I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing my backyard for summer. The deck furniture has been scrubbed down and arranged, the planters and flower boxes are filled and the grill has been cleaned. It’s time for some fun.

As noted in previous columns, I plan to entertain more on the deck this summer, rather than visit crowded streetside patios and car-heavy cafés. Creating a comfortable environment using flexible furniture for a variety of summer soirees will allow this host with the most to give the best to the guest. Please, bring ice.

Comforts of home

No one likes the splintery feel of decking underfoot or rigid furniture. Guests will undoubtedly enjoy themselves more, and linger, in a cushy setting. My home’s interior has always informed the way I design the outdoors. Good lighting is key. Soft LED candles, or portable cordless mini lamps, create a beautiful ambience as night falls. Likewise, plump floral pillows for lazing on a chaise lounge is divine. (Ensure the fabric and filling are outdoor-rated to withstand the odd rainstorm.)

Bring softness underfoot with outdoor area rugs, which also easily demarcates a furniture vignette. Oversized leafy prints are everywhere this spring on wallpaper and drapery, which is why I’m jonesing for the affordable Palm Print Outdoor Rug ($30, HomeSense ). The plush, washable rug is suitable in an indoor living room and a deck, and adds comfort and style. My garden greens may not be fully grown, but at least I have this leafy accent piece to evoke lush foliage.

Grill mate

One of the perks of an outdoor grill is keeping heat out of the kitchen on hot summer nights. I love to grill, but I’m often distracted with mixing drinks, chatting with guests and serving hors d’oeuvres. Although it would be nice to have a sous chef or assign a friend to the grill, keeping a close eye on what’s cooking is usually left up to me. I’ve become skilled at innocently fibbing when I’ve charred someone’s dinner. Hope you don’t mind it well done — it’s chicken, so better safe than sorry! Or, I love the charcoal finish on those grilled peaches, don’t you? (Busted!).

This summer, there are no excuses. I’m investing in a wireless meat thermometer that connects directly with my phone. The MEATER Plus Smart Meat Thermometer ($150, ) has two sensors — one to provide the temperature for the internal part of the meat and another to give you the outside reading. That means the chicken doesn’t blacken before the inside is cooked.

A guided cook system also walks you through the steps to sure your meat is cooked to perfection. And it connects from a phone or tablet over Bluetooth. As well, you can extend your wireless range using the Meater link Wi-Fi and the Meater cloud. Now that’s a dedicated sous chef for the grill. Bonus: the culinary tech-support tool can be used year-round, so you’ll be a pro when using your indoor oven, too.

Flex your furniture

Furnishing a deck for entertaining is simple: add a sectional for soft seating, a dining table and chairs and you’re set. I like to incorporate other pieces, too, including small folding tables to scatter on the deck and a bar cart. The latter can hold bottles, ice and glassware. Or create an instant spa day on the patio by filling it with towels, sun lotion, sun hats and flip-flops.

A bar-height tabletop is perfect for serving buffet-style foods, providing additional seating and, if you stand a bartender behind it, it becomes the most popular place on the patio: the bar! I’m in love with the INSTYLE OUTDOOR Sequoia Wicker Bar Set ($600,

The resin wicker bar-height table and two cushioned stools withstand outdoor elements and the table’s slim shape is ideal if real estate’s tight on the terrace. I love the idea of having it as a console table for decorative pots filled with herbs throughout the summer. Simply clear the surface when you need to use it for serving or dining. So many uses, so many parties to throw.

Do you have a decor dilemma or want more decor inspiration? Follow Karl on Instagram at @Karl_ Lohnes.

2023-05-26T14:33:52Z dg43tfdfdgfd