Features: May '11

Trend Watch: Oriental

by Meg Lucas on May 30, 2011
Dries Van Noten, Spring/Summer 2011, www.elle.com

Infuse your home with Eastern influence by channelling the Oriental trend.

Forget gaudy combinations of red and gold often associated with questionable Chinese restaurants; these days the Oriental trend draws influence from a range of sources to give stylish and workable interiors inspiration. Comprising Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean traditions, amongst others, Asian style has been identifiable as an influence of Western décor for centuries. The ball and claw foot, for example, was inspired by a Chinese motif, and small touches like this are ideal for adding subtle Oriental references to your home.

Asian design has a heavy focus on texture and is often either smooth and shiny, for example lacquered wood, or highly tactile like bamboo, raw silk, paper and jute. This striking set of Rectangular Lacquer Boxes from OKA make a perfect Oriental inspired storage solution, and are a great contrast against rougher textures and muted colours. Plus red is the colour of good luck and happiness in China!

Cushions are perfect for adding an Eastern feel to a bedroom or living room. Opt for luxurious silks hand printed using traditional techniques for an opulent feel, such as Clarrisa Hulse’s Potentilla Chilli and Zinc Silk Cushion from Heal’s. Alternatively try this ginkgo leaf inspired Florence Broadhurst Japanese Floral Cushion from John Lewis.

Whilst sumptuous silks may not be appropriate for the floor, there are plenty of Asian inspired rugs. This Calvin Klein Lustre Wash Rug from John Lewis, has a special lustre wash that gives it an subtle patina reminiscent of Oriental watercolours, and is handcrafted from soft New Zealand lambswool.

side table
Cube Side Table, £350, Orchid Furniture.

Orchid Furniture is a fantastic place to look for Eastern inspired contemporary furniture. They stock a wide range of dark wood furniture with simple lines and an uncluttered appearance, such as this Bedside Cabinet, constructed from mid-brow American walnut for an elegant appearance. Another contemporary take on the Oriental trend comes in the form of the Vitra Butterfly Stool from Utility. Designed by Sori Yanagi, the Butterfly Stool blends Eastern shapes with the plywood shaping technique developed by Charles and Ray Eames and comes in two finishes – Maple plywood or Palisander plywood.

Whilst black and red are synonymous with Oriental décor, the look can be achieved more subtly through the use of neutrals and muted Asian inspired paint colours, such as jade greens and bluish greys. These colours provide a more modern feel and create striking contrast against dark wood or lacquered furniture. Screens elaborately painted with Chinese inspired scenes are another way to bring Eastern inspiration to wall spaces, but a more minimalist effect can be achieved with this Cocostick Screen from Puji. Beautiful as well as functional, it can be used as a room divider or to add interest to a drab corner of the room.

Sapporo Cushion, £35, ALSO Home.

Perhaps the easiest way to add an Oriental feel to your home is through accessories. Lanterns are synonymous with Eastern culture, but this Chinoiserie Lampshade from OKA, hand painted with antiqued Chinese scenes on a dark background, is an understated way to channel the trend in just about any setting. Alternatively opt for traditional Oriental materials, with contemporary functional uses, such as this Bamboo Hang On Magnetic Memo Board from Heal’s. Tea is an ancient Eastern tradition, so naturally kitchenware is also an ideal way to add some Oriental influence. Japanese porcelain has been imported into Europe for centuries, much of which came from Arita/Imari, in Nagasaki. We love this Small Japanese Porcelain Teapot and Set of 4 Japanese Porcelain Tea Cups, from Lemonlu London. This range of porcelain comes from nearby Hasami and the designs are taken from Edo-Komon, elaborately dyed kimono fabric.

With any luck this selection of Eastern influenced products will have provided some ideas about how the Oriental trend can be worked into your home in a subtle and stylish way. So even if you don’t have a luxury holiday to Asia booked this summer, you can still be surrounded by the opulent simplicity of Oriental décor in your own home.

Buyers Guide to Wallpaper

by Mica Kelly on May 23, 2011
Barneby Gates Deer Damask Wallpaper, £75, Rockett St George

Brighten up your walls with this fabulous guide to using wallpaper in your home.


Before you begin to wallpaper, it is important that you take accurate measurements of the walls you want to paper to work out how much you will need. It’s also a good idea to check that the batch numbers or codes on each role are the same, as there can be slight variations in shades and patterns depending on the time of manufacturing.

