Transform your patio for those al fresco feasts
- Credit: PA
Style it right and that outdoor space becomes another ‘room’. Gabrielle Fagan shows how to make your garden patio the hottest place in your home (no matter the weather).
Summer will soon be here, which means it’s time to get your outdoor space ship-shape and fit for the season.
It’s key to make sure it suits you and your lifestyle. If al-fresco feasts are your passion, opt for a roomy table and comfortable chairs, so guests feel like lingering. If sitting and chilling’s more your vibe, a couple of sofas and a coffee table will probably suffice, while a deck as small as a postage stamp can probably only accommodate a compact table (perfect for cocktails and nibbles) and fold-up chairs.
There’s everything to play for outdoors right now, with a huge variety of furniture and accessories available. Make the most of sunny days with our edit of everything you need to be able to enjoy the great outdoors...
Create a colourful hotspot
Banish conventional white furniture for good and embrace the season’s passion for punchy colour.
“This season, we’re becoming decidedly braver in our outdoor furniture choices,” says Vicky Angell, outdoor living buyer at John Lewis. “Although woven and wooden textures continue to be very popular, we’re seeing an increasing demand for outdoor pieces that inject a ‘pop’ of vibrant colour into gardens.
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“Contemporary furniture designs are increasingly in demand, and this trend is personified by our cheerful Salsa collection - a playful outdoor furniture range in six different summer hues,” she adds.
Patio project: Avoid a matchy-matchy look and pick colourful individual pieces of furniture rather than a single set. Alternatively, jazz up old furniture by painting it in bright hues - maybe paint each chair a different colour - or opt for softer but fashionable ice-cream shades. A gaily printed umbrella, patterned cushions and a throw will complete the look.
Set a scene with seating
Your patio should be furnished in style, so that there’s a seamless transition from indoors to out.
“As the warmer months make a welcome return, we all remember the simple pleasures of spending time relaxing in the garden. With so many different looks to choose from, you can easily transform your outside space to become a stylish extension of your home,” says Marcus Eyles, buying director at Dobbies Garden Centres.
“Our Refined Coastal collection, inspired by breaking waves and endless skies, is a sophisticated but laid-back interpretation of the nautical trend. A restful palette of pale blues, warm whites, soft neutrals and breezy stripes, which complements sleek, timber furniture and seafarer accessories.
“Generally, there’s a move towards bold multicultural prints and exotic planting reflecting global influences in decor, but the demand for a palette of soft tones and natural materials never wanes.”
John Lewis’ Eden 4-Seater Garden Lounging Set (coffee table included), £1,399, would be a style asset on a patio or in a conservatory.
Patio project: Mix indoor and outdoor natural materials, so you blur the boundary between the indoors and the outdoors. A balanced combination of rattan, wood, metal, ceramics and glass will give a space a natural, collected feel and connect the interior with the exterior.
Conjure a serene sanctuary
With our time-poor, stress-filled ‘modern’ lifestyles, a special space furnished to our taste, where we instantly feel calm, is an essential - make that a patio area or a secluded corner of a garden.
“More than ever, we’re seeing our outdoor space as a true extension of our homes. With many people living in smaller homes than previous generations, every inch of additional space for entertaining and relaxing counts,” says Vicky Angell. “People are looking for statement pieces for their gardens - from a stunning seat to a pizza oven, or even a Tiki bar.
“Another major trend is accessorising outdoors,” she adds. “Just as we do in our sitting rooms or dining rooms, people are adding those essential details - outdoor rugs, cushions, throws, lanterns and line lights, to make their gardens more comfortable and homely.”
Patio project: Make a patio feel more like another room by adding a pergola or an awning. Lighting is key to zone an area and, even without actual outdoor lighting, can be achieved with lanterns and hurricane lamps. As a finishing touch, reflect your decor style with personal touches - outdoor canvasses hung on a painted fence, throws draped over chairs, and ‘ornaments’ like garden sculptures.