With more and more of us choosing to entertain outdoors this year, we take a look at how to transform your garden from …erm…a garden.. into a fully functioning alfresco dining room.
With the British climate being as unreliable as it is, the first thing you need to think about is shelter. This can be as simple as a couple of large beach umbrellas or a temporary gazebo, or you could go for a more permanent option depending on your budget and the space you have available.
This garden igloo, above, is an alternative to a shed, greenhouse or gazebo. It’s well ventilated, with doors and windows that open, and is 100% weatherproof. It’s easy to assemble and can be ‘popped up’ anywhere, without needing a foundation. It costs £849 and is available from Cuckooland.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, then this wooden pergola (above), may fit the bill. Growing flowering climbing plants such as wisteria and jasmine up the posts will help to create a magical arbour. In the meantime, you might have to stick a temporary roof on (such as bamboo slats) to make it a bit more weatherproof! There’s plenty of room inside, and as it’s open on all four sides you’ll get maximum ventilation.
The next thing you’ll need is something to sit on! You’ll need an outdoor dining table of course, but have you also considered more relaxed seating such as outdoor sofas and armchairs? There are perfect for informal get togethers such as drinks or afternoon tea.
Made with a solid teak frame and a hand-woven faux rattan, this Capri sofa (above), £399 from Marks and Spencer, is neat and compact and won’t take up too much space.
An extendable table gives you more options, and this wooden oval teak table (above) by Charles Bentley extends up to a spacious 240cm long. It’s sustainably sourced and crafted from Indonesian hardwood, and costs £400 from Wilko.
Hmmm…did we mention the British weather thing? If you’d like your guests to enjoy their food and drink after the sun’s gone down, you’ll need to offer some form of warmth! This could be as simple a some nice woollen rugs for cold legs, or you could think about some form of heating.
This Lyneham firepit (above) provides outdoor cosiness with a contemporary touch. Firepits make a great focal point for a gathering and don’t take up too much room. This one costs £144 (was £180) and is available from Garden Trading.
The other option is a patio heater, such as this one (above), £69.99 by VonHaus. The advantage of a patio heater is that it’s portable and provides some light as well as instant heat – it does require a power point, though.
Finally, it’s down to the really fun bit – the accessories! To make your space into a really alfresco living area, add as many ‘indoor’ accessories as you can such as lights, candles and cushions. For lighting, think about what you need. If you have access to mains power, it gives you more flexibility. Otherwise, you’ll need lights that are either battery operated or work from solar panels. If you’re planning to leave them outdoors permanently, make sure you get lights that are suitable for exterior use.
This outdoor lighting mains-powered bulb string (above) measures 9.5m and is suitable for outdoor use. An extension is also available which allows you to connect up to five more sets if you wish. £49 for a single string, available from Ella James.
Finally, an outdoor storage box such as this one (above), £109.99 from VonHaus, is a great investment and means you can sweep all your cushions, rugs and table mats into it to save constantly bringing them in and out.
Main image shows the Garden Igloo 360 Dome with PVC Weatherproof Cover, available from Cuckooland.1