Once you’re ready to begin make sure that all furniture is removed from the room, of course this is not always possible but it will make your job a lot easier when manoeuvring on a ladder, and spread dustsheets over the floor to protect them. If you are wallpapering the ceiling then it is also advisable to remove any light fittings which might cause an obstacle. Finally, if there is existing wallpaper on your walls then this must be removed using warm water and a scraping knife to strip the wallpaper away; alternatively, buy or hire a steamer which will do most of the hard work for you! If there are any holes on the surface of the wall then use some plaster filler to create a smooth surface.

Installing it

Learning to wallpaper can seem like a daunting task but if you perfect the skill of hanging then you can create a professional finish easily, without the cost of hiring in an expert to do the work for you. To work out how long you should cut each piece of wallpaper, measure the height of your wall and then add on four or five extra inches. This way you can neatly trim the bottom of the wallpaper as it reaches the skirting board for tidy finish. Mix your wallpaper paste following the manufacturer’s instructions and coat the strips of paper evenly and generously to prevent peeling; you will need a pasting table to do this.

Carefully fold the piece of wallpaper, concertina style, to make it easier to handle when hanging up. Generally, it is best to hang the first piece in the corner of a room where joining seams will be less noticeable. Hang the paper from the top of the wall and use a paste brush from the centre of the piece towards the edge to prevent bubbles from forming. Don’t rush; if you have soaked the wallpaper well then there is plenty of time to work on each piece and prevent mistakes. Repeat this process, considering that you will need to match the pattern with the previous piece depending on your choice of wallpaper.

Westwood wallpaper, £128.17, BODIE and FOU


Wallpaper is a quick and easy way of adding pattern into your home, and with so many patterns, colours and textures to choose from there is sure to be something for everyone’s tastes. This gorgeously luxurious damask wallpaper from Barneby Gates, uses a gold stag skull and thistle pattern on a duck egg blue background for a contemporary twist on the traditional damask style pattern. Similarly, this stunning westwood wallpaper from Bodie and Fou uses a baroque inspired serpentine design with a colourful punk inspired twist.

Patterned wallpaper is also a great idea for children, as it can add some real excitement to their bedroom. 95% Danish have some great options that are extremely durable with a wipe clean surface; perfect for sticky fingers!

Family Tree Wallpaper, £59, Rose & Grey

Using two wallpapers together

By mixing and matching two wallpapers within the same room it is possible to create a range of stunning effects; if you’re feeling brave then mix two clashing patterns for a bold statement, or if you prefer a more subtle finish then choose a daring print for one key wall and a wallpaper with a smaller intricate pattern to complement.

This striking tree print wallpaper from Rose & Grey has a wonderfully quirky feel that would look great hung on a feature wall with a plain or embossed wallpaper to complement it. If you prefer a more retro inspired look to your interiors then why not try clashing two bold prints. This kitsch floral wallpaper from Rose & Grey takes its inspiration from the print of a vintage fabric, and the mustard yellow base harks back to the 1960’s. Clash with another floral print, or another bold colour like this retro turquoise wallpaper from Oliver Bonas.

Wallpaper is an incredibly versatile and stylish way of updating your home and creating an impact. Although the techniques needed for a professional finish are often perceived as being fiddly and, let’s face it, a bit too much like hard work; our handy tips should help to take the hassle out of hanging and have you wallpapering like a pro in no time!

Interview: Annick L Petersen

by Mica Kelly on May 22, 2011
Circular rug with stitched writing, price on request, alp.

We interview interior architect, designer and owner of Alp, Annick L Petersen.

Swiss born interior architect, Annick L Petersen, runs design studio Alp from her base in London. Having worked in residential, hotel and furniture design for more than 15 years, Annick now designs a contemporary range of furniture and accessories that combine functionality and classic style as well as offering a full interior design service.

We caught up with Annick to find out the inspiration behind Alp, and what’s next for the studio…

What made you decide to create the brand and what was your first design?

It started when I was looking for a coffee table for our living room and couldn’t find what I was looking for, so decided to design one and my husband and I built it. It was the rectangle coffee table with storage for remote controls and magazines.

Where do you take influence from when designing your range?

