The Best Outdoor Accessories for Every Kind of Summer Shindig

From backyard campouts to intimate weddings, here’s everything you need to host the perfect warm-weather event.

As we head into a very welcome summer, we’re presenting our annual look at new home accessories for outdoor spaces. And this year, since it’s been a while since we’ve entertained, we’re focusing on accoutrements for outdoor events. Whether your outdoor space is a porch or a patio, a backyard or a fire escape, here are some ideas for hosting in style.

When It’s Time for an Impromptu Pool Party

Float the day away among buoyantly brilliant colors, owning-the-outré patterns, singular shapes, and, for good measure, unapologetically inflatable upholstery.

Seattle fashion stylist Kristin Myllenbeck couldn’t find an inflatable pool fit for an adult (or two), so she made her own in nontoxic, heavyweight vinyl. The 65-inch Mylle Pool is now offered in a variety of prints and colors, but we’re partial to the black-and-white gridded "Original." 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Playmate cooler, Igloo has reissued its seven-quart Little Playmate sidekick in nine throwback color combos. 

Italian designer Paola Lenti has said, "Color is my legacy." Her namesake company is known for seemingly endless color options and "touch me" fabrics created in-house. The handwoven outdoor version of the Shito Chair is no exception, and with so many textile and frame finishes to choose from, the piece you end up with may well be a one-off. 

Slowtide is a textile company created by three friends with Hawaiian and Californian roots. The trio’s 40-by-70-inch Sundown beach towel, made of sustainably sourced woven cotton jacquard, is big enough to burrito-wrap two people. 

Perfect your smash in style with the boldly graphic Feel Free Ping-Pong paddle from Round21. One of five designs in the limited-edition "Pieces" collection by Berlin-based visual artist Ju Schnee, the paddle is made of lightweight Japanese beech and has an ergonomic grip. 

Made with biodegradable TPU—a material sometimes referred to as the bridge between rubber and plastic—Mojow’s inflatable YOMI Sofa (electric pump included) comes in four translucent options plus opaque white and rests on a black metal or wood frame. 

It’s the ideal option for a barefoot environment: a shatterproof glass that looks like the real thing. Caspari’s acrylic On the Rocks Highball comes in six jewel-tone colors as well as crystal clear. 

Sonos is taking its household name outside with Roam, its smartest, most portable, most affordable speaker yet. Roam weighs less than a pound but delivers big sound and seamless playback over Wi-Fi and bluetooth. With voice control and a 10-hour charge, this small, waterproof package delivers a full pool day of easy listening. 

The outdoor Cape Collection from EQ3 features clean lines, lightweight aluminum (ideal for following the sun), and texteline fabric for comfort and easy cleaning. The 13.5-foot-long Cape Chaise reclines in five positions, always providing the perfect angle of repose. 

When You Cook a Casually Ambitious Dinner

To be just a little fancy but definitely not formal, plan your menu—and your guest list—carefully, and outfit your outdoor dining room with quietly quirky accessories.

Industrial inspiration meets smooth stoneware in Muuto’s Tub Jug, designed by Atelier BL119 in pale blue, dark green, and sand. 

Don’t relegate Baggu’s Reusable Cloth Set to laps alone; the organic cotton 20-inch squares in Madras Mix are too cute to be kept under the table. 

The Low Bowl by Fable New York is part of the company’s sustainable dishware line made from bamboo and non-GMO cornstarch. It’s available in sets of four, like the crepuscular "Palette" collection, shown here. 

Find the just-right-for-you hues among 17 options in Estelle’s Colored Wine Stemless glassware, handblown by Polish artisans in a heritage workshop. 

The spare BM1771 Table has Danish designer Børge Mogensen’s signature balance of form and function, updated by Carl Hansen & Søn. The 59-inch teak table folds flat to transition your patio from dinner to dancing. 

For 25 years, Ethnicraft has staked its reputation on solid wood, with designer Alain van Havre’s sturdy Bok Dining Chair at the center. This outdoor version of the iconic seat is crafted in sustainably sourced teak. 

