One suggestion that always comes up when it comes to hosting a successful party--be it indoors or out--is to keep the party moving. If you've ever watched an episode of the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, Ina Garten always seems to do this: Cocktails and appetizers on the porch or kitchen, dinner and dessert in the dining room (or outside), and after-party drinks in the living room. So when it comes to arranging your outdoor space, perhaps instead of planning one large area to convene; why not try two small areas? This apartment in Tassin-la-Demi-Lune, France is a great example of making the most of an outdoor area. Check out a few more photos after the jump...
By keeping the palette to a simple black and white, this patio looks unified despite the two areas. If you've got a long balcony or patio, creating a cozy "den" area on one end doesn't have to be pricey: A wooden bench or two with plenty of outdoor throw cushions along the walls provides ample, comfortable seating. Butterfly chairs are an easy way to give any patio a modern look without blowing the bank: vintage ones are often available on Craigslist or eBay; or you can get the college dorm version for about $60.
Instead of getting one long table, pull together two to three smaller tables. This allows for flexibility if you're planning an intimate dinner party (two tables for the dining table and the third table can be pushed against the wall and used as a drinks area), or if you're hosting a large cocktail party (you can spread out the tables in the area for different appetizers).
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