Alfresco dining ideas for stylish summer entertaining

As more of us are embracing casual entertaining, stylish eat-in kitchens and alfresco terraces are being used in favour of formal dining rooms.

Make the most of midsummer with an outdoor area designed for enjoying long, lazy days in the garden.

See our decorating section for more inspiration

Top tips for planning your alfresco area

Think how you are going to use your outside space before diving in with a re-design or splashing out on expensive furniture. Is eating alfresco your main objective, or is it to create a sunny seating area that doubles up as a spot for sundowners? You can demarcate the chosen area in various ways: ‘Use paving or decking, which can be laid in opposing directions to zone different areas; says RHS Gold medal-winning garden designer Rosemary Coldstream. ‘Planters can form a screen to separate an area, or lighting can mark out spaces.’

See our garden shade – to make outdoor seating a pleasure to use in the summer

How can I make my garden look better?

Many of us now view our gardens as an extension of our kitchen and living rooms and are styling them accordingly. ‘Be bold by integrating interior and exterior colours and style; says RHS Chelsea Gold medal-winning garden designer Tony Woods of Garden Club London. ‘If you have a feature wall colour inside, run it outside and along the boundary. Or if you have a very light interior, continue it outside: Then choose furnishings to fit the space. 

‘The key with styling an outdoor area is to look at the hard landscaping and work around it, building your theme from that starting point; advises Tasha Green of outdoor soft furnishing specialist Weaver Green.