Piet Boon bolsters the Dutch renown for problem-solving with the plug-in Disc infrared patio heater, created in collaboration with Heatsail for RH. The hybrid floor lamp/ heater has a 16-foot reach and emits 120 watts of dimmable light along with gentle, radiant heat—minus the typical toaster-oven glow. 

When camping took off in Japan in the ’90s, Snow Peak introduced a fold-and-carry, elevated fireplace that reduces the risk of scorching and wildfires. The latest iteration is the Takibi Fire & Grill, which pairs with the Jikaro Firering Table to enhance the conviviality of outdoor cooking over a flame. 

Tusk Candles are fun to burn: Ridges channel the rivulets of unscented beeswax and extend the burn time while calling to mind Japanese pleating. The candles’ designer, Victor Lefebvre, studied and practiced architecture in Japan before founding Oakland-based Umé Studio with fellow architect-designer Mei-Lan Tan.  

Feed the four-foot-tall Prism Chiminea kindling and it will reflect light and heat from its golden belly. Designed by Drew Seskunas for Prism Outdoor Furniture and handmade in Long Island City, Queens, this lightweight aluminum fire-sculpture comes in two colors: five-alarm red and soot black.

When a Backyard Campout Is the Final Frontier

Just a short hike from the house, you can explore the universe beyond—whether you actually sleep outside or not. 

It’s easy to adjust Meade’s lightweight StarPro 90mm f/7 Achro AZ Refractor Telescope and Tripod to kids’ height, and it comes with a smartphone adapter for sharing moon shots with friends.

Artist-designers György and Juliet Kepes were part of a cadre of European expats who brought Bauhaus ideas stateside in the 1930s. Their grandson Janos Stone continues the Kepeses’ investigations of open-ended play with Haus: the Modern Child’s Playhouse. The tent unfolds in 60 flat-packed seconds and invites interaction—from puppetry to painting—thanks to its washable, 100 percent recyclable plastic walls.

From camp lantern to hanging globe, standing lamp, or waterproof float light: The four configurations of the rechargeable NoBox Globe Lantern prove it’s a design with legs. 

Rumpl’s colorful Stash Mat in Rainbow Fade has a sturdy waterproof bottom and a cozy microsuede top that kids will love to sprawl out on. A generous 52 by 75 inches when open, it shrinks down to just 6 by 12 inches when packed in its attached carrying case. 

For the three-to-five set, The Pop-Up Guide: Space (Twirl Books, March 2021) encourages kids to look up. When they put the book down, one of the 3D scenes—from the interior of the ISS to our solar system—can be displayed using built-in elastic bands. 

Solo Stove’s popular, smoke-free fire pits were hard to come by in 2020’s frenzy for outdoor accessories. In 2021 expect a run on the new charcoal grill, which takes advantage of Solo’s secret sauce: convection. 

A Quick History of the Universe: From the Big Bang to Just Now (Sundog Books, April 2021) is a warp-speed ride through the last 13.8 billion years, investigating such questions as "What was the universe like when it was a few seconds old?" Peppered with cartoons, the book is aimed at kids 8 to 12. 

Enamelware is one of many fading traditions coming back with a campfire roar: These pieces by Bornn are handmade in Turkey, in a bright twist on the flecked classics. The mugs and trays are available in pink, yellow, blue, and green color fields. 

Up-and-coming American outdoor brand Topo Designs has committed to a "repair, don’t replace" philosophy, promising that well-loved gear can always be rehabbed at its Colorado headquarters. The nylon Light Pack is 10 by 17.5 by 5.5 inches and comes in five kid-friendly color-blocked options.   

Stay en garde against the sticky, the greasy, and the piping hot with Terrain’s 29.5-inch marshmallow roasting stick. Its classic shape and comfortable wooden handle ensure an even toast or roast. 

When It’s Almost Aperitivo O’Clock

Whether you’re having a midday daiquiri, an afternoon negroni, or a sunset spritz—with or without spirits— these hardworking objects can help you clock out.  

