CREATE YOUR OWN SUNNY SANCTUARY; Make the warmer weeks even more special, outdoors and in, with these fun ideas from GABRIELLE FAGAN.
oing away on holiday is lovely, but there's nothing nicer than enjoying sunny days at home (no packing, flight delays or crowds to contend with).
GSo why not turn your home into it's own supersummer destination by creating a desert-inspired setting, perhaps even an outdoor cinema, beautiful balcony, and children's play area? Here's how to do it...
Small Yuha Cactus PS85, Abigail Ahern/ EDITION at Debenhams HOTHOUSE STYLE Even if the weather's changeable, you can turn up the heat at home with decor inspired by the dessert and tropical zones.
"I am obsessed with cacti, so I jumped at the chance of creating my own collection," says designer, Abigail Ahern (abigailahern.com).
"My new botanicals range at Debenhams is desert-inspired and I've been playing with scale, which is one of my trademarks, and the result is these fabulous jumbosized faux cacti. I have them everywhere in my London home, because they really add instant 'wow' factor and are a great way to add colour, intrigue and texture to rooms."
Staghorn yuha cactus pearls BALCONY BOOST Just a few stylish additions can transform even a tiny patio or balcony into an outdoor haven...
"There's a knack to al fresco living when space is limited and you're confined to a balcony - all it takes is a little creativity," says Claudia Roberts, co-owner of new furnishings and fashion brand Pignut (pignut.co.uk).
"Comfort is key. A fleece-back floor blanket will provide extra padding, as will floor cushions - think 'hygge' for the great outdoors.
"Choose box cushions with handles, oil-coated tablecloths, and fake it with fabrics - introduce colour and even wildlife with animal or bird prints, and gaily patterned bunting."
TIP: Liven up a balcony wall or railings with hanging pots and window boxes. Crocus (crocus.co.uk) has a brilliant selection.
MOVIE ZONE Bring Hollywood into the garden with your own outdoor movie theatre...
"The simple pleasures of entertaining family and friends on a summer evening doesn't need to be complicated or expensive to be truly epic," says Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Cuprinol (cuprinol.co.uk).
"By day, a fence is just a fence, but by night, with the addition of a plain white sheet, it can transform into a cinema screen. Add a string of lights, a wooden pallet or two, some old cane furniture, throw a few rugs down, and you can view in style."
TIP: Ramp up the 'big screen' effect with an American Originals Popcorn Maker, PS19.99, Argos (argos.co.uk), and pin up a couple of movie posters.
PLAY AND DISPLAY Create a special corner for children to encourage their imaginations.
"A family garden should be fun, versatile, and practical and kids love a corner in it that they can make their own," says Marianne Shillingford.
"This can also be a brilliant way to brighten up a neglected area. Transform a fence into a sunny-skies outlook by using Cuprinol's Misty Lake and then, when dry, create the clouds. With chalk, draw a cloud outline onto a piece of card then cut out to create a template. Position your template on the fence and draw around it with chalk. Fill in the cloud shapes with a small paint brush and White Daisy paint. You will need two coats.
"Get a carpenter to fit a bench seat or use an old toy chest or wooden boxes."
TIP: Fill a couple of small crates with sand and tiny plants, which can be a mini-landscape for model figures or animals."