Inside out

Relaxing and entertaining outside is one of the summer’s pleasures.

Just saying ‘al fresco’ conjures images of informal gatherings and leisurely meals enjoyed outdoors, but it’s all about the setting.

A dull space furnished with wobbly, uncomfortable furniture won’t encourage family and guests to linger, so it’s important to create a special ‘outdoor room’ where you can socialise and eat in style.

A home by the shore may be out of reach but a crisp blue and white theme will quickly conjure a care-free, coastal style.

A chunky sofa and armchair in pale wood with plump sky blue cushions and a matching coffee table with built-in storage space such as the Blooma Cavallo coffee table set, £699 from B&Q, could be irresistible.

Pull the look together with blue accessories from Matalan which has blue picnic ware, from £4.50 a set, a blue and white boathouse-style birdhouse, £8 (currently only available in stores), and lantern, £6.

Add a final jaunty seaside feel with a blue and white stripe seat cushion, £45, from The White Company. It can also be used as a floor cushion.

A tight budget may mean you can’t indulge in a holiday in a hot spot but you could replicate the atmosphere outside your back door.

Rattan furniture, with its woven appearance and rich dark shades, is evocative of verandas and sultry settings.

A generous-sized curved single sofa with footrest is currently reduced online from £999 to £699 from Homebase. Alternatively, make a statement with a weather-resistant high-backed rattan chair, £325 from Next.

Home bars are enjoying a big revival, so follow the cocktail crowd and invest in a waterproof Sicilia set, black rattan bar and four stools, £795 from Alexander Francis.

Small details count just as much outdoors as in and a naturally bleached Driftwood candle holder, £37 from OKA, is charming, or cast a soft glow in the evening with candlelight. Small square patterned tea light holders, in a variety of colours, are £2.99 each from Homebase.