I have a small balcony accessed via some arched doors from my living area that is an absolute sun trap, so in the summer months I spend more time here than in the garden. Last year I created a really kitsch miami-pink style space here, which although was fun for one summer, it did not work at all with the living space and felt completely disjointed. This year I really wanted the area to be an extension of my living room as I felt it would work better than as a completely separate area to it. I wanted the furniture to be really good quality, while also fit in with the stylish pieces I had indoors. My living room is a warm blue hue, so when I discovered that Marks & Spencer were focusing on Artisan Blues for Spring/Summer 2018, I just had to check out their Alfresco range of garden furniture and accessories.
My balcony is just a metre and a half wide, so single chairs work better than larger pieces of garden furniture. If you only have a small outdoor space, or an urban balcony, then single furniture items work better than sofas as they allow more free space around them and feel much more fluid. Garden sofas can feel overly heavy for the space and give less flexibility for arrangement. I absolutely love this blue Capri chair from Marks & Spencer with its teak legs, as this gives it such a stylish, mid-century modern look. The rattan seat is spacious and great for lounging back in. As well as blue, this Capri chair is also available in white and an on-trend sandy 'greige' (grey & beige!).
What I think makes the Capri range so special is that the chairs are so sleek-looking they could easily be indoor chairs as well as out. If the weather takes a significant turn for the worst (let's face it, this is Britain) then I have no issues bringing in my Capri chair. Rather than looking like garden furniture stored at the end of my living room, the Capri looks elegant and contemporary and complements my room scheme perfectly:
In the summer I often sit here with friends having a glass of wine in the evening, so it is important that the space has an area to place drinks and snacks. This Lois coffee table is the perfect size and can be used inside and out as it has a powdered coated metal for durability. It's sturdy, but the see-through base means that it does not feel overly chunky or dominating in the small area:
The absolute key to bringing the 'inside out' is to make the outdoor area feel as cosy and homely as possible. Layering the space with textiles like cushions and rugs is the perfect way to create this effect. This striped indoor/outdoor rug is great value at £59 and is much more comforting on the feet that the deck boards underneath it. My dog absolutely loves it and will sunbathe on it all day!
The cushions that I have used on my balcony are part of the new Artisan Blues collection for Marks & Spencer. I can transfer them from my sofa to my balcony as I require. I absolutely love Marks & Spencer cushions and always buy a couple of new ones each year. My Triangle Jacquard cushion from last years collection (so popular the design is back for 2018) always gets comments whenever it features in an Instagram photo on my feed. The quality of the cushion fabric is always so good for the price point. The cushions I've used here on my balcony are the Crescent Chevron Cushion and the Abstract Striped Cushion - both of which are under £20 each!
The best outdoor spaces are ones filled with bright, colourful flowers. As my balcony is such a small space I do not want to take up all the square footage with potted plants, so when entertaining I fill this gorgeous Marks & Spencer Apothecary Vase full of cuttings and place it on the Lois coffee table. This vase is probably the best vase I've found this year. The problem that I have with large vases is that they often always have a really wide neck, which means the large, tall flowers you need to put in it often flop and droop rather than stand to attention. This Apothecary Vase is wide and tall, perfect for larger bouquets, but has a thinner neck, making your display group together in a nice, tidy display:
I'm delighted with my extended living room, it really does feel like we've lengthened the space with an outside area! Plus if there are a few awful weather days this summer, or if I need a couple of extra seats for guests, I know I can bring in the garden furniture and it will fit indoors perfectly without standing out like a sore thumb!
What is your favourite piece from the items I picked? Let me know in the comments section below....
* This is a paid collaboration with Marks & Spencer who invited me to choose a selection of products from their new Spring / Summer outdoor collection to style in my home. I am a lifelong Marks & Spencer shopper and all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.