A welcoming patio area makes a beautiful addition to any home. When properly furnished, your patio will be a great place for entertaining and enjoying family gatherings. If you live in a warmer area, your patio can be a fun living area all year long. Even in cooler climates, you can add special accessories, like outdoor fireplaces, that allow you to get the most out of the patio in cooler months. Your options are limited only by your imagination. Sites like Plow & Hearth or Orvis offer accessories that you might need for your patio, including both decorative and functional items.

Use Nice, Comfortable Furniture

While lawn chairs work well for sitting outside in shorter periods of time, good patio chairs are better. Some good options include wooden Adirondack-style chairs and wicker chairs. Sturdy plastic chairs can also be used, and many are designed to look like wooden or wicker chairs. Be sure to use good, machine-washable seat cushions. This will ensure that you and any guests always have a comfortable seat.

A large patio table or a few smaller tables make it easy to eat and drink outside. If you'll be dining outside frequently, consider buying the table and chairs as part of a matching set. You might want to opt for a picnic table with attached benches if you anticipate smaller gatherings with meals involved. A couple of park benches are also a nice addition to larger patio areas.

Be Creative with Your Decor

You'll want to consider adding a little color and personality to your patio. Consider painting any fencing that surrounds the area in a cheerful color. This will help your patio look more inviting, and also protect your fence from the weather. Creative homeowners might consider painting their concrete patio floor in a different color, or even adding a mosaic design. A few decorative accents, like crosses, clocks, sundials or hummingbird feeders can liven things up. These are especially good for patios in apartment or condominium complexes where remodeling options are few.

Make Your Patio More Useful for All Times of Year

It's easy to buy accessories that will help your patio stay useful for any time of year. Outdoor ceiling fans are available that can create better air circulation. Misting systems can be installed that help everyone stay cool in periods of extreme heat. A few well-placed citronella torches will keep bugs away without the use of poisonous chemicals and unattractive bug lights.

In cooler weather, there are a few options that will allow outdoor gatherings to be more comfortable. Consider investing in an outdoor fireplace. These free-standing fireplaces can easily burn wood, and will keep your patio area well-heated. Homeowners who have the right layout and proper space can also have a fireplace permanently installed. A permanent fireplace also helps the patio feel more like a living room or den.