Let's Go Alfresco
Summer is all about making the most of the great outdoors. So make hay while the sun shines and create a stylish outside entertaining space that’ll see you through the fun-filled days and balmy evenings ahead.
Is there anything better than being out in the garden on a sunny summer’s day? From admiring your borders with an early-morning cuppa to a glass of wine as the sun goes down in the evening, nothing can beat it. To take advantage of every last ray, make space for as many seating areas as possible so that you can catch the sun at different times of day – even a simple bench or tree stump will give you somewhere to perch for a few minutes.
If you have the space, an arbour or pergola to sit under makes a real centrepiece feature, with the added bonus that you can then add climbing and trailing plants like clematis, roses and jasmine to your planting palette.
I’ve recently met one of the owners of Kent-based, family-run company Denys & Fielding (www.denysandfielding.co.uk) who make and sell the kind of garden furniture, gifts and homewares that, as they aptly put it, ‘blur the boundaries between indoors and outside’. Every D&F product is either made, or hand-finished, in Kent and they are a member of Blue Patch, an organisation committed to promoting ethical, British-based brands.
Their gorgeous deck chairs take the traditional design and bring it bang up-to-date with pretty fabrics, and their table runners, napkins and cushions are equally lovely. They’re a local company worth knowing about if you’re throwing a summer party this year too, as they offer a deck chair loan service – a brilliant idea!
Trick of the light!
At the other end of the garden-seating spectrum is the ultra-modern Exo furniture from My Furniture. Made from tough, moulded polyethylene, it is capable of withstanding all weather conditions and has an internal LED light source with 16 pre-set colours that can be selected according to the mood you want to create after dark. The range, which includes two sizes of sphere, a cube that can be used as a stool or a table, a table lamp, and an ice bucket, has a dimming function, colour fade and colour flash settings. The lighting is rechargeable, will run up to 15 hours on a full charge and comes complete with a battery-powered remote control.
Chic & stylish
We also love the beautiful grey rattan cube dining set from the Sue Ryder online shop, all profits from which go to help provide the charity’s hospice and neurological care. The set comprises four dining chairs with matching grey, shower-resistant cushions and a height-adjustable table with a clear glass top. The set is comfortable and attractive enough to be used indoors in a conservatory or garden room too – making it really useful for the in-between times before the summer really gets going.
The simple Cosmopolitan Bistro Set from Alfresia has definitely been made with comfort in mind, but is still super-stylish. The slouched shape, soft-touch poly-weave finish and angled armrests all ensure maximum relaxation potential and each chair is slightly reclined too. Or, if you’re after the greatest flexibility, not to mention boutique hotel good looks, the Bönan modular sofa system from Skargaarden that can be assembled in many different combinations is worth a look.
Bönan is a sleepy fishing village on the Swedish coast, a couple of hours drive north of Stockholm, and the first piece in the sofa system was designed for the owners of a swanky new house there. The whole interchangeable system is now being snapped up by upmarket hotels but it’s ideal for domestic use too, especially as all the pieces can be left outside all year round without maintenance worries.
Protect your plot
And finally, a note of caution: garden theft is big business in the UK and it is estimated that some £4 billion of furniture, plants and, yes, even paving stones, are stolen each year. So if you’ve got anything valuable in the garden that you can’t lock away at night, protect it if you can – green-fingered thieves are becoming much more cunning and are now interested in anything from expensive barbecues to lawnmowers and sculpture.
The founder of the security products company Master Lock helped world-renowned escapologist Harry Houdini devise his acts in the 1920s, so they know a thing or two about locking things up securely… Their sturdy 1.8m-long Python adjustable locking cable can be coiled around all sorts of garden items. It works in a similar way to a bike lock, but is much stronger and can simply be looped around then attached to a nearby fence, shed or post.