In the not-so-distant past, most outdoor entertaining spaces comprised the same set of webbed folding chairs and a giant charcoal grill, and maybe a sun umbrella if you were lucky. But as we've all shifted toward making our backyards look and feel like dreamy vacation destinations, the style and functionality of our decor choices have elevated. Today, it's a given that exterior spaces should be as welcoming and thoughtfully designed as living rooms.

The latest decor options make that easy to execute, such as Cosentino's stunning Dekton Pietra Kode collection of durable surfaces. It's inspired by lush Italian villas (ideal templates for indoor-outdoor living, after all), chic all-weather furniture, and innovative tech, all wrapped up together to make your fresh-air hosting dreams come true.

For practical tips on transforming your underutilized outdoor space into an entertaining oasis, read on.

exterior of a home

Claim Your Space

You don't need to have a luxurious backyard to work with. Transforming any lawn or unused area in front of your home is an inviting way to add curb appeal, maximize your acreage, and mix up your entertaining options.

For instance, consider turning the approach of your home into a pathway-meets-lounge space. Paving a wider area with a timeless material like Dekton Ceppo Kode, and adding soft seating, shade umbrellas or awnings can open up this often-neglected front area, offering guests a warm welcome. To design a seamless look, use the same material for all the paving, benches, and tables—Dekton can even be used as wall cladding—for a space that looks as if it's been carved exactly where it stands.

In order to provide privacy and a further sense of intimacy, plant wild grasses or small trees (they can work double duty in screening the road or cars in the driveway). The final step? Invite your neighbors over for an aperitivo hour.

Set Some Boundaries

The most important aspect of a cohesive outdoor space is how it's delineated from the rest of your property. Use landscape edging to carve out your party spot—anything from paving stones to a pea-gravel border or a low iron fence. Then, treat the newly cordoned-off space as you would a room inside your home, in terms of furniture layout, decor, and lighting. You can also create living borders, by planting hedges or installing fences with climbing vines, like ivy or wisteria.

It's a good idea to make use of all-weather materials that can carry a look from inside to out, for visual cohesion and fuss-free transition. Matching surfaces in your interior and exterior entertaining spaces (bonus points if you marry them with sliding doors and wide entryways) is an elegant and intentional touch. Dekton Travertine Kode, for example, re-creates the classic look of natural travertine in a high-performance finish that's temperature-, scratch-, and fade-resistant, making it an ideal material with which to define both areas.

outdoor kitchen

Make It Full-Service

Where possible, installing a full-function outdoor kitchen is the ultimate entertaining win. An L-shaped or wraparound countertop in a neutral shade of Dekton Vicenza Kode provides a sleek look that can weather everything from rainstorms to food and wine spills without negative effects. Setting a beverage fridge, dish sink, and spacious grill directly on the countertop will make hosting plein-air dinner parties a snap.

If you're only budgeting for a more modest renovation, just adding a countertop or island with seating can still be transformational. Having a sturdy space for grill prep, family-style serving, or mixing drinks means you can enjoy your company while you're putting the finishing touches on dinner—and no one has to balance plates and glassware on their laps or tiny cocktail tables.

Invest in Creature Comforts

Blinding sun or a too-brisk fall breeze can ruin the best of outdoor-entertaining dreams. To prepare your home for all eventualities—install a firepit with handy kindling and fire starters on hand for cool evenings, and string or plant solar-powered lights around for dark, moonless nights.

Also worth consideration: Wire up discreet fans or water misters to cool things down on sweltering days, and look to the latest generation of mosquito-repelling devices and lanterns to ensure your dinner guests don't leave with itchy bites as souvenirs.

pool chairs

Grow Your Own

A kitchen garden (or potager, to use the French term) is small, consists of mostly edible plants, and is traditionally placed close to the house. This charming tradition is a great template to follow (or at least crib from) for your alfresco space.

Quick-growing potted herbs are relatively easy to acquire, maintain, and move around, making them a perfect choice for adding foliage and color. They also release earthy scents, adding a very European feel to cocktail hour on your patio—and of course, you can pick from them whenever a recipe calls for it. Plucking fresh rosemary seconds before including it in a signature cocktail is an expert hosting move your guests will never forget.