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Get your pin board ready: 10 amazing garden ideas for summer entertaining

By Sarah Wiltshire, Editor

Throw open the doors and embrace your outdoor space with our ideas for every type of garden

Outdoor seating

It only takes the suggestion of sunshine for us to start dreaming of long lazy days spent outdoors with friends and family, gathered in a picture perfect garden, drinking homemade lemonade and enjoying a delicious feast. This summer we’re going to turn this dream into a reality and make the most of our outdoor space. Whether you have a small courtyard, a patio, or an expansive lawn, our ideas will help you get it ready for the warmer weather. 

If you only want to make small tweaks, we have simple summer garden ideas to update your current design. Think pretty table settings and soft furnishings to create a unique area for any barbecues or afternoon celebrations you’re planning over the next few months. 

Looking to totally overhaul your outside space? It’s easy to create a seamless look with our tips for bringing the inside out. Thinking of your garden as another room will help craft a cohesive finish that calls for loved ones to come over and enjoy this new extension of your home.

For impromptu gatherings or summer garden parties you’ve been planning all year, our summer garden ideas will instantly transform your outdoor space so you’ll be ready to receive your guests and show off a garden you’ve been dreaming of for years. 

summer garden outdoor room

Take advantage of a big space

If you’ve got a large garden, take advantage of the space and create a beautiful oasis that you can come home to relax in after a hard day at the office. Cosy, soft chairs and sofas with cushions in pastel hues will be too inviting to ignore. Just add a coffee table to hold your favourite books, cold drinks and some candles and you’ll have an outdoor haven you will dream of spending time in.

Planning a big summer garden gathering? This set up is perfect for relaxing get-togethers with friends that can continue long after the sun goes down – just add blankets and lanterns to keep the party going.

outdoor dining room for summer

Bring a traditional dining room set-up outdoors

Big family get-togethers are best hosted in a traditional setting. So if you’re anticipating months of alfresco meals, set up a timeless outdoor dining room to make the most of your day or evening together. All that home cooked food will fair better laid out on a classic table and conversation with loved ones will be so much easier with the conventional dinner party set-up.

For a traditional, authentic look that will always work well in the garden, opt for wooden furniture that will weather naturally with age. Add a backdrop of lush green plants and rugged textures to make sure your new-look garden room is warm and inviting.

John Lewis Henley furniture

Take inspiration from the past

If you don’t have the luxury of a covered area to set up an outdoor dining room, why not add a touch of whimsy to your garden by placing your furniture in the middle of the lawn? Reminiscent of the old English tradition of taking tea in the garden (think Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam in Emma), this look is refined and elegant.

Looking for an updated take on the trend? Choose graphic black furniture to bring this style into the 21st Century. Prefer the graceful look of days gone by? If you have overhanging trees, go all out and add LED lights to the branches for a fanciful look after dark.

Bright furniture

Be bold with colour on colour

Bring the LA sunshine to your home with bright, colourful furniture. Mix a laidback Californian attitude with bold and brash pool party vibes by opting for mid century design in loud clashing colours.

Not sure this look is for you? As soon as the sun is shining and flowers begin to bloom, a white wall or patio can be brought to life as the backdrop to burnt orange or teal furniture. Don’t be afraid to pair colour with colour on cushions and tableware to finish off your new look.

Summer garden table setting

Put some thought into your accessories

Don’t forget about the little details: accessories will really finish off any outdoor space and can give your new garden design a polished finish. One way to do this is to use tableware to show your personal style, either with one complete set, or by mixing different collections to make your table more unique.

Pile up place settings, rather than positioning them in the traditional way, for a modern twist. Add little touches from the outdoors to decorate each one, such as a flower or sprig of your favourite garden herb to complete the look.

Garden furniture for summer

Make the most of a smaller space

f you’re working with a smaller area or a balcony, you can still design a striking outdoor room worthy of any Pinterest board. Rather than completely filling your space with a bulky sofa and square table, opt for a chic bistro table and chair set. Choose a round table to make the most of the area: a square version will fill the space too much and feel more imposing.

Make the look your own by choosing bright colours and accessorising with pot plants or wall planters. The perfect place to sit and sip your morning coffee. By night, lights or lanterns will complete your perfectly curated corner.

John Lewis Cabana Furniture

Think of new ways to entertain

If you have the luxury of a large garden, invest in some interesting pieces and take advantage of this opportunity to create a room completely different to anything you have indoors. A retro sixties vibe will hit just the right note for more relaxed entertaining, giving your garden a festival feel that everyone will just love to spend time in.

String lights from tree to tree or wrap them around the trunks for a magical ambience when the sun goes down. A retro swing chair or cocooning pod sofa will add a stunning statement to your garden retreat that kids will love to escape to as much as the adults. If you are working with a stone floor or patio, position some rugs under the furniture to add warmth and texture to your new design.

Outdoor living room for summer

Stay up later with friends

Entertaining long into the night can be so much fun once the warmer weather hits, so setting up your garden to make your guests comfortable once the sun goes down is essential. Heat your space with a striking chiminea to really set the scene for a party, negating the need for guests to huddle under blankets.

 If you have a separate decked area, why not base your entertaining area here? Creating a stand alone area for guests to go to once dinner is finishing and the real party begins will signal the move to the next stage of your evening. Set the scene with festoon lights, hurricane lamps and flickering lanterns.

Pool cushions

PLAY WITH ACCESSORIES

Hosting a pool party is the ultimate summer decadence. Elevate this year's gathering with some on trend updates for 2018 that will be fun to put together. This season, poolside style is bold and bright so be brave with colour and mix up different variations of gorgeous blues, yellows and reds to wow guests and make sure your party is one to remember.

Cushions and throws are an easy way to update your garden and add a pop of on-trend colour. Scatter bright cushions on the grass or deck and add a vibrant rug or two for guests to lounge on. If you're expecting a larger crowd, deckchairs are a simple way of adding more seating and creating a distinct pool party atmosphere. Low level tables add to the casual feel.

Outdoor table and chairs with giant balloons

Create extra drama for a special occasion

Special occasions call for more extravagant decoration. Dress up your garden as you would indoors – but with a little extra romance. String lights, lanterns and candles are classic touches that will make any table setting look celebration-ready, especially after dark. Add giant helium balloons to really achieve that 'wow' factor and impress your guests.

This look can work in any garden, but is so beautiful in a wild flower garden, surrounded by plants and trees. Fake the look with pot plants if you are working with a small space or more landscaped garden. In fact, we love this look so much we think it's good enough to style up any type of garden – all year round...

Tips and ideas for making the most of your garden space