Camping can be incredibly rewarding when tents and sleeping-bags are set up in a stunning location beneath a sea of stars. However, there are a few downsides to a difficult trek up a mountain to the perfect clearing or a long drive on winding roads to the right campsite. Many of us — if not the majority — forget something either essential or greatly wanted when venturing far from home on camping trips. Whether that forgotten thing is a lantern for night hikes or a favorite food for breakfast the next day, something inevitably gets left behind. Furthermore, bugs abound, nights grow cold and all food must be elevated after dinner to protect it from bears and other wildlife. Though many of us enjoy “roughing it” for a few days in the wilderness, campsites and park passes can be expensive, carrying heavy packs can be exhausting and missing items cannot easily be replaced or replenished. Thankfully, a charming outdoor alternative exists — often at a lower financial, physical and stress-related cost than true camping. “Glamping” — an adorable portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping” — combines all the joy of sleeping under the stars with all the comforts of home — or even of luxury accommodations. Save money otherwise spent on an expensive hotel and time and energy otherwise spent on trekking to your campsite by glamping in your own backyard this summer. Gather around a fire pit with friends or family for s’mores and cocktails in the evening and wake up fresh for a champagne brunch in the morning. Follow below for five design and entertaining tips on how to glamp in your own backyard this summer.
Though camping has seemingly existed in the public consciousness as a challenging but enjoyable American pastime for many decades, it really only gained popularity in the late 19th century when the first campsites were established in the US. Jeff Adams offers a brief history of camping in his recent article for Reserve America. Adams writes that “every summer more than 42 million Americans turn to the wilderness seeking escape, however temporary, from the drudgery and stress of everyday life.”
Despite this long-term love affair with lounging under the stars, the first camp established in the US did not pop up until 1861 when Frederick Gunn founded Gunnery Camp in Washington, Connecticut. While the tent was created in the 1850s — fashioned after the tepees of Indigenous North Americans — the first Boy Scout Handbook instructing how to set up tents was not published until 1911. In the late 1950s, the first “fast-to-set-up freestanding tent” was introduced to market and the modern concept of camping was born.
“Glamping” — the elegant sister of rustic outdoor camping — was not introduced until the late aughts of the 21st century. The GlampingHub post “From camping to glamping: History and evolution” explains that searches for “glamping” did not appear in notable numbers until 2007, when interest spiked across the UK and Ireland. Between 2010 and 2013, backyard “glamping began to take off…[seeing] a major rise in popularity in the UK...and starting to make a name for itself in the US.” In 2016, the word “glamping” was “officially added to the dictionary.”
For those unfamiliar with this cheeky take on overnight stays in nature, we turn to Shelby Van Slooten in her article “#SquadGoals: The Finest Glamping Gear for Your Girls' Getaway” for Better Homes & Gardens. Van Slooten writes that “‘glamping’ is camping with the added bonus of glamour, because why should you have to sacrifice luxury to experience the great outdoors?” To recreate the sounds, smells and general atmosphere of the “great outdoors” in your home glamping adventures, Van Slooten suggests investing in a noise machine, a series of single-person tents and a mouth-watering menu of camp-inspired cocktails.
First in our list of DIY glamping ideas is creating a cozy space to read, sleep or lounge in your backyard camp site. In her post “Glamping 101: How to Go from Camping to Glamping” for the REI Co-Op blog, Ashley Brown defines the “true key to glamping [as] having a luxurious, comfy bed to retire to at the end of the day.” To create an outdoor bed that calls you in from the fire pit, Brown suggests starting “with a comfy base like an elevated cot or a massively plush mattress.” On top of the base, add bedding like “an insulating layer, some soft sheets, a comforter and lots of pillows” to ensure a sound night’s sleep. Brown recommends completing your outdoor bedroom with “side tables, a rug, slippers and your favorite reading material.”
