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Spending your outdoor summer in a tiny garden or balcony? Use these expert design tips to create a stylish haven

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Danish brand Hay’s elegant and slimline Palissade range of tables, benches and chairs is designed to blend in with the landscape and features a hardy powder-coated finish. From €295, Arnotts

Danish brand Hay’s elegant and slimline Palissade range of tables, benches and chairs is designed to blend in with the landscape and features a hardy powder-coated finish. From €295, Arnotts

Habitat trough two-seater bistro set, €180, Argos

Habitat trough two-seater bistro set, €180, Argos

Wishbone outdoor chair, €2,970, Roche Bobois

Wishbone outdoor chair, €2,970, Roche Bobois

Black watering can, €16.99, Homesense

Black watering can, €16.99, Homesense

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Danish brand Hay’s elegant and slimline Palissade range of tables, benches and chairs is designed to blend in with the landscape and features a hardy powder-coated finish. From €295, Arnotts

One of the loveliest gardens I’ve ever seen wasn’t a garden at all, it was the roof terrace belonging to Mark Grehan, owner of Dublin’s dreamy floral studio The Garden in Powerscourt Townhouse. He had transformed a blank canvas, a simple decked roof terrace, into a lush retreat. Matte, inky-blue walls created a cocooning feel, blending with the muted tones of the swishing grasses and elegant potted olive trees.

I could imagine spending an entire afternoon there, nose in a brilliant book, which is exactly how any well-designed outdoor space should feel — inviting, welcoming and comfortable.

Ever since, I’ve been inspired to never feel restricted by the size of an outdoor space.

“Think about how you can use every inch of your small garden space to its full potential,” says Rachel Morgans, Brown Thomas and Arnotts buying director for home & living. “For example, the nook of a garden is all you need for a reading corner — you could add a hanging chair, which will keep the floor and sight-line clear, providing a sense of space in the smallest of areas.”

“This summer, the ‘down to earth’ trend is very popular at Arnotts,” says Morgans. “Opt for natural woods and materials in your furniture and add accents of brass, gold and frosted glass to achieve the look. You can soften these harder textures with textured throws and cushions in a layered tonal palette.”

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Wishbone outdoor chair, €2,970, Roche Bobois

Wishbone outdoor chair, €2,970, Roche Bobois

Wishbone outdoor chair, €2,970, Roche Bobois

Adding texture and colour through plants is also a no-brainer. For breezy balconies, where the wind can result in your plants drying out very quickly, grasses and olive trees work well, as they’re accustomed to more challenging conditions (and if you don’t want to spend every evening watering your plants, it also helps to use a heavier, clay-based soil combined with lots of grit, as this will help hold onto the moisture).

It’s also relatively easy to grow edibles like oregano, sage, rosemary, mint, basil and lavender in balcony boxes or in pots placed in areas that get a decent amount of sun. “Highlight focus areas with clusters of pots, with plants and foliage at varying heights and widths to draw the eye to different levels,” advises Morgans. “Mixing in a variety of materials like rattan and terracotta can give your garden an effortless, layered-up look.”

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Habitat trough two-seater bistro set, €180, Argos

Habitat trough two-seater bistro set, €180, Argos

Habitat trough two-seater bistro set, €180, Argos

Furniture should ideally be slimline and low profile — this isn’t the place for chunky rattan pieces. With the right compact dining solution, even the smallest balcony terrace “can be transformed into something exceptional”.

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Collections like Hay Palissade range or Habitat bistro sets are designed to slot neatly against walls without encroaching on whatever limited space you have.

For city gardens or narrow spaces, Morgans recommends adding a decorative garden mirror. “It will help make the space appear larger than it really is, and by positioning a table close by you can enjoy a view of the garden wherever you are seated.”

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Black watering can, €16.99, Homesense

Black watering can, €16.99, Homesense

Black watering can, €16.99, Homesense

When it comes to decorating a compact decked area, create a cohesive feel by choosing a colour scheme that reflects the style of the interiors. “A small deck can be a continuation of your indoor space. Dress it with a furniture set and decorative lights so it becomes somewhere you want to spend more of your time and unwind in the evenings. Soft accessories can be brought outside to add personality and a sense of comfort.”



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