Despite all the new restaurants, bistros and cafés springing up around Chiswick High Street, more and more people are choosing to entertain at home. With space at a premium for many in London's expensive property market, those lucky enough to have even the smallest of outside spaces should be making full use of this invaluable asset.

From balconies and patios to lawns and even allotments, the modern urban garden is no longer just for summer barbecues, trampolines and tool sheds. These days your outside space is an essential part of the home, and frequently the main area for entertaining, whatever the weather. Wooden pergolas or adjustable canopies can create cozy, dry nooks, while ever more impressive fire pits not only create warmth on chilly days but give a softly lit social hub around which you can entertain into the night.

Waterproof rugs and throw cushions add colour and comfort. New innovations in weatherproof material can give you stylish, luxurious seating all year round without having to re-varnish it every few months. If your garden is dominated by trees, why not hang lanterns from the branches; attaching empty jars to safely carry tea lights is a safe, inexpensive option, or you could invest in some outdoors “fairy” lights to create a romantic, magical look while adding soft light to your garden or balcony. In fact, lighting is as important in the garden as in any room of your home, whether running spotlights along a path for a modern look, hiding different coloured lights amongst the plants for a more dramatic look or perhaps using an old fashioned little lamppost to give a Victorian feel. Mirrors hidden in the hedgerows and hung on walls (or even just propped up against one) give an impression of greater space and light, while many modern outdoor heaters come with their own cosy lighting effect.

Bring soft furnishings outdoors to turn your garden into another room
Exotic garden water feature to add calm to your outdoor space
Garden fire pits and furnaces create a focal point for outdoors entertaining

Even the smallest space can be used as an extra dining room. Most balconies can be completely filled with just a table and two chairs, but a fold-down ledge against in the middle of the wall coupled with benches running round the edge of your space can create a perfectly comfortable social nook for far more than two. Even window boxes can add that little bit of greenery or wildlife to a garden-less home; a good sized box can produce plenty of different herbs to add to your cooking throughout the year, whereas there are many flowers that attract butterflies whilst thriving in a window or wall’s shade.

Perhaps you have a tiny patio surrounded by high walls? Try a vertical garden, where the wildlife climbs the wall. With more surface area to cover, there is a lot more greenery to enjoy without sacrificing floor space. Hanging baskets can be fitted to walls, too, if floor space is at a minimum. Perhaps a Banksy style mural might add a touch of style to a blank white wall, or try an accent wall of your favourite colour to really make your outdoor space “pop”. Water features can also be attached to a wall if space is at a premium, or perhaps build your social hub around a stone fountain - the sound of water trickling is blissfully calming, and will transport you away from the constant hum of city traffic.

Gravel is an easy, low maintenance and low cost flooring option for limited and uneven space, as you can use it right to the edges of your garden to really maximize the available area and won’t have to worry about mowing any lawn. And finally, don’t fear the British weather! A trellised bower with enough plants growing around it will hide an inexpensive plastic covering on top which keeps you dry whilst still letting in the light on sunny days, or invest in a stylish glass canopy for year-round protection. Even a large table umbrella can be enough to dine outside. With some clever planning, stylish heating and cozy lighting, even rain won’t stop you from enjoying and entertaining in the great – and small -  outdoors.

colleen@bespokelivingchiswick.com

Add Lighting to your outdoor space to add magic to your garden,  patio or balcony

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