8 ideas for outdoor entertaining

Want to take the party outside? A trestle table and some picnic chairs no longer cut it when it comes to outdoor entertaining. Instead we look at the latest ideas for barbecues, patio planning and even outdoor bars – essential for hosts who want to make the most of every warm evening.

1. Open up the kitchen to the terrace

Todd Doors French Doors

If you don’t already have a kitchen that opens up to the garden then this is a great place to start. Folding-sliding doors can replace part of or even a whole wall if you kitchen is next to your garden. They will not only make it easy to open up the whole room in good weather, and to carry food between the two spaces, but they’ll also hugely increase light levels all year round. One great tip is to keep the floor level and material the same inside and out – it will blur the borders of each space – and stop you tripping over with a platter full of food.

2. Install an outdoor cook zone

Image from Ikea

The serious chef won’t be content with crouching over a disposable barbeque. Instead consider installing a full-on outdoor cook zone with a gas-fired outdoor grill. Big appliance brands like Wolf have created steel grills with pull-down lids that can be installed on a patio with workspace around and perform so well that you may never persuade the barbeque king in your life back inside the kitchen.

3. Merge indoors with out

Image from Ikea

One architect-designed solution that we’ve seen in a number of properties is to run a stone or concrete kitchen counter right out through the glass wall to continue across the terrace. A visually elegant idea, this elongates the lines of the kitchen, maximising the feeling of space. The worktop needs to be a very durable material, but cast concrete is ideal – you can include an outdoor sink for keeping a stock of ice close to hand!

4. Create space on a roof terrace

You don’t necessarily have to have a garden to enjoy some al-fresco entertaining. A balcony or roof terrace can be equally good for an impromptu party. Try transforming the space into an urban oasis by adding some fake grass – increasingly acceptable in even the smartest gardens – and adding some built-in wooden seating around the edges. This can double up to store cushions and rugs below and make the most of even a small space outdoors.

5. Add colour pops with a barbecue

Image from Ikea

Roll-out barbeques are a more affordable alternative to a permanent outdoor kitchen, and the designs look great. Go for a sturdy model in a bright colour that can co-ordinate with your other outdoor accessories, but that’s small and light enough to be tucked in the shed over the long winter.

6. Add a bar

As with the idea of extending your kitchen counter above, a concrete bar area with sink and tap would make a perfect place to enjoy an al-fresco cocktail. Alternatively a garden shed or summerhouse could be turned into a bar with a little fridge, some fairy lights, and a fold-down wooden bar area at the window. Just add a line of metal bar stools and watch your friends invite themselves over every weekend.

7. Raise a canopy

Love to dine outside but not keen on the dash indoors mid-course when the rain comes on? Such are the perils of the Great British Summer. Erecting a simple triangular canopy in a tough, waterproofed canvas over your outdoor dining area can be the perfect solution. Supported either by metal poles or by tethering to trees or a shed roof, this is a low-cost way of extending the summer. Just add a warm jumper.

 8. Build a pizza oven

If your passion is for something more rustic than a standard barbeque then why not go Continental and build an outdoor pizza oven. Online tutorials are available, or employ the skills of a local builder. The cave-shaped oven is open to the front, meaning you get the extra pleasure of an open fire to gaze into – and warm your hands on when the wind gets up.