Whether you have an idyllic country garden or a small, urban terrace, treat your outdoor space as an extension of your home and it will grow with your needs. From stylish furniture to dining alfresco, Angelina Villa-Clarke digs up the latest garden trends that have perennial appeal
Now that summer is upon us, thoughts turn to making the most of the long days and warm nights ahead. Whether you want a chic entertaining space or simply a place to chill out in the sun, a few tweaks and some clever purchases can quickly transform your garden into a hip, outdoor living space.
Bringing the indoors to the outdoors has been a budding theme for the past few years, with many styles of weatherproofed furniture and textiles available to translate into making the most of your garden’s cosy atmosphere.
Terraces are ideal areas to segue seamlessly into the home. One designer trick is to use the same flooring for both the indoors and outdoors – especially effective if you have bifold doors or retractable glass windows.
Stone & Ceramic Warehouse’s new porcelain deck tiles are wood-effect planks, which do away with the usual maintenance needed with real wood. The new Palma Collection porcelain tiles, meanwhile, emulate the beauty of natural stone, but without the costly upkeep of real stone, so they look good all year round and can be used in kitchens and on patios alike.
With comfortable rattan daybeds and intricate wrought iron tables and chairs, Cambridge-based Neptune has an inspiring collection of chic furniture. Think of your terrace as a second living room, and seek out mirrors, side tables and plenty of plants in oversized containers to create an enchanting feel.
Caroline Mann, outdoor furniture buyer at Wyevale Garden Centres, adds her advice: “As a nation, our outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and teaming your furniture sets with complementary finishing touches, such as rugs, cushions and fire pits, can bring it to life. Create colour and atmosphere without losing floor space by introducing trellis plants and hanging lights, and choose potted plants and lanterns to add texture without overcrowding. Mirrors are also a great way to draw light into dark corners, as they create the illusion of space. Equally, a folding bistro set can be easily adapted to different occasions on the terrace.”
Inspired by traditional English architectural features, Garden Requisites’ door canopies, arches, planters and window boxes also add a whimsical touch to garden spaces.
“Window boxes are the perfect way to increase a home’s kerb appeal,” says a spokesperson for the brand.
“Our wirework window boxes provide a vintage design for sash windows, while the ironwork window boxes are ideal for a town house or country cottage.
For something more Georgian in design, the crescent window box is the best solution for period properties.
Finally, the modern contemporary window box will suit any property with its clean, rectangular lines.”
Targeting smaller spaces, Sainsbury’s seasonal Stockholm collection emulates Scandi styling, with weatherproof floor and seating cushions, colourful tableware and solar lighting. The Global Monochrome collection, meanwhile, is inspired by travels to Africa, with tribal printed crockery and Naive-style designs.
Meanwhile, at Aria, a new outdoor furniture range includes bamboo and canvas deckchairs and vintage console tables. “Dining outdoors doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style or comfort,” says Morgan Meredith from Aria. “This summer we recommend neutral tones, rattan furniture and tables flooded with flowers.”
When it comes to summer meals with family and friends, who can refuse the delights of a barbecue? Better still, elevate your outdoor entertaining into something special by creating a ‘dining room’ area to eat in.
Christopher Ray, outdoor category manager at B&Q, shares his expert insight on how to perfectly ‘zone’ your outdoor space. He explains: “Zoning is an emerging trend that champions structure and allows you to carve out a space for everything, whether it’s an exciting play area for the kids, a barbecue-cum-dining station for the grown-ups or a chill-out zone for family and friends. Position your entertaining area within easy access of the barbecue or kitchen and create different levels in your garden as clever way of adding depth and an illusion of space. Plus, a raised decking area specifically for barbecue prep makes it easier to keep children away from the heat of the grill and the hustle and bustle of cooking. Finally, add ambience with statement outdoor lighting.”
Meanwhile, borrowing from the French penchant for long get-togethers outdoors, Dibor’s Gallic-inspired tableware is ideal for breakfasting on the patio or enjoying late night drinks.
“There’s no need to compromise on style with paper plates and plastic cutlery: the modern garden party is a stylish affair,” says Sarah Boardman, creative stylist at Dibor.
“Adorn your outdoor dining table with brightly coloured glassware, or decorate your patio area with rustic lanterns for a beautifully natural summer feel.”
To add a touch of luxury – LA style – factor in a firepit, chiminea or wood-burning stove (they are practical purchases, as well as on-trend additions to the garden).
Dimitri Pappas, director at My Furniture, which offers a range of firepits, says: “Once the sun sets, and the temperature drops, evenings can be enjoyed for longer with the warmth of a firepit. They offer the perfect place to gather with friends, or even for a quiet moment alone.”
For an upscale feel, pair an open fire with the crafted, customisable rattan and woven furniture from interior design service Juliettes Interiors. The new generation of artificial grass from Carpetright, meanwhile, means goodbye to weeding and mowing the lawn.
Finally, Vicky Angell, outdoor living buyer at John Lewis & Partners, says that a big trend for this summer is ‘bohemian style’. “The key to achieving this is to move away from ‘matchy matchy’ furniture and towards bold, individual pieces that bring you joy,” she says.
“Consider pairing a simple garden sofa or table with a bright statement chair in clashing colours. Build in layers of tactile accessories, with eye-catching prints and textures, and you can create an eclectic yet personalised space that you’ll love spending time in.”
Rebecca Malyon, head of design and product development at Neptune, gives her tips
Look out for metal garden furniture that’s been both galvanised and powder coated – great for all weathers.
Emulate aspects of your living room, like side tables, coffee tables and armchairs. Take cushions and blankets outside with you to make it feel like a genuine room.
To help your garden furniture live a long life, it’s always best to cover it in winter months or during spells of bad weather.
Hollie Brooks, co-founder of online shop Audenza, on dining outdoors
Throw an outdoor rug on the terrace in order to create a focal point and add some colour to hard landscaping.
Hang or place lanterns around your space to create atmosphere for summer evenings.
Colourful glassware is the perfect way to create an eye-catching and summery table display.
020 7704 62226
01162 986 393
Helmsley outdoor dining range, from £4, DiborB&Q
03330 143 098
0330 333 3444
0800 408 0660
John Lewis Cambridge
020 7870 7415
0800 092 1636
01793 427 300
0800 636 262
Stone & Ceramic Warehouse
020 8993 5545
Wyevale Garden Centres