Sometimes, you just need a spot to relax with a cup of tea and the paper; other times, you want a place for family or friends to gather informally for drinks or a meal. Whether you’ve got a small courtyard, a sunny balcony or a larger block, being able to use that outdoor area can add inestimable pleasure to your lifestyle.
There are countless ways to make your outdoor living area more welcoming, but the most obvious is to install some furniture to suit the space. The right furniture can completely transform an outdoor area and define how the space is used. Open any home store catalogue and you’ll see dozens of different options. Which to choose?
The first thing to consider is how much space you have and what you actually want to do in that space. Is it primarily an area for eating, or do you also want to relax? Can the furniture be permanently placed or do you need to fold it away when not in use?
Once upon a time, we all made do with director’s chairs and a folding table. Although the humble director’s chair is now available in an updated, modern aluminium version that is lightweight, inexpensive and very easy to stack and store, these days there are many, many more options to choose from.
Timber outdoor furniture is a classic, natural-look favourite, although bear in mind that it probably requires the most maintenance. Available in a huge range, from tables, benches, chairs and stools to Adirondack chairs and sun lounges, outdoor timber is solid and durable, and can be kept looking good with an annual clean and a coat of oil. You can also keep it looking up-to-date and improve the comfort factor by adding lots of colourful cushions!
Powder-coated steel and glass dining settings give a modern, slimline look to an outdoor area, while low-maintenance resin wicker can add a relaxed, resort-style ambience, especially if you have the space to add sofas and armchairs to define a separate ‘ outdoor room’ in which to relax. Look for styles that come with padded polyester cushions that are also weather-resistant. And if relaxing is your favourite thing, be sure to find the space for a comfy daybed or hammock or choose a lounge long enough to stretch out completely for the occasional siesta.
Whatever style you choose, don’t forget a large umbrella – cantilevered or free-standing – or shade awning: the sun is wonderful, but not when it’s shining directly on your alfresco lunch!