While it might seem contradictory to suggest moving more of your life outdoors when the current temperatures outside are so extreme, what we are really suggesting is more nuanced. Sure, you won’t want to be living al fresco in the full heat of the afternoon sun, but for much of the summer it can still be more pleasant – and cooler – to shift certain areas of your life outside. Our ethos is all about getting that indoor/outdoor balance right for you, depending on your available outside space, and to be flexible enough to adjust your plans day by day, and even hour by hour. 

The Outdoor Kitchen

Chances are that you already have some kind of basic al fresco cooking option – even if it’s just a small barbecue or table grill. That’s a good starting point and should inspire you to think about how this initial set-up could be expanded upon. If money is no object, then you could consider constructing some kind of grand brick-built outdoor kitchen complete with all the modern gadgets to cook, chill or pour your summer treats and tipples.

However, if (like us) you’re on a budget, then it pays to get creative and think of cheaper or improvised solutions. Your aim should be to embrace extra cooking options, as even the sacred summer BBQ can get tedious after a while. You’ll also want some outdoor prep space to create more elaborate meals, plus a surface to prepare and serve cold drinks.

If you want to splash out, then a combined wood-burning pizza oven and barbecue might be your thing, but if your budget is really reduced, then why not build your own cob oven out of little more than earth, sand and straw? It’s fun to make, recyclable and – excuse the pun – dirt cheap. If you don’t believe us, then check out our guide.

Additional prep space can be created with a foldaway table or even just a supersized rustic chopping board to put on your outdoor dining table while you’re still cooking. You could, of course, invest in an exterior sink station and countertop, which can be connected to an outdoor tap. These are typically in stainless steel and often on wheels, which adds to their convenience, but you can get similar functionality from simpler solutions.

If your lottery numbers came up recently or you have prodigious DIY skills, then you may already be planning an extravagant outside bar. That’s all well and good and, no, we won’t turn down an invitation, but you could also complete your budget kitchen with an inexpensive outdoor party cooler to keep your bottles chilled, and use that same foldaway table for prep space as a counter for creating and serving more elaborate cocktails.

Finally, if you’re looking for additional outdoor cooking ideas for this summer, then check out our special article on the subject.

The Outdoor Office

With many companies now offering flexible working arrangements, providing the option for many staff to continue working from home either part-time or even full-time, isn’t it time that we all got even more creative about how and where we work? The experience of lockdown during the pandemic means that most of us will now have our preferred work corner, or even a dedicated study or home office room for the luckier ones. However, you might not have considered taking that work environment outdoors.

Ideally you will want an area with shade so that you don’t have sunlight on your screen, as well as a workspace large enough for your laptop, a few papers and a drink. Given the risk of rain or sudden inclement weather, it’s good to avoid too much cabling; if you can still access your wi-fi and your laptop is charged, then the essentials are covered.

That’s all you need for a quick improvised solution if you just want to catch a few rays, but if you plan on working for a longer period outside, then you should consider your set-up in more detail, as the ergonomics of your workspace will become critical. Garden furniture is all well and good, but not all of it is suitable for sitting upright for a long time. You need to pick items that can fulfil both roles: fit your garden or backyard ambience, but also function well with heavier use. Think solid, generous tables and supportive, waterproof chairs, and you should be fine. 

One extra tip worth considering is to choose a chair and table at the same levels as the ones you use indoors, to trick your body into thinking you’re still at your regular desk. That should help prevent any unexpected backache or other ailments.

Finally, if you’re planning on working outside beyond those last golden days of summer, then you might need to consider investing in your very own global shedquarters. With demand rocketing since the first lockdowns, there is now a dizzying range of models available to suit most needs and budgets.

The Outdoor Lounge

Similar to an outdoor kitchen, this is another relatively simple option to create, as you are essentially just expanding on what you probably already have. If you’ve got some garden furniture and a sun umbrella, and maybe a hammock or two as well, then you’re more than halfway there. 

The trick to creating the ‘outdoor lounge look’ is to mark out a dedicated zone in your garden, then think of the elements of a conventional lounge or living room, and mimic them in an outdoor setting – without going too over the top. You still want to know you’re in a garden, after all.

Our tip is to focus on adding layers of deco elements like weather-resistant outdoor cushions, perhaps an outdoor rug to elevate a drab patio and, above all, lighting. It is lighting that will create the atmosphere when the sun starts to set. Consider tall torches to mark out the perimeter of your lounge area, clusters of scented candles on tables, and as many solar lamps hanging from low branches as you fancy. These will all enhance the mood of you and your guests, while complementing your outdoor setting. A water feature would also add a different element to the mix, should you be feeling ambitious.

If you’re looking for specific items to spark your imagination, then let us guide you with our collection of the coolest outdoor furnishings and accessories.

The Outdoor Bedroom

This might be a surprising suggestion, but if you’ve ever been so tormented by a summer heatwave that you’ve dragged a mattress out onto a balcony or patio in the middle of the night, then you’ll know that desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. In that context, wouldn’t it be nice to plan ahead and have an alternative option that can be quickly set up and which offers considerably more comfort and charm? We’re not saying that you would need or even want this every night in summer, but as an occasional back-up, it’s an appealing option. 

The starting point is a solid base – this could be wooden decking or some other patio or terrace. The next thing is to create an improvised tent frame. This could be an existing pergola, or you could create something cheaply from thick bamboo poles. All you need for privacy is a canvas tarpaulin that can be anchored to the ground, as well as some netting to ward off insects and bugs. If you prefer to sleep under the stars and are protected from prying eyes by tree canopies, then perhaps you won’t even need the roof cover. 

In terms of a bed, you simply need something that can be carried over to your sleeping area with minimum fuss. It could be an inflatable air bed, folding mattresses or whatever works best for you. This is a fun, improvised solution, so what you potentially sacrifice in comfort you will gain in atmosphere, adventure and avoiding the stifling heat indoors. With a minimum of fuss, you can create your very own luxury tented camp – or a pirate village for the kids!

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