Planning an outdoor patio area

When it comes to planning a courtyard or patio, just as planning an area in a house it is a great idea to put together a mood board. When I flip through magazines I cut out images that catch my eye and pop them into my home inspiration file. My home file is divided into sections - bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens etc. I use the clear A4 plastic slips and  place my images between the plastic, this way when it comes to planning or re-decorating a new area, I can easily search ideas. Of course now we have the Internet and Pinterest, it makes life so much easier to be able to store all your images in one place. I have a Pinterest board especially for outdoor ideas, however sometimes I want to be able to feel the paper between my hands not just the keyboard on my finger tips.

My perfect outdoor area has to be filled with spectacular furniture and today you can buy rattan, wood, plastic and glass that has been re-designed to withstand our outdoor weather. A set of rattan chairs can look fabulous teamed with a weathered table. Outdoor rattan has come a long way in the past few years and you can even buy Lloyd loom style pieces. Personally, I don't like to buy a matching table and chairs, I believe in buying a table you absolutely fall in love with and then buy your chairs in a different material, this adds more interest to your outdoor area. Make sure if you are buying your chairs separately, the seats are the correct height to sit comfortably at your table. Sometimes older up-cycled chairs have lower seats than today's models.

To help plan my outdoor area, first I collect images to inspire me, whether a touch of Morocco, French or or funky, gather your images to see which style will work for you. Once you have found your mood, then you can organise your board either  using the computer or cutting and pasting from magazines.  Shackletons have a wide range of outdoor furniture and I have incorporated some of their pieces in my mood board. Whether you like contemporary resin, traditional teak, or outdoor rattan you will find everything you could possibly want on their website. Remember outdoor entertainment areas these days should be treated as extension of your indoor living, therefore don't forget to accessorise your area just as you would the inside of your house. Candles, hurricane lamps, bright coloured cushions can help create an outdoor room and little touches add to the story you are telling.

Another important factor to your outdoor area is foliage, landscaping  would take up a completely new post, I am talking about adding some large pots and suitable plants. For example, if you are going with a Mediterranean theme you could add some large terracotta pots with lemon trees, Fig trees also look wonderful in pots and Bougainvillea or Wisteria can look stunning cascading down from a pergola. These are just a couple of ideas.

I found it hard to narrow down one design I liked, I love all of the above, however, as I live near to the beach and I live with a fairly neutral indoor palette, I decided to choose a coastal theme using my favourite blue and white colour scheme...

1. 4 Seasons Toledo Round Parasol
2. Bridgman Mayfair 2 seater sofa
3. Bridgman Mayfair Modular Round Coffee Table - Glass top
4. Neptune Bordeaux 290cm Rectangular Table                  
5. Outdoor Chef Gas Kettle Barbecue - Ascona Blue        
6. Bridgman Mayfair Dining Armchair

Items above can be found at Shackletons (link above)

If this isn't quite your style and you want to see more outdoor ideas, please visit my Pinterest board where you can find lots of colourful ideas.

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