While most people are still reeling from winter’s deep freeze, there is solace is knowing that spring is approaching. With warm weather comes a renewed interesting in either reinvigorating or completely revamping outdoor spaces. Increasingly popular in home design and architecture is the melding together of the outdoors with areas for living and entertaining, including seating, kitchen and dining spaces. Below are five tips to help homeowners create an ideal outdoor space that can serve a variety of purposes, including as an entertaining area that’s also being stylish. Tip One: One of the most popular additions many homeowners are making to outdoor areas are kitchens. When designing an outdoor kitchen choose materials, including natural stone countertops, that are going to withstand the elements and also give the kitchen a finished sense of refinement. The use of high-quality materials in places like the countertops will elevate the space from just a grilling area to a full-scale kitchen. When designing an outdoor kitchen it’s important to consider the amenities that will best serve the needs of the people who live in a home and also the people who will be gathering for entertaining. Think about these details when selecting features and amenities like wine coolers, televisions and dishwashers. Tip Two: Determine the purpose of an outdoor space before beginning the design. If a homeowner’s goal is primarily to host casual outdoor meals then the table and surrounding seating will probably be the biggest focus. On the other hand, if the goal is to host cocktail-style parties or larger gatherings, the traffic flow as well as the furniture arrangements will become the focus during the design process. Tip Three: Try to unite the indoors and outdoors in the entertaining space. One of the most important tips for designing an outdoor entertaining space is to make it feel as if the inside of a home seamlessly flows to the outdoors, and then that outdoor space should also flow with the surrounding garden or lawn space. When choosing materials like kitchen countertops, furnishings and flooring, work to create a sense of cohesiveness and natural flow that moves from the inside to the outside. Tip Four: Lighting is important and it’s often forgotten in an outdoor space. The goal is to create lighting themes that are ambient for entertaining but are also functional if the space will be used for cooking and other tasks. Choose lighting that will be conducive to conversation and mingling and also lighting that will highlight certain details of an outdoor entertaining space like a particularly beautiful area of the garden or the patterns found in the stone of the outdoor kitchen countertops. Tip Five: Consider both comfort and convenience. One or both of these elements often becomes overlooked by homeowners whose sole focus is to create a beautiful outdoor entertaining space. Guests and homeowners alike should be comfortable, so think about details like walkways, fans and air circulation, how the wind flows and whether or not features like shade structures or full overhead coverings should be added. These are five of the top tips to consider when designing an outdoor entertaining space that will appeal to homeowners and guests alike. With spring just around the corner it’s time to start preparing those outdoor spaces and getting in the warm weather spirit.