Summer Fun In Your Backyard

“Hello, I have a little backyard that I’m just dying to make into the perfect place for picnics and parties during the summer, but I’m not quite sure what I want it to look like! I’m looking for small backyard inspiration, any suggestions would be wonderful! Furniture, lights, decor, etc etc.”

I really think the key to having an inviting backyard is a few well-picked items.

You definitely need somewhere for people to sit. I like those crazy old picnic tables with attached seats — they’re a bit more rustic & authentic-looking than a plastic table & slew of chairs. Who knows though, maybe you’d prefer a whole lot of little fake toadstools for people to sit on! Check Ebay (use the specific location tool to find something close to you) & flea markets for outdoor furniture. If you can get your hands on some long 70’s pool chairs, that could be amazing. Most of those come with a squab to lay on — if you’re going to go the whole hog, I suggest having them recovered in a fabric you adore which is fairly hardy. (It needs to be able to handle rain, sunscreen, sweaty bodies, cigarettes & wobbling glasses of alcohol.)

In my experience, most outdoor parties start innocently enough in the afternoon, but end up spilling over into the night-time & early morning fairly easily. When the sun goes down, you need candles! If you bought one of those big wooden picnic tables, put a few candles in the middle (or on one end) & let them drip their wax. I looove the way this looks. Put candles all over the place — little tea-lights or votives in jars around the garden looks gorgeous. The flame reflects against the glass, it’s beautiful, & the jar prevents them from falling over or being blown out by the wind. You might want to invest in some citronella candles to keep bugs away, too. Sometimes they sell huge ones on sticks which you can just push into the ground. Have these near the table, since that’s where most of the people will be.

For extra illumination, fairy lights or lanterns are totally the way to go. Clear white fairy lights strung between braches are among my favourite things in the world, but I found a lot of other amazing lights when I looked around. There are lights encased in little pink silk flowers, pink lanterns, round white lanterns, butterfly fairy lights & silk Chinese party lights. I’m also mad about Moroccan lanterns, which should be hung from trees! I would love to have ALL of these, but it might be overkill!

Buy tea glasses (I like these in red & blue) & a beautiful teapot. Fill it with some kind of punch concoction & have everyone drink it out of the tea glasses. (Always going by “intended use” is such a bore.) Get a magnificent parasol & use it to cast some shade over the table. Blow up big, metallic balloons (or clear ones) & tie them onto tree branches, make a little fort or treehouse, buy a paddling pool. Rent a bubble machine! Tell all your friends to come over — & invite me!

Extra for experts:
Outdoor decorating photos & more
Once Upon A Garden by iVillage
Dream Spaces by iVillage