I mainly design for myself, create furniture, lighting, rugs, etc that I would like to have in my home. I also love Indian design and patterns. I have recently visited Rajasthan and the architecture of forts and Maharaja’s palaces were the most beautiful. The intricate marble or wood carvings, patterns, fabric and colours were just amazing. I get inspired by these patterns for my cushion designs at the moment.

Do your Swiss roots have a part to play in the functional and contemporary style of the range?

I am not sure if it is due to my Swiss roots, but I do like simple lines for furniture and if possible some sort of storage. I suppose the Villa Le Lac by Le Corbusier and Jeanneret in Vevey where I grew up was an early influence for me as I visited it a few times. It is a small and simple house that Le Corbusier built for his parents in 1924.

coffee table
Coffee table with 2 drawers and 1 box storage, price on request, alp.

You use fairly ornate prints on your soft furnishings. How do you feel this works within the simplicity of the Alp range?

I love intricate patterns and calligraphy for small items like cushions. I think it gives a good balance with the simple lines of the rest of the range. It is good to mix different styles together.

How does Alp fit in with today’s style obsession with shabby chic furnishing, and a more is more approach to accessorising?

Alp has a wide range of cushions, with new designs coming soon inspired by my trip to India.

What draws you to contemporary/minimal interior design?

It is peaceful on the eye and the mind and you don’t tire of it. I enjoy simple lines in interiors but also mixed with different styles. I don’t think it should all be minimal as it would create quite a sterile environment.

Where does your passion for interior design come from?

I wanted to do something creative from a young age, hesitating between graphic design and interior design. I loved the idea of creating new spaces and making people happy in their environment, being at home, work or travelling.

What do you enjoy about designing interiors for other people’s homes?

You have to listen to your client’s needs and then suggest ideas, which they might not have thought of. When the project is done, seeing your client enjoying their new environment, is very satisfying.

What is your thought process when creating a space for others?

Take into consideration all your clients’ needs and requests and then come up with a solution that will satisfy them and yourself too.

Mirror, price on request, alp.

How do you work with your clients to ensure you are creating a space they will enjoy?

It is a close relationship between the client and myself with a lot of meetings and discussions.

Do you prefer designing your product range or designing interiors?

I really enjoy doing both, they both bring me a lot of fulfilment.

What current home interior trends are you inspired by?/What is your favourite home furnishing brand?

I really enjoy the mixture of natural wood finish and lacquer finish as used in my console tables and I have a new product coming up soon following that style. I like Tom Dixon’s work, we have his Jack Light, which I still love after all these years. He is always coming up with interesting new designs and materials. I also like the Bouroullec brothers, we have their Algue which has a great 3 dimensional texture. Their designs have beautiful shapes.

What is your personal style at home?

At home, I have a mixture of my pieces, a few designer items, some finds from our travels and markets, some pieces from my grandparents house in Switzerland, so it is very relevant to me and my family.

How would you sum up the Alp style?

The alp style is contemporary, elegant and functional with a bit of fun.

What plans do you have to develop the brand in future?

We have just opened a showroom in Camden, which is great to view the alp range. I am working on new projects for furniture, rugs, soft furnishing, which should be ready soon.

You can find out more about Alp, including the range and Annick’s services, by visiting www.alp-design.co.uk.

Trend Watch: Folk

by Mica Kelly on May 17, 2011
Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 2011, www.redonline.co.uk

Get your home ready for festival season with a touch of folk.

With Summer feeling like its already arrived, it’s time to dig out those ditsy floral print dresses, dishevelled denim waistcoats and cosy fringed ponchos ready for festival season! But, if spending the weekend up to your knees in mud and sleeping in a damp tent isn’t your idea of fun then worry not as this trend can work just as well in your home. Think fringed throws, embroidered rugs and colourful lanterns for adding that touch of folk to your interior.

Look for throws in deep autumnal colours to scatter across armchairs, or drape at the foot of the bed, to create a laid back bohemian feel. This gorgeous paisley throw from OKA uses lovely rustic colours for a vintage inspired finish, and it’s made from 100% wool; perfect for snuggling under when the summer nights turn chilly!

This lovely lambswool folk blanket from Primrose & Plum also follows the vintage theme with the lovely border detail inspired by traditional Swedish carvings. In keeping with the eco-friendly folk ethos, the blanket has also been responsibly sourced and produced with care for the environment by not using any harsh pesticides or harmful chemicals.

