home.
On the porch of this 1930s cottage, a section of lattice has been framed and fitted with cup hooks to hold a variety of hats and accessories. New and vintage fabrics cover a daybed. However, they're not waterproof and need to be covered or removed during inclement weather.
Though only a narrow space, this patio gains importance from a stunning roof structure supported by graceful columns. The dining area here feels private and serene -- surrounded by greenery and water on nearly every side.
Both sitting and dining areas fit on this deck which also includes a hot tub in one corner. A narrow pergola helps define the boundaries of the deck, while border plantings bridge the gap between the grass and deck levels.
This fully operational kitchen was built inside an open-air gazebo. Solid walls on two sides protect the appliances from the elements; the remaining four sides of this hexagonal structure are open so that both cooks and guests can easily move throughout the space.
With the many new choices in outdoor fabrics and furniture, it's easier than ever to create inviting outdoor spaces. The billowy white fabric used here filters the sun and defines the terrace and its seating groups. When cold weather arrives, the draperies can come down and the furniture can go into storage.
Entending directly out from the house, this patio is visible from inside the house through large arched windows. Beautiful dining furniture is arranged in separate sitting and eating areas and surrounded by a pretty stone wall all around.
Consider enclosing a fireplace area with "walls" for a cozy feel. The trellis roof, vines, and columns serve to set off the fireplace area from the dining space in the foreground, thus creating outdoor rooms that accommodate several functions.
Here's a neutral patio built with plain materials. What makes it interesting? The change in textures of the lattice roofing, wagon wheel, and concrete balls give the eye plenty to see. In addition, pots of colorful flowers on the fireplace, on the table, and in the planting areas spark up the all-white look of the space.
To withstand the extremes of the elements, look for fabrics that resist stains, mildew, fading, and rot, that are water-repellent, and that can sustain freezing conditions. Well-known manufacturers are getting into the act.
Flexible furnishings serve many family functions. The round dining table, perfect for grown-up meals, easily doubles as an arts-and-crafts table during the day for visiting kids. The rattan sofa and chairs, all more than 50 years old but recently refinished, have oilcloth-covered cushions that look contemporary in vivid turquoise and are also easy to clean.
The unique features of this home make an interesting background for an outdoor sitting and dining space. Notice how the dining table has been centered in front of the arched French doors -- giving guests inside the home a lovely view of the patio.