CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH JOHN LEWIS
1. Try Out A Trend
One of this summer's most popular materials, weave is big in interiors right now, both outside and in. Feeling tempted? All of John Lewis' woven furniture is comfy and easy to care for – the synthetic wicker is UV resistant and simple to clean. (The Cabana range, with a tranquil hanging pod perfect for curling up in with a good book, is an SL fave.)
2. Consider How It Will Age
To ensure you'll always love the look of outdoor furniture, think about how it might age – wood is most prone to changing over time, and will behave differently in a sunny, dry space compared to a shady, damper one (although most wooden furniture can be restored by washing and re-oiling). Want something super easy to care for? Aluminium and synthetic wicker are your best bet: simply wash them with a mild detergent and non-abrasive cloth to keep them looking smart.
3. Make The Most Of Your Space
Modular sets are ideal for small gardens or balconies, as pieces can be bought individually. Either opt for a low, casual dining table so the set can double as lounging and dining, or plump for a coffee table and footstool combination for versatile use: simply remove the cushion to create a coffee table, or use a tray on top of the cushion to create a stable top.
4. Consider Soft Furnishings
Cushions are both a great way to style new garden furniture and update what you already have. We love the bold colours and patterns in John Lewis' latest range – plus, many styles are double-sided, allowing you to create multiple looks. Runners make another great addition, adding colour and vibrancy and helping to create an atmosphere on a budget (with prices starting from just £10).
5. Make The Most Of Planting
When it comes to updating your outdoor space without breaking the bank, planting is key. Large, structural plants are on-trend right now, both indoors and out. Use oversized pots and mix planting in with your furniture to create an oasis-like feel. Or, for a more eclectic look, go for small, mix-and-match planters – place on table tops or invest in a plant ladder (available in John Lewis' Eden range) to create a display.
6. Don't Over-Clutter
If your garden or balcony is very small, it's best to keep things simple – a mix of lanterns and string lights for ambience and some lush green plants is all you need.
7. Dress Your Table Like A Pro
If you're entertaining al fresco, use succulents and botanical plants to create a lush, green centrepiece. Cheese plants also add instant drama; snip their stems and dress them in a planter or vase (you could even make use of old jars and pots, too). And don't forget about the chairs: add some cushions and throws to keep your guests comfortable long into the night.
8. Up Your BBQ Game
BBQ cooking is much more than just bangers and burgers – pizza ovens are huge right now. You can't go wrong with John Lewis' Uuni model, one of their summer bestsellers. All you need to do is fire up the oven and you'll be cooking authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas in just 60 seconds. It can also be used to cook fish, meat and vegetables in no time. SL have also been eyeing up the department store's covetable range of party-ready glass and tablewear too.
From fun cocktail accessories and grown-up drinking games to printed plates and tumblers that really make a statement, make al fresco dining even more appealing this summer.
9. Add Two Different Types
Outdoor lighting should be considered in two parts – permanent lighting to illuminate your home, and seasonal lighting to decorate your outdoor space. If you're a homeowner, permanent wall lights are a way to illuminate the walls of your house (as well as gain some extra security), whereas seasonal lighting – think solar stakes, table lanterns and string lights – is more affordable and super easy to set up, making it ideal for owners and renters alike.
10. Highlight The Best Bits
Unsure where to place your outdoor lighting? It's all about highlighting the best features in your space. Place uplighters around your favourite plants to draw attention to them in the evening or use them to illuminate a feature tree. Table areas should also be a focus; we love lanterns for mood lighting.