The Crystal Pearl Diver Glass and Deco Crystal Highball Glass, both from Viski, are the perfect way to show off exotic cocktails. Just add fruit, flowers, and kitsch to taste. 

Fermob’s Luxembourg Trolley Bar provides carte blanche for indoor/outdoor hosting with its removable tray top, smooth-rolling casters, and 24 UV-resistant color options. The aluminum cart is part of designer Frédéric Sofia’s 25-piece outdoor furniture collection based on the iconic Jardin du Luxembourg chairs, first produced by Fermob for the Paris parks department in 1923. 

The Lucca SC51 Portable Table Lamp by Space Copenhagen for &Tradition features satinized opal glass and a discrete dimmer, providing a paper-lantern-like glow for your patio in black, moss gray, or maroon powder-coated trim. A single charge by mini-USB lasts up to nine hours at the highest of three settings. 

Mayice Studio used Gandiablasco’s "fetish material," a lightweight aluminum mesh, to make a club chair and a versatile pouf/coffee table, expertly knotting in fabric to create cushioning. 

In Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2021), journalist Elva Ramirez answers the question: "What do the world’s best bartenders do when they can’t use booze?" 

Valerie Rice celebrates seasonal cooking and cocktails in Lush Life: Food & Drinks From the Garden (Turner Publishing, May 2021). Loquat Shrub Cocktails and Citrus Blossom Pisco Sours are among the featured potions.   

Not every oasis needs water: Serve your thirst-quenching cocktails from these saguaro-inspired pitchers by design studio Urge for Italian glassmaker Ichendorf Milano. The forms all have a capacity of about 40 ounces— ideal for cacti coolers or a rum punch. 

New this spring from MGBW is a five-foot cocktail table with a grounded presence. Made of powder-coated cast aluminum, the Sanibel table is lightweight and requires minimal maintenance. It’s also available in a four-foot version.  

When a Tiny Outdoor Wedding Is Just Right

If the wedding invites are at a minimum, the music is managed, and the catering is under control, why not invest in a few objects that you’ll want to keep forever?  

Tiipii’s Deluxe Sunbrella TiiPii Bed will be worth hanging on to after the wedding party’s over. Crafted of performance outdoor fabric that can withstand champagne or auspicious rain, the bed also makes a dreamy swing for the newlyweds and two best friends (or any four people). Hang it from a beam, a tree, or the optional stand in chrome or brushed bronze. 

Dial down the stress of live flora with paper flowers, like these Geranium Stems by Livia Cetti of The Green Vase. Beyond decoration, they can serve as charming wedding favors that will last at least until your paper anniversary. 

In collaboration with legendary light maker Artemide, Bjarke Ingels Group is growing the Gople family of capsule lights. Like the Murano glass shades of its forebears, the Gople Portable Table Lamp achieves a gradient glow in shatterproof plastic with a run time of up to 32 hours on the lowest of three settings. 

Designed by Mark Warren, cofounder of North Carolina–based Haand, Skali Coupe tableware has a slightly off-kilter shape that shows the human touch behind the porcelain. The five-piece dinner setting comes in four glaze options that pair well with the whole Haand family for a tablescape that tilts retrofuturistic. 

Umbra’s Layla vases play together and stay together for a unique effect. The trio—a large vase in dusty purple, a medium vase in gray smoke, and a tall, clear flute—are available individually or as a stackable set that invites experimenting with flowers, candles, candy, and more.   

Made in Mexico for Design Within Reach, the Arc Lounge Chair by Gabriel Tan is a modern take on the hoop chair. Tan’s version is crafted entirely in durable steel and powder-coated in three color options: graphite blue, ghost white, and a sunrise yellow that nods to 1950s motels. 

Whether they’re used to frame the ceremony or create an outdoor room, the galvanized steel Paradiso dividers by ilMIO Design for iSiMAR offer indoor/ outdoor flexibility in 32 finishes as well as a range of Sunbrella and Bliss fabrics.  


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