For most city dwellers, the best moments of summer tend to take place after 7pm: that point in the day when the dusty commute gives way to a cool drink and shared plate on a warm evening. And, understandably, given our love of post-work alfresco eating, it’s influencing how we utilise every bit of outdoor space. From the smallest of balconies to shared courtyards, outside spaces are becoming extensions of our homes and – specifically – dining rooms.
“We’ve definitely seen a growing trend,” explains Frieda Gormley, co-founder of interiors brand House of Hackney. “There’s a new generation whose love of interiors has spilled into the garden, plus the sharing of inspirational outdoor entertaining images on Pinterest and Instagram has raised the bar and shown us what can be achieved with a little imagination.”
Isabelle Palmer, founder of small-space design service The Balcony Gardener, says that the key to creating an elegant outdoor dining space is to take inspiration from your own home: “Look at the colours you use or what your own style is – by following that you’ll nail the cohesion between indoors and outdoors. The other thing to remember is lighting. There’s nothing nicer than surrounding yourself with beautiful lamps as the sun goes down.”
And, of course, it’s always worth taking a lead from those Mediterranean folk who have been working the trend for centuries: “The French always do it so well,” explains Gormley. “A wooden table, some linen napkins, wild flowers and drinking glasses for wine.”
Bon appétit indeed. Scroll through the gallery below for our pick of the best outdoor accessories…
Main image: Applaro table with six chairs in brown, £365, Solvinden solar powered pendant lamps, from £10 each, and Sommar 2016 tablecloth, £12, all Ikea (ikea.com)
Add a dollop of syrup to this glass holder then place away from the table to keep your space chicly wasp free (£8.99, chelseagardener.com).
Garnish with herbs plucked from this Edible Window Box featuring chives, mint, thyme and more (£69.95, thebalconygardener.com).
It’s a wrap
As the sun goes down, stay cosy with this Coastal Strip cotton throw, also available in red and white (£49, johnlewis.com).
Keep your presentation fuss-free with Zara’s useful rustic bread basket in blue, yellow or fuchsia (£9.99, zarahome.com).
With shades of red, pink and yellow, Habitat’s Bridget outdoor fairy lights are all the sunset you need (£35 for 60, habitat.co.uk).
The Helios Firebowl by Skagerak Denmark is both a portable fireplace and – with the added grill – a barbecue (£225, skandium.com).
Serve your guests water or something stronger in this beautiful Barber and Osgerby Olio Duck Egg Jug (£25, royaldoulton.co.uk).
This outdoor side table by Eric Degenhardt for Richard Lampert comes with a hook to fold away and hang up (£198, twentytwentyone.com).
Make your outside space an oasis of green with plants at all levels; Urban Outfitters’ hanging pot is ideal (£40, urbanoutfitters.com).
Bring the luxe of inside out by using House Of Hackney’s Palmeral large cushion to accessorise (£148, houseofhackney.com).
Rockett St George’s bistro chair in navy and ecru is all you need for lazy evenings under the stars (£99, rockettstgeorge.co.uk).
Dot a few of these LED night lights around the edges of your outdoor space for some gentle bird spotting (£7.95, shop.balticmill.com).
Made from recycled bottles, the waterproof Maui outdoor rug is the perfect way to expand that indoor feeling (£199, made.com).
Keep your tea lights aflame with a scattering of Pomax’s Cordoue ribbed glass jars in navy, lime, coral and pale coral (£6, amara.com).
At 75cm x 39cm, Lily Manor’s Louvre Mirror will add the impression of space and light to your outdoor area (£29.99, wayfair.co.uk).