Whether it's done to expand the current living space or bring the indoors outside for a more functional outdoor living area, many people are using all-weather materials and certain design trends for their backyard. With outdoor decks, fully functional entertainment spaces and outdoor kitchens, they're spending more time in the backyard.

A Bright Light in the Darkness
While you might have landscaping lighting currently, outdoor spaces need to be lighted as if they were a room in your home. You're creating an intimate, cozy space to invite friends and family into a great room that's extended from the home. You won't place floor lamps outdoors, but you can use string lights and lanterns hung from trees for your outdoor living space. Highlighting an element of the outdoors should be the focus like hanging the string lights over a table for dining.

Advanced Protection for Your Connections
There are outdoor furniture pieces that can protect your equipment from the weather. You can purchase special cords that are made for outside use. For example, you could have a television bolted to the underside of the deck's roof. When it's not being used, it can swing back into a cupboard made especially for keeping it safe in all weather. You might also use unexpected backdrops for the entertaining. A large white board or a white part of the garage can be a canvas for movie night with a projector. The projector can be placed in a outdoor storage compartment when you're finished too.

Belly Up to the Bar Railing
One of the biggest problems with outdoor entertaining is having enough seats and table space for guests to enjoy food and drinks. Guests might be standing around chatting, which makes it difficult to find enough flat surfaces for drinks. There's a popular trend now called the cocktail railing. It's a flat surface that's wide enough for drinks and plates of food. You can get a deck board that matches the current deck material and add a drink railing to your current deck or have one built while you're designing the space.

Less Cleaning and More Partying
The type of decking that you choose will influence how often you have to do repairs and maintenance. Wood decks have to be washed down and stained every year depending on the weather. There are great alternatives to wood decks that are made with composite decking. The composite won't fade, splinter or mold. It doesn't require sanding or staining each year either. It's easy to wash it down with soap and water when it becomes dirty. It looks exactly like wood and has beautiful color choices.

When you're expanding into your outdoor space, it's important to plan and budget for the type of space that you want. Lighting, outdoor furniture and composite decking can turn your outdoor space into a beautiful entertaining area.