Lounging and dining outdoors is one of the pleasures of summer but it must be done in style, because a poor setting will dampen spirits faster than a sudden downpour.
A patio should be furnished as carefully as any indoor space and, ideally, mirror your interiors taste so that there’s a harmonious “flow” from house to garden.
Fortunately, it’s now easy to create an area which impresses, as there’s a huge variety of affordable good-looking quality furniture that competes well with the high-end designer ranges.
“Gardens are fast becoming an extension of the home with more and more people embracing a European lifestyle – eating and entertaining outside, even though the weather sometimes doesn’t co-operate with our al fresco aspirations,” says Sarah Quilliam, head of product design for conservatory blinds and awnings specialist, Hillarys.
“We’d all like a sophisticated, beautifully furnished area which seamlessly blends with our interior, and where we can enjoy an informal, laidback lifestyle with al fresco meals and spontaneous, impromptu gatherings on balmy evenings,” she adds.
“Advances in design and technology mean there are plenty of ranges in weather-proof materials, such as synthetic rattan, so that pieces can be left and require minimal maintenance.
“Awnings, lighting and sound systems, and state-of-the-art barbecues and stunning furniture – that wouldn’t look out of place indoors – are transforming our perception of garden spaces. These truly are now ‘outdoor rooms’ that speak volumes about our taste.”
Colour’s a given in interiors and is featuring strongly in patio collections.
Zingy shades can instantly brighten a small space and could be the answer if you lack bright, blooming borders or yearn for an exotic lift on dull days.
“People are putting personality into their patios by using colour and texture to express their own individual style,” says Karen Wichard, designer at Alexander Francis. “They want to create the atmosphere of a ‘vacation spot’ characterised by splashes of colour, particularly Mediterranean reds and oranges which add a spicy touch, reminiscent of sun-scorched days.”
In contrast, natural materials like wood and stone complement the colour palette of the great outdoors, rather than compete with it.
“Beautifully crafted wooden patio sets are a classic choice and will never date,” says Kate Watson, interior designer for furniture store, Fishpools.