Whether you’re a true sports fan or just enjoy the social aspect of a good game, the best place to tailgate and watch your favorite teams duke it out can be your own backyard. The open aspect of an outdoor setting creates a more festive and roomy atmosphere than an indoor viewing space. Plus, there’s no true way to replicate that tailgate cooking experience in an indoor kitchen. Match the numbers on the image above with the design tips below to create the ideal backyard tailgating space.
1. Sights and Sounds Make the Game
Since the “big game” is the whole point to backyard tailgating, make sure that your TV can be viewed from various angles. Install it on a cantilever bracket instead of a flush wall mount. This will allow you to adjust the angle of the TV as needed. To create stadium-like acoustics, install an outdoor surround-sound system that incorporates landscape speakers. By placing multiple speakers throughout your patio and yard, you can keep the sound at a respectable level that will allow all your guest to hear the play-by-play without inconveniencing the neighbors. Consult an experienced audio visual professional who can run the needed wires BEFORE you install any hardscapes or decking. That way, the system can be linked with your interior sound and all managed from a smartphone app that will also allow for music.
2. Good Food Makes the Tailgate
Design your outdoor kitchen to provide ample prep space and multiple cooking surfaces. This will keep you from having to run back and forth from your indoor kitchen. If the grill is near the primary seating area, a vent is a smart addition — especially for charcoal or pellet grills. Menu items that work well for backyard tailgating are BBQ ribs, grilled pizza, and burger bars. Each of these recipes feed both small and large groups, and much of the prep can be done ahead of time. For more tips, check out these blog libraries:
3. Outdoor Beverage Refrigeration is Key
Let’s be honest, a nice adult beverage is all part of the tailgating experience. When you’re designing a backyard tailgating area, you would do well to double the beverage space typically needed for daily outdoor living. You may even want to consider a keg cooler or commercial roll-top beverage cooler, like the ones bars use. You’ll also need lots of ice. True is an excellent manufacturer of outdoor refrigeration. Their pricing can be on the higher side, but when everything is exposed to the elements, you definitely get what you pay for.
4. Bar-Top Seating is a Must
An L-shaped bar creates the best scenario for both tailgating and game viewing. The shape allows for more bar-top seating and puts everyone at an angle conducive to conversation — both with one another and with the host. It also allows for a scenario where some people can be seated and some can stand, but everyone still has an excellent view of the game.
5. Throw Some Shade
Although in some climates, you can get away with umbrellas or shade sails, a porch or a gable is more ideal. A true roof will not only protect your space and appliances from sunlight and rain, it provides a structure for placing speakers, lighting and fans — all of which add to both the comfort and the ambiance of your space.
6. Double the Dining Space
In addition to bar-top seating, additional dining tables allow for multiple conversation zones and provide seating for larger groups. Depending on the layout of your space, you might want to consider a second TV for the outdoor dining area.
7. Properly Light Your Outdoor Space
Outdoor lighting improves both functionality and ambiance once the sun goes down. Try to avoid direct overhead lighting, which could detract from the TV screen. Instead, opt for wall sconces, string lights, upward-facing lights, hardscape lighting and landscape lighting. When planning a new space, be sure to consider your entire lighting plan BEFORE you begin construction. This will allow you to run electrical lines under any hardscapes as needed, as well as plan for strategic placement of outlets for string lights.
8. Add an Intimate Conversation Area
It’s a great idea to include a relaxing sitting space somewhere in your floorplan. This creates a nice cozy spot for post-game debriefing, as well as a separate conversation zone for those who aren’t as into the “watching” aspect of the backyard tailgate experience.