Ultimate Paisley Throw, £149, OKA

Stripped floorboards work really well within the home when creating a folk inspired look, but it’s lovely to introduce some colour to your flooring with the addition of a rug. This quirky ribbon rug from Plumo is made from woven recycled ribbon strips for a beautiful mix of colours, and has lovely tassel detailing along the edge for a real arts and crafts feel. Plumo can also customise rugs to your specific colour preferences.

OKA is a great brand to consider if you are looking for a high quality rug with an antique feel, as they have a great range of colours and styles available. This cimkent rug from OKA is made from 100% wool for long lasting quality, and the deep earthy red colour gives it a timeless quality that is sure to look stunning in any setting.

Mixing and matching different colours and textures is the best way to create an authentic folk feel in your home. If you have selected a fairly rich colour palette for your rugs and throws then a great way of lifting the trend is to add a colourful selection of cushions. These mexican bird cushions from Plumo are beautifully bright, using lovely embroidered patterns of birds and flowers with colourful fringing and tassels for a lovely handcrafted feel.

Choosing cushions with embroidered patterns really helps to add a vintage feel to your soft furnishings, and helps to make your home feel unique. The bright colours of this embroidered folk cushion really add a contemporary twist to the style, and contrasts beautifully with the very traditional pattern of the stitched detail.

outdoor lighting
Little lanterns (2 assorted), £17.95, Plumo

Don’t forget accessories for adding the perfect finishing touches to this trend. Candles and lanterns are the perfect folk accessory as they help to recreate the warm glow of a bonfire inside your living room. These Fairtrade painted lanterns from Plumo come in an assortment of gorgeous colours with a variety of pretty floral detailing. Add tealights and dot them around your home, or even in the garden for your own mini festival! This candle lantern from Habitat is another great lighting option, and uses a wire frame wrapped in recycled magazine paper for an unusual design feature.

Finally, we couldn’t resist taking a look at this stunning pitcher and mug duo from Plumo, which would add an authentically rustic feel to your kitchen. The red clay tableware is made by local artisans using traditional methods, and is glazed in traditional Romanian folk patterns; a genuine touch of folk.

Hopefully, this fabulous selection of products has provided you with the inspiration to mix and match the accessories in your home this season for a wonderfully authentic take on the folk trend; and with a few cosy throws and some twinkling lanterns you can enjoy watching the festival coverage from the comfort of your sofa!

Buyer's Guide to outdoor lighting

by Mica Kelly on May 11, 2011
outdoor lighting
Rusty Metal Hurricane Lamp, £24.95, Nordic House

Illuminate your outside space with this handy guide to the best outdoor lighting

When adding the finishing touches to our interiors, lighting is one of the most important considerations. Most of us will spend hours choosing the perfect light fittings, finding gorgeous lamps to fill dark corners and adding cosy candles to the dinner table. Yet, many people completely forget about lighting one of the most important areas of the home; the outside space. Whether you have acres of land or just a tiny balcony making sure your outdoor space is given the treatment it deserves.


It is really important to plan properly for new lighting additions to your outdoor space to ensure that you create a unique living area that is accessible after dark. Safety-wise, consider which areas it is crucial to light well; stairs and pathways may benefit from some brighter lighting options, for instance. When it comes to more decorative lighting think about what sort of atmosphere you wish to create; colourful fairy lights are perfect for creating a fun sociable atmosphere, whilst lanterns will help to create a much more intimate feel. Most importantly, ensure that all lighting is waterproof, and any additions which are not low voltage should be installed by a qualified electrician.

Candle lighting

Adding a few candle lit lanterns and pretty tea lights to your garden is the quickest and most effective way of creating a warm and cosy area for relaxing in. These hurricane lamps from Nordic House have a gorgeous rustic finish which means they will look as if they’ve been in your garden for years! Lamps and lanterns are particularly versatile as they can be used as a lovely table centre piece, when dining al fresco, hung from hooks on the patio for effective mood lighting or scattered across decking and pathways for a pretty night time twinkle.

