Relaxing and entertaining outside is one of the summer’s pleasures.
Just saying ‘al fresco’ conjures images of informal gatherings and leisurely meals enjoyed outdoors, but it’s all about the setting.
A dull space furnished with wobbly, uncomfortable furniture won’t encourage family and guests to linger, so it’s important to create a special ‘outdoor room’ where you can socialise and eat in style.
A home by the shore may be out of reach but a crisp blue and white theme will quickly conjure a care-free, coastal style.
A chunky sofa and armchair in pale wood with plump sky blue cushions and a matching coffee table with built-in storage space such as the Blooma Cavallo coffee table set, £699 from B&Q, could be irresistible.
Pull the look together with blue accessories from Matalan which has blue picnic ware, from £4.50 a set, a blue and white boathouse-style birdhouse, £8 (currently only available in stores), and lantern, £6.
Add a final jaunty seaside feel with a blue and white stripe seat cushion, £45, from The White Company. It can also be used as a floor cushion.
A tight budget may mean you can’t indulge in a holiday in a hot spot but you could replicate the atmosphere outside your back door.
Rattan furniture, with its woven appearance and rich dark shades, is evocative of verandas and sultry settings.
A generous-sized curved single sofa with footrest is currently reduced online from £999 to £699 from Homebase. Alternatively, make a statement with a weather-resistant high-backed rattan chair, £325 from Next.
Home bars are enjoying a big revival, so follow the cocktail crowd and invest in a waterproof Sicilia set, black rattan bar and four stools, £795 from Alexander Francis.
Small details count just as much outdoors as in and a naturally bleached Driftwood candle holder, £37 from OKA, is charming, or cast a soft glow in the evening with candlelight. Small square patterned tea light holders, in a variety of colours, are £2.99 each from Homebase.