Dreamy evenings spent on the deck outside and fun al fresco dinners with friends on the patio…Now that summer is here, it’s time to take advantage of the beautiful balmy evenings our climate is famous for, and spend time entertaining and relaxing outdoors.

If your patio needs a bit of a boost, a few smart moves can help you transform it, says Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth, whose Connect app puts you in touch with service professionals such as handymen, builders and painters in your area within minutes.

“This past year has seen spaces traditionally reserved for one activity serve double purposes — the dining table that’s a work-from-home desk, the guest bedroom that’s also a makeshift gym,” he says. Similarly, people now want patios and outdoor spaces that are beautiful, but also functional.

“Open-air lounges with outdoor kitchens that feature meat smokers and pizza ovens, chill zones with low seating and chimeneas, or spa-like areas with egg chairs and saunas — whatever kind of feel you want to create, the trend is growing to create great outdoor areas where we can entertain in style, or just spend quality time enjoying the space ourselves,” he says.

Furniture and decor

There’s nothing like ratty furniture to make a patio look tired and dated. Transform it into a stylish and inviting space with furniture that’s sophisticated but that can withstand the weathering of seasons. Rattan furniture is summer 2021’s most quintessential look and is chic in granite grey or Scandi neutrals.

“Think about how you plan to use your outdoor space,” advises Alen. “If it’s to relax, set the tone with comfy padded seating that invites you to sit back and put your feet up while you enjoy the outdoors. Group furniture together in a L-shaped seating arrangement, with a low table for decorations, like bowls or container plants.”

Accessorise the seating with outdoor cushions in pops of bold accent colours or botanical prints and an outdoor rug. For instant impact, add the most sought-after, cosy chair of summer 2021:  a trendy hanging chair that will add a French Riviera feel. Also on point, egg chairs are made for retreating into.

If your patio space is destined for alfresco meals, create an inviting dining space. A long table with benches is great for bigger areas, while a bistro set is perfect for two. For evenings that need extra wow-factor, wheel in a smart drinks trolley.

The pandemic has made chefs out of all of us, and this summer will see the patio as an extension of the kitchen for many. Enjoy the benefits of cooking outdoors with a pizza oven or summer’s most covetable foodie gadget, a meat smoker, which gives meat an intense, delicious flavour.

Art outside

Style your outside area with interesting pieces of art. Statues provide a striking visual touch, with larger pieces best used as a focal point, and smaller statues as accents. Outdoor wall plaques are quirky, while decorative wall screens in plastic or metal look beautiful and provide both shade and privacy. You could also group hurricane lanterns together as an artistic feature, with lit pillar candles inside for a beautifully gentle glow on balmy evenings.

Shady spots

Don’t forget to include garden shade to keep everyone cool. “Anything that creates shade and protects you from the sun is key if your patio or outdoor area doesn’t have a roof,” says Alen. Float a lightweight sail over seating to create a shady break, or consider a sturdy freestanding outdoor umbrella that allows you to angle or move its positioning depending on the time of day.

Retractable awnings attached to an exterior wall are ideal for small spaces and to shade patios, as are wooden pergola structures. You can stretch fabric over a pergola, or encourage climbing plants to cover it for a beautifully natural shaded area. “Choose a fragrant climber like jasmine, wisteria or sweet peas to envelop the space in scent,” says Alen. “And if you plant a tree or a large shrub strategically, it can grow to provide shade where there is none.”

Before you swing full tilt into a summer of entertaining and having fun, give your patio and outside areas a rethink, says Alen. “Clear out any old, broken furniture, donate play equipment your kids have outgrown, and get rid of any accessories that don’t seem to fit the style of your space. Trim and tidy up any hedges and bushes that form a backdrop to your patio space, then simply relax and enjoy summer’s beauty.”


Things you need to know before extending your home