These bamboo lanterns from Garden Trading are perfect for recreating a relaxing holiday atmosphere. The lantern sits on top of a long pole which can be pushed into the lawn or flowerbeds for a quirky way to light your garden.

outdoor lighting
Barn Large Clay Outdoor Wall Light, £52, Heal's

Wall-mounted lighting

Wall lights are a great option if you have limited outside space, as well as being an ideal way to illuminate your porch or the area immediately outside your door. Based on a traditional stable lamp this outdoor wall light from Heal’s would be perfect for lighting an outdoor eating area, and can also be used inside as a porch light or over the back door.

This contemporary style aluminium wall light from Heal’s uses a unique circular design with a glass and aluminium finish, for a sleek and modern addition to the garden.

Path lighting

If you have a path in your garden, or leading to your outside space, it is important to provide some lighting in this are to ensure that you and your guests can move about the space easily and without any risks. However unlike deck lighting, which is usually bedded into the floor, there are plenty of free standing options available for lighting your path which means you can really make a feature of it.

These completely unique tulip lights from Garden Beet will provide a giant pop of colour to your outdoor space, and would look absolutely stunning positioned along a dark pathway. Although they are slightly on the pricey side the tulip lights are a great way of injecting colour into a space that perhaps doesn’t have the luxury of flowerbeds or a lawn, and will certainly make your outside space a real talking point.

These tall oil lamps from Nordic Home, are a touch more subtle in their slate colour scheme but will certainly still make an impact on your path. Available in two sizes, depending on your space requirements, these lamps will look striking in any garden; and with the long lasting nature of oil burning, you can have fun outside for the whole night.

Tulip Light, £499, Garden Beet

Solar lighting

For the eco-conscious amongst you, it might be important to consider the ways to light your outside space using solar or eco-friendly lighting options; and as well as being good for the environment it can often be up to 80% cheaper to run than traditional lighting methods. Solar lights require no electricity as they use specially designed batteries which stores energy from the sun in order to automatically provide soft lighting after dark. There are solar lighting options available at all good DIY stores, such as Homebase but it is important that you position lights in a sunny spot to ensure they acquire enough energy to run in the evening.

There are plenty of great outdoor lighting options to choose from no matter what kind of outside space you have, meaning you can utilise every nook and cranny to make your garden a cosy and intimate, or colourful and sociable, place to be. So dust off those fairy lights and get ready to enjoy the long summer evenings in your new living space!

Quick Shop: Bookcases

by Meg Lucas on May 10, 2011
Have a look at our pick of the best bookcases

Take a look at our library of the best bookcases

I can’t think of anything in the home that gives away the owner’s personality quite as much as their book collection. It’s certainly the first thing my eyes drift to when I’m at a friend’s house - but then I am a self confessed bibliophile. So as well as agonising about what your books are saying about you, make an equally good impression with a well-considered bookcase.

Alongside storing, organising and displaying your tomes and curios, many bookcases are even more multipurpose - try one that is accessible from both sides for a perfect room divider to break up open plan spaces.

Clockwise from left: Missouri Low Shelving Unit, £439, from fashion4home, Reedy Bookcase, £2,262, from Utility, Henry Low Bookcase, £495, from Puji, Edith Shelving Unit by Kay + Stemmer, £320-£400, from Heal’s, Kartell Modular Bookshelf, £864, from A White Room, Bric A Brac Oak Shelving Unit, £1,295, from Heal’s, Hinged Low Shelving Unit by Leonhard Pfeifer, £495, from Heal’s, Chateau Small Open Bookcase, £230, from The Orchard, Shoreditch Industrial Narrow Bookcase on Wheels, £495, from Alexander and Pearl.

Focus on Pattern: Retro

by Mica Kelly on May 08, 2011
bed linen
Orla Kiely Stripe Petal Duvet Covers, £60, John Lewis

Step back in time with our guide to making retro patterns work in your home.

Seek inspiration from the past when choosing patterns for your home for a touch of cosy nostalgia or a quirky twist on contemporary design. Think pretty polka dots for a hint of 1950’s kitsch, psychedelic floral prints for a funky 1960’s inspired interior or bold blocks of colour for a touch of 1970’s glamour. Whatever your decade of choice, we’ll show you how to turn the clock back to create a timeless home that you’re sure to love forever.


A funky duvet cover can transform your bed into a dramatic style statement, and the 1960’s seem to be the go-to era for eye catching designs. Orla Kiely is a name synonymous with contemporary pattern design, but her fun floral prints undoubtedly take influence from the wonderful swinging Sixties. This Orla Kiely duvet cover from John Lewis uses a monochrome base with a bold and colourful daisy print for the perfect way to freshen up a dull bedroom.