However — warns Brown — glampers should keep in mind that after creating such a luxe, cozy space, “you might have a hard time getting out of your tent in the morning.” For daytime nappers, Brown advises adding a “campsite hammock” to your backyard furniture program. As for the rest of your yard, the article recommends glamorous campers “go big and plush with your seating” outside the tent or yurt to create a faux living room in which guests can gather. We love the Loloi Rugs Isle IE-02 Rectangular Teal / Grey Area Rug for cozy glamping decor.
Whether a pop-up tent suits your fancy or a canvas yurt fits better in your yard, adding one or the other will stoke the nostalgia everyone hopes for when they camp outside. In her article "7 Cozy Tents and Outdoor Shelters" for The Spruce, Deirdre Sullivan lists a few structures ideal for glamping. Sullivan suggests opting for an enormous, multi-person tent like the Outback Deluxe by Lotus Belle for enormous backyard getaways. She notes that the Outback Deluxe is “is also loaded with features that will help keep you cooler during the hot months including generous roof vents, an extra entrance, and zippable mesh windows and doors.”
However — given concerns regarding large gatherings during the COVID-10 pandemic, we suggest considering something a bit smaller — or with much better ventilation. A canopy tent is our favorite option for backyard camp sites — as it protects from the sun overhead while creating a cozy festival feel. We love the Fiberbuilt Umbrellas 10' Square Aluminum Classic Tent with Canopy & Curtains from Patio Living. Its traditional camp site aesthetic — an aluminum frame with a khaki-colored canopy — is perfect for any glamping event.
In her article “Glamping at home: tips for creating the ultimate backyard getaway” for Today, Julie Pennell notes that “overhead lights are an effortless way to add light to your glamping site.” She explains that even in the city or urban areas, string lights are perfect for recreating camp sites as “they mimic the magical twinkle of the stars above.” Though fire pits are ideal for camp site cookouts and roasting s’mores while glamping, lights can be used to fake a fire in areas where burning is not permitted. Pennell writes that “you can be creative by wrapping battery-powered lights around decorative logs or use battery-operated votive candles.”
In her recent article “How to Glamp Like a Designer” for Architectural Digest, design writer Hadley Keller interviewed Laurel & Wolf designer Kimberly Winthrop, who created a gorgeous outdoor suite in New York’s W Hotel. To ensure guests have enough space — and more than enough to do — during your glamping party, Winthrop and Keller suggest both defining your space and arranging for entertaining. To define your space, Winthrop suggests “‘setting apart a specific space to make the experience special [and feel like] you’ve entered someplace other than your yard.’”
When arranging furniture and decor for guests, Winthrop advises glampers establish “‘a comfortable seating area with lots of pillows [to] encourage conversation.’” If your backyard lacks adequate space for a sectional or sofa, Winthrop recommends opting for “hanging chairs or floor cushions,’” both of which “‘are versatile options that can be moved out of the way when not in use.’” We love the Sunset West Milano Quick Ship Wicker Hanging Swing Chair in Echo Ash and the Lane Venture Mimi By Celerie Kemble Raffia Aluminum Lounge Set from PatioLiving for outdoor entertaining.
To delight guests and create a lasting memory of a fun weekend stay-cation, consider adopting a theme for your glamp party. A few easy-to-follow themes include “cabin cookout,” “sand and stars celebration,” “bohemian getaway,” “tropical escape” and “sophisticated summer camp.” Each and every one of these themes can be achieved without opting for tacky decor or inelegant design elements.
For a tropical escape, we suggest filling the space with large, leafy plants and opting for bold, bright colors in dinnerware and other decor. For a bohemian theme, we suggest sticking with neutral colors and organic elements — like a jute area rug, pampas grass decor and teak furniture. We love the Bernhardt Exteriors Bali Lounge Set and the Cane Line Outdoor Cube Soft Rope Footstool from PatioLiving for bohemian glamp parties. For a “sand and stars celebration,” consider nautical notions like hanging sea-glass, rope ottomans and blue and white striped pillows. We love the Momeni Baja Navy Rectangular Area Rug and the Cane Line Outdoor Cube Soft Rope Footstool from PatioLiving for coastal themed parties.