Summer Entertaining Ideas from Our Asheville Artists

 Art for Outdoors

How to Use Handcrafted Art to Create Outdoor Spaces

The coming of the Fourth of July in the mountains heralds the height of grilling season and summer entertaining.

From fun-filled barbecues to rough and tumble backyard games to candlelit parties and dinners, your outdoor living spaces can be a hub for entertaining your family and friends.

So we scanned the internet and found these great tips on creating a comfortable outliving space.

“Try to create a living room for your outdoor space,” says Kate Anthony, owner of Kate & Company Design Studio and Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of California. People spend a lot of time on their indoor living room spaces, and she recommends extending the interior of your home out to your exterior.

So whether you have a tiny kitchen patio or a huge sprawling grass lawn, the experts recommend that you follow a few simple tips to turn the great outdoors found here in Western North Carolina into a wonderful place to eat, play and entertain.

Create Focal Points

Edward Varias, owner of E.V. Design and another Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of California, says a focal point brings everyone together.

“A focal point can be a signature piece of furniture or a tabletop decor item or any other  piece that will provide a visual “wow” factor.”

We recommend furniture pieces like one of Brian Monteleone’s “Artful Pallet” benches or a stunning tabletop piece such as the blown-glass water fountain by Jason Probstein.

“A rug can also serve as a focal point and help define a great place for guests to gather.”

We offer nature themed floorcloths such as those created by Lynnette Miller as a great alternative to a plain old rug!  Her floorcloths are a perfect way to transform an ordinary floor into a work of art and help bring the outdoors inside to a sheltered porch or patio.

Building Cozy Seating groups

“Define the space for the type of entertaining you need,” says Varias. Determine the size of your space, the number of people you will typically be entertaining and whether you will use the space for eating, drinking and socializing, or playing games.

In a larger space, you can mix dining, hanging out and garden spaces to provide your guests with more areas to enjoy.  For a small space, seating can placed around a small table or a simple coffee along with a couple of chairs.”

Brian Monteleone’s  “Water Meter Cover” tables are truly unique (and a limited number are available) and there the elegant little folding tables created by Artemus Autlay, a perfect companion to the  easy-to-store yet ridiculously comfortable Backpack Chairs by Blue Ridge Chairs.

For larger gathers, you can incorporate an outdoor sofa and chair groupings, along with a series of moveable side tables and folding “plank” chairs like the one below to fill out the space. Anthony adds that a circular furniture pattern allows everyone to see each other, which is great when playing cards.

Views & Vistas

“Select several vistas or view points for people to explore depending on the space; utilizing the space in several locations creates gathering areas, such as a garden to explore or seclusion for meditating,” says Varias.

Anthony encourages people to think about creating areas for games such as bean bag toss or horse-shoes and says that moveable seating like Blue Ridge Chairs or large woven smoke vine baskets like those from David Cook can help establish designated areas without fences or barriers.

In creating vistas, you can use a combination of natural and man made elements. This can include creating garden areas with rocks and fountains and adding little surprises such as metal statuettes (like those by Mike Cowan or garden lanterns from Edwin Knies) and seating for two, says Varias.

Landscaping with Yard Art

The first step in landscaping is cleaning up the space and trimming bushes, trees and overgrown plants to create a fresh palette. Plants can help add color, style and definition to your space, and Anthony says not all plants need to be in the ground. “You can create great little vignettes throughout the yard by using varying sizes of planters and yard art”.


Anthony recommends bold accessories for outdoor spaces. Your starting palette will be very neutral, with a lot of greens and browns… [that can be found in works of several of our ceramic artists such as Maud Boleman, and wood art from Artemus Autlav].

You can balance out the space by adding pops of color such a ceramic fruit by Jean Saake or tabletop glass pieces by Terri Sigler and  the apple and peach serving ware by ceramic artist Mary Mason.

And Melinda, the owner/manager of Mountain Made art gallery, says that food serving is another area to consider, ”

You won’t want serve your wonderful summer meals on the same boring everyday dishes you always use or *GOSH* paper plates. This is where the use of handcrafted wood and ceramic platters, cutting boards and trays keep everything nicely organized and looking spectacular.”

And don’t forget if you have just a tiny patio or door-step landing, we have some wonderful items by Blue Ridge Chair that will fit into almost any small – no matter how tiny.

The tips above can be adapted for spaces of varying sizes and can range from simple DIY to high-end customized projects.


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