Make the most of your outdoor living space this summer – whether it’s a balcony, porch or garden – ensure it is an extension of your home and as aesthetically pleasing like the rest of the house.
HOW TO MAXIMISE YOUR GARDEN
Benji Lewis, the interior designer behind Zoom That Room, offers easy tips that can transform a dull alfresco space into your very own enviable secret garden. Make these small adjustments, then sit back, relax and enjoy your little slice of the great outdoors long into the autumn.
1. ZONE YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE
Whatever size your garden space is, try and have different seat settings in your garden – soft seating and a dining area. Soft seating can be a deckchair or director’s chair with a bean bag to relax on. The dining area can be a collapsible table and two chairs for a small area or a longer table with chairs if you have a bigger space.
2. LIGHT YOUR TABLE
Overhead fairy lights are a wonderful way to decorate outside, they can be placed over the table or suspended from a nearby tree – always keep an extension lead to hand unless you have allowed for outdoor power points. Tea lights on the table create a delightful, gentle localised glow whilst the addition of lanterns or up lights on the building cast a fabulous wash of light in any setting. Layered ambience lighting is important.
For more ways to maximise your garden; see:Small garden ideas – maximise a compact gardening space
3. DRESS YOUR DINING SPACE
Plants add colour and vibrancy to your table, potted geraniums or lavender are perfect for that rustic setting in the English countryside. Squeeze the leaves lightly on either of these and you instantly bring the added element of scent interest to your table. For a formal setting why not use three matched, mirror cube pots evenly spaced down a rectangular table, I’d recommend succulents that can have a more contained leaf formation, these extra touches really brighten up your outdoor table arrangement.
4. LOOK FOR BEAUTIFUL LINEN TABLECLOTHS AND NAPKINS
If it’s an old marble topped table that you have then I would likely not dress it – the markings in the marble are so beautiful to look at, it’d be a shame to cover them up. To counter the feel of the marble, look for super-sized napkins in soft linen; I often use antique French hand towels as napkins because of their size. Cloths work well for an English countryside setting when it’s an informal dining occasion – I love a smooth white cloth for a formal dinner. Or for a more rustic feel I once dyed an antique French linen sheet indigo – this created a different but equally charming effect.
5. SET THE SCENE
There’s no greater way of letting guests know that they’re welcome in your home than ‘Setting a Scene’; take the time to set up a bar area in your garden with options for soft drinks as well as alcohol, guests will be so flattered that you’ve made the effort for them. This doesn’t mean recreating the bar at The Ritz in your back yard (though wouldn’t that be nice!) - a simple trestle table with a cloth on it is delightful. The point of taking the time to arrange a bar is that your friends see you have gone the extra mile. Try also to have options on the glasses that you propose serving drinks in – highballs for drinks requiring mixers for example and champagne flutes or coupes for fizz.