Now that the main part of our patio is complete, I’ve been looking at ways in which to make this area the perfect entertaining space. You may already know the husband and my father put in all the hard graft to make outdoor living a reality. They have just got to create the steps down to my studio then it will be finished. So, now it’s up to me to do what I think is the best bit!
For me, there’s nothing better than coming up with a whole host of garden patio ideas and sourcing my favourite products. However, money doesn’t grow on trees and I want to stick to a tight budget, which means I need to choose everything wisely with longevity and quality in mind. Then, I can create the ultimate relaxing retreat for the husband and I, friends and family to not only enjoy this summer but for years to come. So, if you’re replanning your outdoor space now that the weather is finally improving, and are working to a tight budget, follow my top tips on what to consider:
The garden furniture
I think choosing the right garden furniture is important. The thing is, you’ll want to buy something which will be super comfy, looks good and stands the test of time. In the first instance, it’s a good idea to decide what you’ll want to use your patio for. Are you a dinner party person who likes to serve good food and fine wine? Or you do prefer to invite friends round to cosy up on an outdoor sofa with a G&T and nibbles?
Dining set garden patio ideas
If you’re essentially looking for a dining set, I’ve pretty much got this covered! After all, this is how the husband and I tend to use our outdoor space. Whether it’s for lazy lunches in the sun (under a parasol) or an evening soiree with dinner, I’m sure you’ll agree you want to choose something which will ensure an enjoyable dining experience for everyone. After all, this space is going to be an extension of your home. I suggest you think about the table shape first. Do you prefer round, square or rectangular? Once you’ve made this choice, I’m sure this will help you to nail your needs.
I like the ‘refectory’ look when it comes to choosing the right table for entertaining. After all, this style is a firm favourite of mine indoors. And our outdoor eating space is now a larger platform, so this design could complement the overall look instantly. In fact, this is one of most common options when it comes to garden patio ideas. I think it’s probably because rectangular tables are practical, comfortable and work well in most dining settings. However, I want to see how our existing set, which is square and seats four, fares first to ensure we’ve got the room to take a larger dining table and chairs.
I really think there’s nothing nicer than al fresco dining with friends and family. I prefer to take the Mediterranean approach when it comes to dining so my garden patio ideas need to accommodate this. For me, there’s nothing nicer than grazing on food and chatting on a warm summer’s evening.
Sofa garden patios ideas
If you’re really planning on lounging around, a sofa could be perfect for you. These days, the outdoor choices are almost endless – from corner sofas to ‘standard’ three-piece linear models. Team it with a coffee table, some cushions and a rug and you’ll be home from home in an instant.
Don’t let your sofa dominate your space however, as it will make your space look too cluttered. Think about the seating materials so you can keep your set clean and low-maintenance should be key. If you’re looking for a modern style, I think clean, angular lines will be perfect. A corner or U-shaped design will also work well if you want family and friends to feel more included in your al fresco party.
Just as you would measure the space you have to accommodate a dining set, sofa and chairs in your home, the same goes for your patio area. Think about how you plan to use this space – do you want enough room to move comfortably behind chairs to serve food and drinks? In this case, how many people are you expecting to seat at any given time? Or do you prefer the drinks and nibbles route so will you need a sizeable coffee table to accompany your cosy sofa? Whatever your choice, make sure you choose something which will add to your space, not overcrowd it.
Factor in the weather
The patio is literally another room outside your home and it’s important to choose your furniture wisely. However, don’t forget to take the good old British weather into account. We all know how unpredictable this can be! I think it’s important to consider a cover, which you can pop on when you’re not using your furniture to keep it in top condition. A dining set can be even more practical as you could simply pack it away in your shed for winter, especially if you choose stackable chairs.
I think one of the best ways in which to bring a sense of the indoors out has got to be with a rug. This is one of my favourite garden patio ideas as it will truly define your outdoor living area. And, these days, there are a whole host of different patterned and plain versions to choose from. You’ll find many of them feature a weatherproof material called polypropylene.
Recently, I spoke to Nick Acaster, the managing director at Rugs Direct, who offers this expert advice: ” An outdoor rug is a great way to bring the indoors outside – adding cosiness to your garden or patio area. Like inside, a rug works to divide and create zones in your garden. An outdoor rug also pulls a decorating theme together is a stylish and smart way.
“Outdoor rugs are generally manufactured from weatherproof material such as polypropylene – a synthetic resin that’s affordable, durable and easy to clean. At Rugs Direct we recommend storing outdoor rugs inside when they are not being used for long periods of time. Rugs can be shaken clean to clear debris, brushed down or even hoovered, and in some cases sponged cleaned with a mixture of warm water and washing up liquid.”
Lighting garden patio ideas
I love entertaining on an evening so the lighting has got to be just right. However, when it comes to sitting out on a balmy summer’s evening, I want the this to be kept to a minimum. But at the same time our guests need to see what they are eating! So, I think solar-powered lighting and a selection of candles could be the perfect answer. This past year, I have introduced solar-powered spotlights, which I’ve placed strategically around the garden. When it gets dark, they light up a selection of our trees and shrubs. It looks really lovely and helps to provide a series of ambient lighting from our kitchen to the patio. You’ll see more in my previous blog post on the subject if you click here!
However, I’d love to add to the look with these absolute beauties from Sparkle Lighting you can see below. Solar lanterns are so en vogue right now, I love them. Look for models which are made from a paper-like finish called Tyvek, which is resistant to water, bacterial penetration and ageing. They will automatically turn on at dusk and go off at dawn. I’ve currently got my eye on these!
I spoke to Sparkle Lighting’s director Thalia Shaw recently about the benefits of this sort of lighting. She told me: “Solar-powered lanterns really help to dress up and give warmth to an outdoor living space. You need to look for something that’s going to bring impact and help to zone your alfresco dining area. After all, the garden is essentially a big open space. Lots of lanterns together create even more impact. I also think colour is so on trend to use in the garden this summer.”
Garden patio ideas with finishing touches
I do think side tables always come in handy when entertaining outdoors. And the more multifunctional they are, the better I think! Look for tables with removable trays, for example, as these will come in extra handy.
“An outdoor table is an ideal choice for the patio. It can be used to serve drinks when socialising or to create more of a decorative feature for pots, plants and other garden accessories. Play with layers to create depth and look to use items of different sizes in complementing colours for the perfect, cohesive outdoor scheme,” say Alex & Kris, founders and directors at Nöa & Nani.
Hoping to fire up a barbecue this summer? Then head on over to my Vegetarian BBQ ideas blog, where you’ll find a feast waiting for you!