With longer days and warmer nights on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about backyard dinners, barbecues and get-togethers. Whether entertaining, sipping your morning coffee or reading a good book, there’s no better place to enjoy summer than from the best room in the house—your backyard.

Let’s say you’ve got the basics down, like the grill and seating. Now it’s time to rethink how that area looks and feels in terms of style, comfort and ambiance. Inspired by this gorgeous Palo Alto home we just saw on CaliforniaMoves.com, here are three simple ways to spruce up your yard for summer.

1. Light Canopy

Carnival lights, globe lights, bulb lights, cafe lights…whatever you call them, nothing screams welcoming outdoor space like a well placed string of lights. How great and simple of an idea is this: Create an enchanting canopy made by stringing lights from the nearby tree to your home’s eaves. If you don’t have a conveniently placed tree, try a fence or put on your DIY gloves and create inexpensive-yet-sturdy support poles to do the trick. Get the full tutorial from Bright July here. And don’t think you need a huge yard to complete this look either. Brick and Mortar shows how to use globe lights in a small space to make a big impact (scroll down to the bottom of the post). With LED bulbs, battery-operated and solar-power lights in a large variety of shapes, colors and sizes, you can really personalize your outdoor space. Check out Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Target and Napa Style for some great outdoor string light options. Crate and Barrel even has a red, white and blue version for your 4th of July party.

2. Hanging Lanterns

Lanterns are another great way to liven up a backyard space for summer. You can line a pathway, strategically place them around a fireplace or seating area, or, as this lovely Palo Alto home did, hang them up with rope for a nautical feel. You can find great lanterns at Crate and Barrel, Pottery BarnPier One, and World Market or opt for a more creative DIY approach, like upcycling mason jars or tin cans. Bonus: Use citronella candles to also keep the bugs away.

3. Cozy Fire Pit

Add ambiance and warmth to your outdoor space with a cozy fire pit. This feature is one you can use year round. Plus, you can create any style or mood to match your home. Go for sleek and modern, ultra-luxe or natural stone. You can buy one pre-made, have it custom built, or if you’re feeling handy, build your own with a little help from DIYnetwork. And, as always, safety first. Before lighting your first fire, check out this HGTV article for some fire pit safety tips.

Feel inspired?

These are just three of our favorite ways to spruce up your yard for summer. Head over to Pinterest for more summer decor and outdoor space ideas. Hopefully you feel inspired to decorate (or re-decorate) your outdoor area.

What tips do you have for creating a comfortable, inviting outdoor space?