Summer is here! The brighter evenings make you want to be outside for as long as possible in the warmth. Eating outdoors is also a plus, but only if you have lovely surroundings. As a student I had a yard and it made being outdoors pointless unless you visited a park. For my future home I'd love a huge garden that matched my interiors so I feel at ease. Having a personalised area both indoors and outdoors can reflect your personality, especially if you have space for that all important barbeque! Here are ten ways to make the most of your outdoor space?

1. Keeping it comfortable

It’s not true that outdoor furnishings have to be hard and impermeable. Of course, they can be if that’s what you need, but there’s are also so many gorgeous outdoor products that are both weather proof and comfortable. There's nothing worse than going out to enjoy the sun and sitting on a hard seat. The more inviting your outdoor space, the better. Especially if you’re going to use the area for entertaining and relaxing (or a get together!). Padded cushions, lounge seating, tons of pillows and alternative seating options will make the area perfect for spending long afternoons and late evening in your new favourite spot.

2. Envisaging the colours

Colour is a fundamental element of your patio and garden design. Be sure to choose a palette that makes sense and compliments your outdoor space. If you have a concrete jungle out back, try to incorporate a luscious green look to give a more natural vibe to your area. If you have a lot of plants already, consider the colour of your foliage and pick something that compliments them. Blue and white is a classic summer theme, and teaming it with some magenta border flowers is a sure fire hit. However, you’re never restricted or stuck with your scheme, you can change it in line with the seasons, if you so please. For me, sticking with neutral colours such as grey and white then adding a pop of colour (or two) makes the world of difference!

3. Plan, plan, plan

You can't get the perfect outdoor space without putting some thinking time into it. Your patio might be outside, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be functional as well as enjoyable. It’s ideal if you approach the area like you would any other living space. Having a plan is essential; treat it like an extension, or approach it how you would any other room. Plan a place to sit, to eat, to lounge and whatever else you have in mind for your garden area.

4. An extension to your living space

Yes it’s outdoors, but it doesn’t have to feel like it’s separate from everything inside. The perfect patio is just an extension of your internal space, adding to it’s ambiance and functionality. The patio can even be a visual compliment for your living room or kitchen area. Seeing your garden from indoors will make add to the quality of your home without the huge expense. For me, it will make me want to go outside even more. Adding bifold doors leading off from the adjoining room is an ideal way to make the space fluid and to create a truly perfect space for entertaining.

Bif-fold door out to in.jpg
Photo: Creative Doors Direct

5. Extra life

Adding plants and flowers are a beautiful way to accentuate your garden. They make the space feel more alive and add that fresh, natural pop of colour. If you’re still developing your green thumb, succulents and cacti are great beginner plants as they live off very little water and are pretty indestructible! They look adorable in white pots too! Potted fruit trees, blooming bushes, and flower-pots take more effort and patience, so only take them on if you can devote a little extra time and love to nurture their development. If you plan a set area for your flowers and plants to grow in if you don't have the time can make managing them a lot easier.

6. Look around you

It might not be as obvious as what’s around you, but what’s underfoot is also very important to the feel of your space. Traditional floorings are usually wooden decking, slate or concrete slabs and gravel. Wooden decking and slate is great for those who want to clean quick without the fuss but keeping your garden looking gorgeous. If you do want to add an extra touch of style to your floor, how about adding a rug. They’re great ways to bring colour and design to the area, and don’t require too much maintenance. Whacking them to get the dirt off and releasing any pent up frustration can be pretty satisfying, too! Just make sure to bring it in if it rains!

7. Look up

Just as what you see underfoot is important, what you’re visually greeted by when you look up
can make or break the ambience and overall feel of your precious space. Fairy lights are a sweet touch to gazebos or umbrellas as they twinkle when the sun comes down. Pergolas offer a great way to hang accessories and plants, or you could try some hanging flower pots around the doorways, and even some wind chimes.

8. Light it up

Of course you want to make the most of the daylight, but you may also desire to use the space during the later hours, too. We’re lucky to have long evening for a few of months of the year, but who wants to restrict evening use to just this time frame. You could incorporate floor lighting into your decking, have some freestanding lamps. or even some hanging bulbs. Outdoor candle holders add a personal touch too!

9. Add some shade

Pergolas had a brief mention before, as did hanging plants, both of which are also excellent ways of creating shade alongside their aesthetic beauty value. Purchasing, or making your own canopy or roof top tent is also a fantastic way to increase the shaded areas in your new space, both of which are removable and not as permanent a feature as the pergola. You can add bunting or lights to add to your design to match your colour palette. They’re also great for entertaining and making sure your guests have somewhere to take refuge under if the heavens do unexpectedly open at the most inconvenient of times.

10. Making a statement

It can seem like a pretty large project to take on, but you mustn't be dismayed and feel like it all has to be done at once. The basic patio can take shape pretty easily and quickly, however, you can take your time in developing and adding to it as time goes on. A great way to get your patio project off the ground is to choose a large statement piece and then build around it.  Pick something you won’t get bored of after a couple of months, or something that you can update, change and add to as and when necessary, allowing you freedom to be creative and to have a fluid, changeable outdoor space. Pick your base colours and add pops of colour in items like cushions so you can switch them up when you're bored. The item could be a sofa, or table and chairs, a pergola or other structure that focuses the attention and gets your creative ideas flowing.

Do you have the perfect outdoor space?

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