Al fresco furniture and furnishings have evolved, so now there are no end of ways to bring the comfort and luxury of indoors to your outside space this summer. Interiors stylist and judge on BBC2’s The Great Interior Design Challenge Sophie Robinson shares her tips…
Gone are the days when garden furniture was limited to a table and chairs on the patio for an al fresco summer lunch and a scattering of sun loungers on the lawn to retreat to afterwards. These days, thanks to the imaginative and luxurious furniture and accessories now available for gardens, our outdoor spaces are being transformed into additional dining and living rooms, even kitchens and cinema rooms.
Once just the preserve of our indoor spaces, the likes of floor lamps, rugs and footstools, even coffee tables, sofas and chaise longues are now just as likely to be found on the lawn as in the living room. When it comes to meal times, a simple bistro table and chairs set just won’t cut it. Melamine plates for outdoor lunches and suppers have had a luxe makeover, while bespoke outdoor kitchen units, complete with sinks, fridges and grills, are becoming startlingly popular.
INVEST IN GOOD LIGHTING
‘Being outdoors after dark is really magical, so invest in good lighting so that when it gets dark you don’t feel like you have to retreat indoors. Outdoor fairy lights and lanterns are great, as are festoon-style lights that create a festival feel. I particularly love lamps that look like indoor floor and table lamps, but are weather-proof.’
IT’S ALL ABOUT COMFORT
‘Creating a successful outdoor living space is all about comfort, so we’re no longer having to perch on uncomfortable camping chairs or flimsy fold-away sun loungers. Invest in sturdy furniture like an outdoor sofa with comfortable seat pads and a matching footstool, where you can spend the whole evening chatting away with friends.’
KEEPING WARM CAN BE STYLISH
‘Keeping warm when the temperature drops is the key to being comfortable and creating that holiday feeling, and there are loads of fabulous fire pits food on, but to huddle around. They make a toast marshmallows on an open fire?’
APPLY INTERIOR DESIGN METHODS
‘If you’re trying to create a room outside, apply all the same rules as you would inside. Try to create a cohesive space with a theme or a colour story that links all the elements together, and think of a good layout to create zoned areas. Polypropylene indoor/outdoor rugs are great, as they demarcate the space and instantly make the garden feel more like a furnished outdoor space. Also consider creating a focal point, as you would in an indoor room.’
GO FOR THE UNEXPECTED
‘Taking the most luxurious items from indoors and placing them in an unexpected setting creates real impact and a sense of fun. A candelabra hung from the bow of a tree over your dining table can look beautiful. You can even buy elaborate garden mirrors that can be hung on walls or fencing to create that extra touch of luxury.’
Sophie Robinson is the face of Electrical Safety First’s ‘DIY Nation’ campaign which offers advice on DIY and garden safety.