Balmy evenings, scented flowers, a bunch of friends and something delicious on the barbecue… Entertaining outdoors is never nicer than on the perfect summer evening. Interior designer Gemma Fordham shows you how to make everything in your garden lovely.
With parents counting down the days until the summer holidays begin and with a few hot weekends already under our belts, it is easy to understand why there is excitement in the air. The deckchairs have been dusted off, the smell of neighbours’ barbecues is wafting through our open windows, the tinny melody of the ice-cream van making his rounds hangs in the air… it is time to get that garden summer ready!
If you are anything like me, you will have ignored that mysterious space at the back of the house for much of the winter! I make no secret of the fact that I haven’t a single green finger on my hand, and yet, come those summer months, I love nothing better than to chill out in the sanctuary of my little terraced courtyard garden. Here are my top tips for making the most of your garden this summer…
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
You just can’t go wrong with twinkly lights. And with solar-powered LEDs readily available at very reasonable prices and reducing the need for electric connections, your only questions need be, “where can I put them and how many can I get away with?” I love placing them in the more established trees in my garden or along the fencing and bunching them together in vases and bowls – it’s a great way of decorating your table or making a focal point in the garden, no matter what size your patch of green is.
Corner shop: make the most of long summer nights with comfy seating
There’s nothing nicer than an outdoor lounge area. When the sun goes down and the night air gets a little chilly, you will be glad of your cosy nook complete with throws and comfy cushions. I’ve chosen a selection of monochrome, teal and mustard yellow scatter cushions for my seating area which perfectly compliment the dark grey rattan sofa sett I have under cover in the garden. These – along with the mustard throw – create an inviting space to enjoy with friends well into the early hours. Why not try out your own colour combination to see what suits your garden?
Summer romance: candlelight and lanterns
Make your garden feel luxurious with candlelight and lanterns – the more the better! If you are short on floor space, why not hang them from your trellis or trees as I have done here? Not only are they beautiful to look at and super-romantic, but useful too: if you choose citronella candles, they will also help to ward off those nasty little bugs! I have included a couple of my current faves that you can grab for yourself from Wimbledon for you below – Nordic Style in the Village also has some beautiful polished steel storm lanterns that will look good on a garden terrace now, or flanking your fireplace come winter, too.
Raise the bar: why head out when you can create your own?
Why not get creative and make yourself a bar area to enjoy with your friends? We have done just that for a little get together this weekend (above). Let your mind run riot: as you can see, all you need is just a few old timber pallets (easy to pick up second-hand or online), a lick of paint (tester pots, hello!), a little imagination, and voila!
Make the most of that dumping ground
I’m sure we all have that one unused space in our home that ends up as a dumping ground, right? Space is a premium here in London, so try to make the most of that space – no matter the size! This run-down conservatory had seen better days when we moved in, but as a designer, I could see the potential. The natural light and the airy feel along with its location and proximity to the open-plan kitchen diner and courtyard garden lends itself perfectly to entertaining and enjoying that last hour of sunshine at the end of the day.
Choosing a palette of light greys, pastel pink and white, I was able to create a chill-out space with next to no budget that is perfect for relaxing in when you get home after a hard day.
Installing a chandelier gives the space a more luxe feel. By adding a few personal touches – like the hand-made bunting, artificial flowers and scented candles, along with a retro-style radio, soft woollen throws, a few twinkly lights and of course a selection of your favourite magazines – you can be sure to make the most of that forgotten room.
Grill power: throw another shrimp on the barbie!
It wouldn’t be summer without a barbecue, and cooking alfresco is a wonderful way to enjoy the long evenings – if you know what you’re doing. Thankfully nowadays there a whole range of time-saving and easy-to-use out gas-fired options out there. Along with gas options, regular BBQs come a variety of different sizes and colours to suit your needs, your budget and your tastes – from state of the art to super-portable. Here are a few that I have found that you might want to consider, including an iconic Weber and a compact Cadac…
All that’s left to do is pour yourself a nice long glass of something cold and enjoy your wonderful garden revamp… Wishing you all the very best of summers – enjoy every minute with your family and friends… Cheers!
Written By: Gemma Fordham | Home & Garden Editor