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.