• Design a welcoming seating arrangement: Think of your outdoor furniture as you would your indoor living room furniture, and arrange your chairs, sofas, and tables in a way that's conducive to conversation. Create a focal point and ensure that seating is no more than eight feet apart. Put a table within reach of each seat to allow for easy access to drinks.

• Create a focal point: If your exterior space doesn't have a natural focal point like a fireplace or stunning view, create one with a patio umbrella or a richly textured outdoor wall fountain.

• Use a ceiling fan: If your porch is covered, an outdoor ceiling fan can help beat the heat. It's not necessary but the extra level of climate control helps to create a comfortable space for your guests on hot and sticky summer nights.

• Set the mood after dark with candles: An array of outdoor lanterns creates an intimate atmosphere and encourages late-night conversation. Lighting is the key to setting a mood when entertaining.


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