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Entertaining in the outdoors

The sky’s the limit – almost literally – when it comes to outdoor entertainment options for Beaufort County residents with a homebody heart and the social skills that attract friends and family members to their properties for all kinds of occasions – or for no reason at all.

“There are so many options for outdoor living,” said Terri Smith, who is a buyer and retail interior design expert at Daughtridge Patio and Hearth Shop in Greenville. “When I’m telling you the comforts of indoors can be brought to the outdoors, I’m talking about everything from furniture to rugs that can be exposed to the elements. They’re easy to clean. The frames do not rust. What looks like wicker is made of resin, so you don’t have to worry about the wood splintering or fading. Everything holds up really well.”

Adrian Shedrick of Grimesland, who has worked for the Lowe’s franchise since 2017, said shoppers of all economic levels can get in on this trend. “If you have a vision of how you want your project to look and you get the right stuff, you can make a little paradise on your property,” he said as he pointed to outdoor heating and cooking options from old-school grills to propane-powered heaters that look for all the world like the coffee tables in most peoples’ living rooms.

Shedrick stressed the obvious: that folks with small porches or small budgets – perhaps both – should find something that “doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, like a decent fire pit. Something simple can get the job done in terms of heat and atmosphere.” Smith agreed, adding that peoples’ choices of outdoor entertaining areas should be a good, comfortable fit to both their lifestyle and environment.

According to Smith, fire pits are the elements that will bring a patio design vision to life because they create warmth and atmosphere, as well as fast and easy-access lighting in multiple sizes and shapes. “You can also move them if you want to change the furniture arrangement or enlarge your patio.”

And these fire pits have come a long way in the last few years, in function as well as placement. Smith said she has helped clients design outside entertainment areas with fire pits at boat docks and pool houses. “We’ve done marinas and restaurants. The options are unlimited because outdoor living is such a huge trend,” she said.

Smith added that outdoor kitchens have become a “huge” item for home owners with property large enough to accommodate them. “You’ve got to have food in there somewhere,” she said, “so this is a major element in your design. We’ve seen developments over the past five years that include grills equipped with WIFI. You can just hang out with your friends and your phone will tell you when the food is ready.” Add-ons also include rotisseries, warmer drawers, pizza ovens and griddles, all built into or around the grill – and refrigerators built into the serving island.

“It’s a huge market right now,” she said, “actually much more than fire pits and comfy furniture. You can customize your yard to be whatever you want to use it for.”