As summer approaches, our thoughts turn to the outdoors. Creating an attractive patio area for enjoying the al fresco charms of outdoor living is a great way of making the most of the warmer weather. Alternatively, with a conservatory, it is possible to bring the outdoors in, enjoying the changing seasons whilst keeping warm and dry.
Whether it is a patio or conservatory that is being refreshed or fully redesigned, there are some important points to remember in order to achieve the best results.
Few pleasures match those of sitting outside on the patio in summer, enjoying a glass or two of something cold with friends. Make these moments comfortable and luxurious by investing in stylish seating that looks great and makes lingering on the patio inviting. Position sofa sets carefully in sociable configurations. Many seating sets include the additional option of a coffee or dining table. For evenings, why not string some fairy lights around the patio and think about investing in a patio heater to take the chill off the night air? Carefully placed urns or flower pots can liven up the area - consider sculptural plants such as cordylines for a modern look, or geraniums for traditional colour and appeal.
Nothing beats fresh air for enhancing the flavour of food, and a well-configured barbecue area on the patio makes entertaining a breeze. If space allows, consider a built-in cooking area with plenty of additional room for preparation and serving.
On a fully south-facing patio, shade will be needed. Parasols offer flexibility and style, or a more permanent structure, such as a pergola or trellis clad with fragrant honeysuckle or a rambling rose, provides pretty, natural cover.
Conservatory style cues
Because the walls of a conservatory are mostly glass it can be very bright and warm. Sun blinds or shades are essential to control temperature and light levels in the room. There are many attractive designs to suit all styles and shapes of conservatory and, if professionally fitted, blinds can be really effective.
Traditionally, conservatory furniture is made from wicker, rattan, wood or other natural materials, and it makes sense to consider these options as they are resistant to the onslaught of the sun. Sofas in both traditional colonial styles and modern cubist shapes work beautifully in a light and spacious garden room, making it the place where everyone in the house wants to be.
As a conservatory borders the garden, floors should be practical and easy to clean. Ceramic tiles feel cool underfoot in the summer, and if underfloor heating is installed, the conservatory can also be a pleasant place to be in winter. Use upholstery and fabrics that are resistant to fading. It is best to select pale colours and accent with brighter shades if required.
Take advantage of the extra winter warmth in the conservatory for growing tender plants such as lemon trees in large ceramic urns, or trail a grapevine or bougainvillea across the ceiling for exotic effect.
Summer will soon be here, so use these tips and ideas to prepare a stunning patio or conservatory of which you can be proud.
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