Bring the inside out and make your garden an extension of your home with these on-trend finishing touches
Light it up
Festoon lights strung from wall to wall give this courtyard an on-trend festival feel. Festoon outdoor line lights clear, £60; Brighton bistro outdoor table and chair set, £79; pineapple cocktail shaker, £25, all John Lewis
While away the long summer evenings al fresco by dressing your garden with suitable lighting that allows you to keep enjoying the space long after the sun sets. Start with the outdoor dining or seating areas, as these are likely to be the most used and require adequate lighting that’s integrated into the design. Wall lights affixed to the exterior of your property offer a permanent solution that generally provide strong illumination and will stand the test of time.
A grouping of lanterns will make a pretty display when the sun goes down. Harting set (three-seater rattan sofa, coffee table, two armchairs), £2,250, Garden Trading
For a more decorative solution, consider hanging outdoor fairy or festoon lights above or along the edges of a decked area to provide a pretty backdrop for evening activities. Look for extendable designs that can be secured together to make longer strands if you have a large area to cover and always make sure they are suitable for outdoor use. Add atmospheric lighting by positioning lanterns around the garden too—many varieties are solar-powered or can be filled with an outdoor candle—these look pretty when grouped together as a display on a low coffee table, for example, or along the edges of a patio area.
Make your outside space feel like an extension of your house by dressing it with soft furnishings that are homely and inviting. Add outdoor cushions to a dining or seating area to make furniture more comfortable and use them to add splashes of colour and pattern. Large outdoor pouffes or floor cushions provide fun informal seating on the lawn and will be loved by the whole family.
A large rug provides a soft touch underfoot when pottering outdoors barefoot. Indoor/outdoor rug in platinum, from £48, Dash and Albert
Lay an outdoor rug on your decking or patio to add a focal point and link the outdoor space to the inside of your home. Check out brands such as Dash and Albert and Weaver Green (who make all their products from recycled plastic bottles) for specialist outdoor textiles that can withstand the elements with minimal care. Synthetic rugs are normally light-weight and can be easily rolled up to store away during the winter months, too.
Bright, tropical prints make this outdoor dining setting a feast for the eyes. Les Jardins de la Comtesse exotic flowers melamine bowls, £14 for two; tropical birds melamine dinner plates, £22 for two, both Amara
Embrace outdoor dining with pieces that are both practical for outside use and don’t compromise on style. Melamine or bamboo crockery is a great alternative to ceramic as it won’t smash if dropped on a hard floor and will defend against scratches and chips more easily. Acrylic tumblers, jugs and wine glasses are well-suited to garden dining—brands such as Rice DK and John Lewis offer a fantastic selection that looks just as good as regular glassware. Keep guests cool by investing in a drinks dispenser that can be filled with ice, fruit, and water and position it in the shade—no more traipsing indoors for a drink top up.
A statement parasol will act as a striking focal point in any garden. Pathein garden umbrella, £250, Kalinko
Create the illusion of space in small gardens by cleverly positioning an outdoor mirror to reflect a pretty corner. Pick an area with plenty of greenery to make the most of plants and shrubbery or run a large mirrored panel along the back wall of a courtyard to help the space feel less enclosed.
Enjoy your outdoor space long into the evenings with a warming firepit feature. Raw steel firepit, £375, Cox & Cox
A firepit or outdoor heater is another feature that offers both functionality and style. Use this as the centre point of a casual seating area, with low-slung loungers or sofas gathered around to create a welcoming and sociable outdoor space. If you don’t have the budget to buy one off the high street, have a go at making your own using bricks as a surround—just make sure it’s positioned well away from any buildings or plants.