Friday 21 October 2016

Let's go outside - How to create an inviting outdoor space

Make the most of the sunshine with an inviting outdoor space

Emily Westbrooks

Published 05/06/2016 | 02:30

A great garden requires just a little inspiration: Gloucester bistro set from Debenhams.
A great garden requires just a little inspiration: Gloucester bistro set from Debenhams.
Cute cup from Debenhams.
Trendy: Vintage leaf wipe-able tablecloth.
M&S bistro set
Argos lantern
House of Fraser speaker
Loft round printed tray from M&S.

After that long, cold winter, and not much spring, it's finally time to dust off the outdoor furniture, spread out a tablecloth and a few drinks and enjoy that lovely long stretch in the evenings. Or to wake up to coffee on the patio Sunday morning without having to bundle up.

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We all know it's impossible to predict whether any evening is going to be suitable for sitting outside, so it's best to be prepared with a cache of outdoor bits and pieces for those slivers of time when the sun shines or the temperature rises. Keep melamine plates and cups handy with a tray for bringing out snacks, stock up on candles for lanterns and tea light holders for those extra late nights, and keep a wipeable tablecloth on hand to add simple elegance.

Outdoor inspiration

A great backyard set up starts with a little inspiration. Decide first whether you're the type for a quick cup of tea and a treat in the garden, or more likely to invite the neighbourhood for a big barbecue and plan accordingly.

Buy it: Gloucester bistro set (with four chairs), €425, Debenhams

Tray Tricks


There's nothing worse than spending the whole afternoon trekking dishes and food back and forth from the kitchen to your perfect outdoor spot. Use a colourful plastic tray to take fewer trips, and stack your pretty melamine cups and dishes on it when they're not in use, ensuring you'll always be ready to zip out to the garden when the occasion arises.

Buy it: Loft round printed tray, €24, Marks & Spencer

Trusty Table


A table for two or 10 is key to being able to enjoy the outdoors whenever the sun shines. This cute bistro table from Marks & Spencer will work in small spaces, whether on a balcony or small garden.

buy it: Rosedale bistro set, €325, Marks & Spencer

Cute Cups


Melamine or plastic cups and plates give peace of mind if your outdoor space has concrete or stones. If a strong breeze or a klutzy companion flings a cup or plate off the table, no harm will be done. Melamine has come a long way in the last decade, from kitschy to cute. Some plastic tableware is almost nice enough for use indoors as well.

Buy it: Lido textured tumbler, €5, Debenhams

Lovely Lanterns


It's always great to be prepared for those surprise balmy evenings when you can stay out until the wee hours. To add a little romance, invest in pretty tea light holders and a few larger lanterns. This clever lantern from Argos stocks up on solar power to light your evenings later.

Buy it: Heart of House wooden solar lantern, €24, Argos

Trendy Tablecloth


The key to making the most of fleeting sunshine is to make sure everything is on hand and ready to get you out the back garden faster. Keep a wipeable laminated tablecloth or oilcloth around so you don't even have to worry about wiping your table down before setting drinks or magazines on it. A tablecloth instantly makes a gathering feel fancy, and oilcloth can deal with the odd sprinkling of (whisper it) rain.

Buy it: Vintage leaf wipe-able tablecloth, €30,

Top tech for dad


If there's a single piece of technology that has gotten worn out from sheer use time and time again, it's our portable speaker. From the beach to the backyard, a bluetooth-enabled speaker adds instant ambience and energy to any occasion, playing music from your phone with just a few clicks. Portable speakers come in rechargeable or battery operated versions, and range in volume and size from practically pocket-sized to slightly larger.

On the lookout for the perfect Father's Day gift that won't stress your bank account? Try this speaker from House of Fraser in a cool teal retro look that will set you back €100.

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