Continuing with a similar style, a pattern made with one boldly repeated print, this retro elephant bedding from Hunkydory Home will look gorgeous in a child’s bedroom; the bold red and pink elephants and swirling floral pattern are sure to brighten up early school mornings.


Choose one bold stunning piece of retro furniture to set against more contemporary pieces, for a quirky take on pattern rather than creating an exact replica of homes from a bygone era. This gorgeous upholstered chair from Graham & Green uses an iconic 1950’s chair design with an almost 1970’s inspired colourful fabric to create a funky statement piece that transcends decades.

For a fun flashback to the 1960’s, this globe chair from Lover’s Lounge is a fantastic replica of the iconic 1960’s design by acclaimed designer Eero Aarnio, and is the perfect place to curl up and relax after all that disco dancing.

For a more subtle take on retro design, this home desk from Utility has been created to replicate the shape of a classic ladies desk, but with retro design features for a contemporary update. The sleek chrome legs and colourful compartment separators contrasts beautifully with the classic walnut frame; this would make a welcome addition to any home office.

50's Suzani Fabric Upholstered Chair, £495, Graham & Green


Take inspiration from the 1980’s craze for slogans, by adding a bold doormat to your entrance. This retro doormat from Utility uses a natural background with the word ‘HOME’ boldly printed across it for a dramatic welcome home.

If you prefer to take the more colourful approach when decorating your floorboards then get hippy chic with this colourful love rug from The Plantation Rug Company. With bold colours and swirling paisley prints this rug is sure to bring the vibrant festival feeling into your home


Update your walls with some boldly patterned wallpaper that will transform your home into a stylish retro pad. This stunning fifi wallpaper from John Lewis is a replica of an original 1950’s Sanderson print with a cute design depicting the hourglass silhouette of the era, pioneered by Christian Dior; this is definitely one for a fashion obsessive!

If music’s more your thing, then this cassette print wallpaper from BODIE and FOU uses hand drawn designs for a truly retro style that will create a cool and quirky statement wall for your teenagers.

Sanderson Fifi Wallpaper, £29, John Lewis


Add the perfect finishing touches to your home with some cool retro accessories. Wake up in style with this classic alarm clock from Bloomsbury that uses the traditional bell top design for a stunning way to start the day.

Brighten up your kitchen with these gorgeous polka dot tins from Lover’s Lounge will keep your tea and coffee fresh while adding a touch of kitsch to your worktops.

If you prefer your kitchen accessories to be more chic, then you’re sure to love this sophisticated 1940’s glass bowl from Serendipity Street. It’s gorgeous cut glass detail means it’s sure to make a real statement on your dining table.

Retro patterns are a hugely versatile way of introducing print to the home, as style varies so widely across the decades. Choose an era that you love and add statement pieces of furniture and hints of pattern from this time for a quick and stylish way of updating your contemporary interior. For braver individuals, why not try mixing matching styles and patterns from across the years for a wonderfully quirky way of making a bold impact in your home. However you decide to turn back the time in your home, have fun experimenting!

The Buyer’s Guide to Garden Furniture

by Meg Lucas on May 03, 2011
garden table
Foldaway Garden Table and Chairs , £110, from Graham & Green

Whether you have a postage stamp patio or ample acreage, smarten up your garden with our Buyer’s Guide to Garden Furniture.

The consecutive sunny Bank Holidays have got us thinking about our gardens. With so much focus on interiors it is easy to forget that, clement weather permitting, the garden really is an extra room of your home. Whether you consider it as an extra dining space or just somewhere to recline, relax and watch the clouds go by; we’ve compiled this helpful guide to help you find the perfect furniture for your garden.

Planning and space

There is plenty to think about before deciding on outdoor furniture. Consider what look you want to achieve; a cottage style garden may seem a natural fit for traditional wooden furniture, but a striking look could be achieved by playing with modern designs and textures. The smooth surface of the Bubble Garden Chair Range from Heal’s, would lend a contemporary feel to a country garden whilst reflecting the plants around it.

Think about how you want your furniture to function and how this might affect its placement. In a typical British summer you may want to avoid positioning outdoor furniture in areas that are predominantly shaded, so work out if there is a suitable surface in sunnier spots, as some garden furniture requires hard standing.

