Beyond the Barbecue: Your Guide to Better Outdoor Living

Summer is upon us and if you’re like other southeastern PA homeowners, you can’t wait to soak up the endless days outside with family and friends. But is your outdoor living space ready?

At Custom Craft, we go above and beyond the simple backyard barbecue spot by creating next-level outdoor entertainment spaces that can be used all year round. From expansive composite decks with entertaining space to outdoor dining and upper-level decks, we love to stay on top of the latest trends in outdoor living.

In fact, we recently sat down with Shawn Thome, a system designer from our audio/visual partner World Wide Stereo to get the inside scoop on how to turn up your outdoor entertainment levels this summer. Here’s what he recommends:

Outdoor TVs

There’s nothing quite like watching the big game outside with friends or enjoying a movie in the fresh air on a warm summer night. Outdoor TVs are a great way to have a permanent setup outside that’s safe from the elements and equipped with a screen that lets you see the picture clearly, even on sunny days.

All outdoor TVs have rubberized internal components that protect against moisture. However, there are differences when it comes to how bright you need your screen to be. Depending on where you plan to hang it, you can choose brightness levels that work in shade, partial sun, and full sun.

Is there an ideal place to mount outdoor TVs? Shawn says with preparation, anything is possible. Whether you’d like it above your outdoor fireplace, hanging from a beam, or attached to the siding, there are ways to hide wiring for a clean look. Of course, this is much easier to do during construction, and Shawn says it can save a lot of time and money to get your audio/visual crew involved right away when you start planning your new space. 

Amplified Audio

Whether you decide to include an outdoor TV or not, having a quality audio setup in your outdoor living space will elevate your gatherings from fine to fabulous. Anyone can bring out a Bluetooth speaker, but for a more immersive experience, Shawn suggests using multiple speakers around the entire deck, patio, or yard. This way, everyone can clearly hear the music or sound from the TV without needing to turn the volume up and upset the neighbors. Have a pool in your backyard? Consider a landscape system that has several satellite speakers so you can easily hear music and have a conversation at the same time.

If you don’t like the idea of bulky speakers all around your beautiful backyard, don’t worry. Shawn says there are multiple styles of speakers that blend right in — from planters that house real flowers, to stone-shaped lawn speakers and systems that mount to the ceiling. This way, the only thing your guests will notice is the amazing sound. 

Luxury Lighting

Besides a sweet sound system, Shawn says there’s no faster way to transform your backyard into a resort-style oasis than a thoughtfully executed lighting setup. Illuminating your garden, pool area, deck, or water features makes your space interesting and inviting, and allows you to enjoy it better at night.

To protect against the elements and conserve energy, outdoor lighting uses special wiring and is often put on a timer. This way, the lights will only be on when you need them (and you’ll never forget to turn them off).

Whether you’d like the dramatic aesthetics of a Disney theme park or the soft lighting of a quiet garden, the amount of lighting you bring in is completely up to you. Not quite sure how bold to go? World Wide Stereo will give you a trial setup so you can try before you buy. Just be careful — Shawn says once people see how amazing their illuminated yard looks, it’s very hard to go back!  

Patio & Sun Shades

The final elements Shawn recommends in your outdoor living space are patio shades. Shades can be customized to fit in your patio or deck to add privacy, keep bugs away, and filter in sunshine and breezes so you can enjoy the great things about being outside and keep out what’s not so great. Roller shades can go up and down (sometimes using a motor!) to quickly and easily adjust according to your needs.


Make your yard an extension of your home, with exciting updates that will guarantee you have an unforgettable summer. Contact us to get started! 

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