In just a couple of weeks, it’ll officially be the longest day of the year, meaning summer’s well and truly here. For date fans, the summer solstice is on 21 June! So how do you create the perfect summer entertaining space? Somewhere you can soak up the sun and comfortably invite friends over for a BBQ and bubbly.
There’s more to creating a summer entertaining space than you may think. So if you’ve neglected your outdoor space or simply fancy switching things up a little (or a lot) to make your garden an entertaining space, you’re in luck. You could say, at SMART Garden Offices, we’ve visited a fair number of clients whose gardens we’ve helped to transform into a social soiree. So, here are our four simple steps to planning yours.
Step 1: Decide How you Want to Entertain
When you think about having friends and family over, do you imagine having everyone over at once, or would you rather more modest affair? You may do both, but typically speaking, most people tend to entertain one way or the other.
If you have a big family and love nothing more than having everyone over, you need to think carefully about your outdoor entertaining space. If your garden allows, you may decide to have purposeful areas, each of which has something different to offer guests. For instance, you may have a lawned area for children to play on and separate seated areas for more private conversations.
With large families, you’ll need to think about where they’ll all sit. You may have a big enough table but if not, lowered bedding walls that double-up as seating are a good idea. As are lots of picnic blankets!
If you prefer having fewer people over at a time, you’ll have other considerations. You’ll likely want to create a more intimate space. This could be a cleverly designed patio area with beautiful rattan furniture, a raised decked area, or even a garden room complete with cosy seating.
Aside from the number of people, you’ll also want to think about when you’ll use your outdoor entertaining space. Will it be for the occasional BBQ, pool parties and birthdays, or do you plan on being a little more sporadic than this?
If you plan on using your outdoor entertaining space a lot, you’ll need to think carefully about your main entertaining spaces.
Step 2: Prepare your route to your main entertaining space
Garden design is an intricate business. How you ‘zone’ your outdoor entertaining space is important in preparing your ‘route’ to your main entertaining space. You need to think about how connected you would like the different spaces in your garden to be.
It’s useful if you carve your outdoor entertaining space into three separate areas: dining, open lawn and socialising.
The spaces need to relate to one another, much like interior design, so that your guests feel encouraged to use them and know what their purpose is. For example, you may choose to have stepping stones leading up to a fire pit area or a welcoming decked area connected to your garden room for your socialising.
On the other hand, your dining area should be closer to the kitchen on a thoughtfully designed patio. Nobody wants to walk a long way with platters of food!
Likewise, thought needs to be given as where your open lawn should be and how much should be grass. If you have lots of family and friends, and they have kids, it’s a good idea to keep your lawn close to your patio. That way, guests can entertain themselves with garden games as you host.
Be aware of one of the biggest outdoor entertaining space mistakes though. Often, people are over-generous with the size of their patio and make it far too big. It can be a real distraction if it’s not intended to be your main entertaining space.
Step 3: Create your Main Entertaining Space
Once you know the main outdoor entertaining spaces you want to create, here’s the exciting part.
You can quite literally let your creative side run wild with ideas as you work out how to make each space wonderfully inviting.
The ‘outdoor lounge’ look is right on-trend. Imagine soaking up the summer sun while relaxing with friends in a stylish outdoor living room on a Sunday. This is the ultimate outdoor entertaining space. There’s a fantastic range of furniture to choose from too, and top of the list are rattan corner sofas and daybeds. You can even up-cycle scaffolding and pallets adorned with cushions to create a rustic, inviting feel.
To heat your space, you may choose to have a fire-pit. A fire pit will take the chill from those slightly cooler evenings and really bring everyone together.
If you want to screen off your main social area so that it feels separate, a great way to do this is to use planters, screens and even different types of flooring. Not only do plants make your dining area look for colourful, they will also make the space feel more intimate.
Don’t forget to create shade though, especially if your garden is a sun trap. A permanent pergola or a sail shade is a great option. They’re not expensive either, retailing at around £40-£50.
Step 4: Prepare Your Break Out Spaces
As much as we love the company of friends and family, it’s also nice to give guests the option of having somewhere they can escape to. Not everyone wants to join in with the same conversation.
That’s why it’s a great idea to create designated break-out spaces. They don’t need to be very big. The main thing is that they serve a purpose. It could be as simple as a love seat in the corner of the garden, a hammock, an area for children to play, an outdoor bar area for the adults, or if you have the budget, a summer garden room.
The same level of thought needs to go into where to place your summer garden room. It can be a real focal point. However, before you decide where to position it, you need to think about how you intend to use it and where the sun lands in your garden. How do you want it to connect to the rest of your summer entertaining space?
The Ultra garden room pictured below, as an example, shows just how seamlessly a summer garden room can work as a break-out space without feeling disconnected. It’s within glancing distance of the main dining area, yet private enough to chill out with a friend over a glass of wine. Floor to ceiling glass and a sizeable front-opening aspect means you’re not shutting yourself away!
Order Your Brochure Now
We hope you’ve found these summer entertaining space steps helpful. For inspiration, please download our brochure, which includes some striking garden room examples across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and London. Prices start from £10,020 and every one of our SMART garden rooms boasts full thermal insulation, making them a wonderful social space all year long.