Summer’s here (well some days any way) and revamping the patio’s a priority if you want to take full advantage of sunny days and sultry nights. There’s a superb choice of furniture and accessories which could transform even a drab, tiny space - with prices that won’t raise your temperature by turning the bank balance red.
Create some patio party razzmatazz with glow-in-the-dark furniture and vibrantly coloured gnomes, or be more demure with decorative wired pieces or classic rattan furniture. And for outdoor decor divas there’s the ultra-fashionable ‘outdoor room’ look with swinging cocoon seats, coffee tables and canopied loungers.
“Over the years we’ve seen a move away from functional, utilitarian garden furniture as customers demand a lot more from their outside space,” says Nicola Gidlow, outdoor living buyer for John Lewis.
“People want a recognisable style, rather than random pieces, and a space which is tailored to their lifestyle and matches their interior taste.
“Also, what’s emerging strongly this season is a trend for creating settings which conjure a holiday, exotic atmosphere that probably reflects a trend to ‘staycation’.”
Rob Fairhurst, managing director at Outdoor Chic, says patios are fast becoming the new ‘play areas’ for adults. “There’s a strong trend for kitchen/family rooms opening out on to a terrace or garden so the area’s highly visible from the home, and that means people require the setting to have the ‘wow’ factor and be a focal point.
“Let’s face it, secretly most people want to turn the neighbours green with envy with a sophisticated ‘outdoor’ room which is as comfortable as a lounge and enhances their property. If you’re wavering between wood and wire, or wrestling over rattan and wicker, make it simple by checking out perfect patio looks.”
Hit the deck
It’s hardly surprising that as an island nation we never tire of coastal style, and it’s sailed in again this season. “Natural wood furniture, crisp blue and white fabrics for cushions and tablecloths and smart navy parasols have a timeless appeal and conjure an easy informality which is just right for relaxing,” says Gidlow.
“No matter what the location, it’s easy to mimic that by-the-sea atmosphere with a few seaside accessories, from blue hurricane lamps, to stripey deckchairs and a barbecue bucket.”
Turn up the heat in the garden with exotic florals, spicy hues and light-up furniture that makes a patio an irresistible entertaining space in the evening. “Colour and technology are the big story for patios,” says Rob Fairhurst. “Furniture which incorporates lighting is fun but also highly effective at glamorising even modest patios and adding an extra dimension to the outdoors at night.”
Country garden cool
This is a quintessentially Irish look, redolent of soft green landscapes and the idyllic setting for lazy afternoon teas or sunset cocktails. “While classic squarer shapes will always remain popular, this season will see the re-emergence of the ‘timeless curve’,” says Heather McCann, creative director for specialist company Indian Ocean.
“Gentle lines provide a more sympathetic look for an outdoor space, especially in more traditional settings. If you want a different, but still suitable, interpretation, opt for a chic combination of white and wood, which is a key trend this summer.”
Blur the boundary between the indoors and outdoors with a space that’s furnished with as much care and attention as a lounge. Ensure it’s stylish by keeping a sharp eye on design as well as comfort. “Al fresco dining is one of the great pleasures of summer,” says George Clarke, design consultant for B&Q.
“An area of decking or paving with a pergola over the top will give a sense of enclosure and make it feel like an outdoor room. Zone areas by using structured plants in pots to give instant shape, character and interest.”