Create the Perfect Outdoor Entertaining Space
When the weather's good, there's nothing like spending time outside to lift your mood. Whether you have a large garden or a small balcony, creating a little area for entertaining is a lovely way to enjoy your outdoor space throughout the day and into the long summer nights.
At the very least you'll need something to sit on. This could be a pair of deck chairs, a couple of sun-loungers or a set of garden furniture. If you have the room, a large outdoor sofa or futon piled high with colourful cushions makes an attractive feature. Or for a less formal feel, what about a hammock? If space is tight then fold-up chairs are an easy solution. A table is also handy, whether you choose a large dining table, a small round cast-iron one or even a low coffee table.
Using plants in your entertaining space is a charming way to not only blur the boundaries between inside and out, but to add interest and really make the most of the outdoors. Even on a balcony you could have flowers growing in tubs or up trellises. Choose plants that not only look good but that can be used in other ways. Herbs such as rosemary, sage and borage look spectacular and are useful in cooking. Or choose fragrant plants to add another dimension — lavender, scented stocks and roses all give off a wonderful perfume that will add to the ambience.
Lighting is essential if you want to use your entertaining space after dusk. Outdoor fairy lights with weatherproof switches look pretty festooned over trees or along a balcony. Solar-powered lamps come in a range of shapes and styles, from small portable ones that resemble rocks to contemporary lights on sticks that can be arranged in a flowerbed or border. Or for a really bohemian atmosphere, use candles in glass jam jars and hurricane lamps scattered around your entertaining space.
There are a multitude of other accessories you could add in to really make your area special. Add cushions, throws and umbrellas to provide texture and colour. A barbecue is a useful addition, as is a chiminea. They look fabulous, can be used for cooking and will also provide warmth — vital for those evenings when there's a chill in the air. Water features with weatherproof switches would add a delightful background noise if you have the room.
No matter what the size of your outdoor space is, you too can create a delightful sanctuary for you and your friends to enjoy.
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by Gary Hunter