I hope my heaven looks like Martha Stewart’s backyard.

I don’t know about you, but lately my mailbox has been flooded with catalogs full of perfectly styled patio scenes, making me want to ditch all responsibility for the tunic and spritzer with friends on a warm summer night.

(West Elm)

Thumbs-up to the stylists, their magic works. I can’t wait to head to World Market (one of my favorite spots for patio decor) to add a few things to our outdoor scene… Is there anything more soul satisfying then a quaint little BBQ on a perfect 80° evening?

Even 5 years ago, it seemed daunting to get your hands on a stylish, contemporary patio table set. But wow, these days Pottery Barn, CB2, West Elm, World Market, and Target (to name a few), are brimming with great options (not to mention the accessories).

Even if you lack the ideal patio set, etc., a little accessory love goes a long way. Here are my favorite ways to create outdoor magic-

(Martha Stewart)

1. Clean the place up! I like to scrub down the table, chairs, and sweep the patio. Create a blank slate.

(Martha Stewart)

2. Lights. My #1! Anything that adds a warm glow = the magic factor. Paper lanterns, candle lanterns, string lights. I’ve even thrown white x-mas lights in our flower beds.

(Pottery Barn)

3. Music. A little gentle background music is a nice addition. Lately I’ve been hooked on the “chill” satellite radio stations.

(Martha Stewart)

(West Elm)

4. Finishing touches. A cute, colorful side table, a vase of flowers, a few patterned throw pillows, or a table runner to add some personality and color!

(BHG)

5. Really good food and drink. I’ve learned my lesson… just say no to high-maintenance hors d’oeuvres and go for simple crowd pleasers. Here are 2 of my favorites! BBQ Guava-Glazed Chicken & Williams-Sonoma Mango Margarita Mix (you can’t believe this comes from a bottle).

I hope you’re inspired to get out there and create your own idyllic scene. Cheers readers, summer is almost here!

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