A final factor to consider is storage. If space is limited, or depending on your choice of material, your garden furniture may need to be stored when not in use. If you do not have suitable internal storage opt for weatherproof materials or think about folding or stacking furniture.

Wooden tables and chairs

Wood garden furniture is the perfect choice if you want a more organic, tactile look and furniture that will acquire character as it weathers and ages. Choose hardwoods with naturally high oil content, such as teak, cumaru and eucalyptus, as this makes them weather resistant. Best of all wooden furniture can be left outside all year round and washing once a year with soapy water is usually sufficient to remove algae and pollution.

John Lewis has a wide selection of wooden garden furniture approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, making them an environmentally responsible choice so you can make your garden even greener. The Verona Outdoor chair from John Lewis have an almost 1930s appeal, constructed from hardy dark stained eucalyptus in an attractive curved shape.

Ami Ami Chair, Tokujin Yoshioka for Kartell from John Lewis, £137-£274

Resin tables and chairs

Synthetic resin furniture is often categorised as the budget option, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. Resin gained popularity for its strength and weather resistance, but it is also an ideal material for moulding unusual shapes and textures. The driade tokyo pop stool from A White Room, is made using monobloc polyethylene and is available in a range of neutral colours that make us think they would look rather enchantingly fungi-like dotted around a modern garden.

Plastics needn’t only be contemporary however, as demonstrated by the charming stone effect Corinthian Round Dining Table from Sweetpea and Willow.

Woven tables and chairs

Whilst natural wicker and rattan is appealingly tactile and traditional, it does not make for the most hardwearing of outdoor furniture. However if you want the texture and feel of rattan but with added weather resistance, try the Sublime 2 Seater Canape garden chair from Sweetpea and Willow, which is constructed using traditional craftsmanship methods and a 100% recyclable synthetic fibre.

Eucalyptus Rocker Lounger, £199, from John Lewis

Loungers and Sun beds

If you want to make the most of the summer rays, invest in a couple of loungers or sun beds. If you’re serious about comfort, the Bikeezy Flow Lounger from Occa Home is a great option and best of all it is maintenance free leaving more time for, well, lounging. The elegantly shaped Alanda Black Lounger from Sweetpea and Willow would look striking in both contemporary and classic style gardens.

Alternatively, if you want more flexibility opt for an adjustable sun bed. Many designs, such as the Mallorca Garden Lounger from Heal’s, have adjustable backrest and leg rest angles and the Mallorca Garden Lounger even has a handy drinks table.

Ideas for small gardens

If you have less space, but still like the idea of alfresco dining this summer, the Plus 4 Garden Furniture Range by John Jenkins for Heal’s may be just the thing. If you aren’t keen on stacking plastic or folding chairs, these chairs have all the solid appeal of wooden outdoor furniture but nest neatly around the table when not in use, taking up just over a tiny 1m2 of space.

A small garden doesn’t mean you are limited to chairs. Even the smallest of suntraps could house the Indian Summer Floral Sun Lounger from The Contemporary Home, which folds into a beach bag sized rectangle.

Another option when you’re pushed for space is a bench. Simple modern styles allow plants to grow around and beneath them, allowing you to recess the bench into flowerbeds to maximise space. The Foras Outdoor Benches from John Lewis come in a range of sizes from 100cm to 180cm.

Stacking garden furniture

If folding furniture seems a little flimsy for your needs, but you want an easy storage solution, look into stacking furniture. The Gloster Roma Stacking Outdoor Chair from John Lewis is made from powder coated aluminium, making it very lightweight and rust resistant so an ideal candidate to be stacked in a spare corner of the garden when not in use.

Deck chairs

If none of the above ideas have captured your imagination we may have just the thing – the ultimate in flat pack furniture. If you want something practical (for lounging with a book in one hand and a Pimms in the other…) then there is nothing more quirkily British than the deck chair. With a staggering choice of bright yet durable fabrics, in just about every design you could want, the deck chair is the ultimate opportunity to inject your personality into the often forgotten extra room of your home. Drop a hint to the fickle summer sunshine with Rockett St George’s ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Deckchair.

So fingers tightly crossed for a barbeque summer, and if all else fails make sure you also invest in the ultimate in garden furniture…a water repellent parasol, such as the Quadrant Parasol from Heal’s!