Quite the opposite, in fact—turning your backyard or rooftop into a super-gorgeous escape will make spending time outside that much dreamier this summer. (After all, everything’s better with fresh air and some all-natural vitamin D.)
Of course, before you start sending out the invites to your first vegan BBQ of summer, you’ve got to make sure your space is suitably cozy. But where to start? The first rule, says San Francisco-based interior designer Cecily Mendell, is not to overcomplicate things. In fact, she believes that there are only five items you need to turn any open-air patch into an ideal party venue—or solo sanctuary, for that matter. (Morning mermaid toast with the sun at your back? Talk about a mood booster.)
Scroll down for everything your outdoor space needs this summer, according to a top interior designer.
1. String lights
According to Mendell, if you’re going to buy one thing for outside, it should be these, since they make pretty much every nook a little more magical. “String lights are always a terrific, inexpensive starting point,” she says. Opt for old-school bulbs to give your patio an elevated bistro vibe—they’ll make even store-bought hummus and veggies feel fancy.
2. Fancy tray
This is another must-have that’ll give you a whole lot of stylistic bang for your (relatively minimal) buck. Slabs of marble, like the one above, are trending on Instagram, but Mendell’s favorite is from Japanese brand Fog Linen. “I’m completely smitten with everything they’re creating right now,” she says. Plus, carrying your smoothie and summer read outside on one of these will make the trip from your kitchen to yard feel way more transportive.
3. Portable BBQ
No outdoor kitchen? No problem—you can still rustle up a healthy dinner while hanging in the sun with (or without) friends. Use the BBQ to grill some greens, cook sweet potato chicken burgers, or roast s’mores. (Real talk: That sugar detox can wait until September.)
4. Outdoor rug
One way to instantly make your outdoor space feel downright livable is to throw down a vibrant rug. Look for one that’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, advises Mendell. “They’re washable and totally life-proof,” the designer says. “They’ll quickly anchor an outdoor [space] and, given their durability, last more than one season.” Plus, they’re a perfect gathering spot for anything that requires sitting on the floor—new moon ritual, perhaps?
5. Floor pillows
Plush, oversized pillows to lounge on are definitely worth the investment, according to Mendell—not least because you can also enjoy them in the house, once the days start getting shorter and temperatures drop. “They’re obviously amazing for outdoor entertaining, but are also a great indoor design element that’s cozy to lay on when watching TV or reading,” she says. (And can you imagine a comfier meditation cushion?)