As we head into the summer months and throw open the windows and doors, having some kind of outdoor living space is the ultimate in alfresco luxury. A place to kick back and relax in, entertain guests and enjoy lunches or barbecues in the sun.

The fact is, even a tiny garden, patio or balcony can be transformed with a bit of creativity into an enticing outdoor living area.

The basics are the furniture and, as with any interior room, it’s important to consider your priorities before buying, such as the size of the area you are looking at, how and when you’ll be using it.  Whether you’ll want to entertain there or just perch there occasionally and watch the world go by?

When it comes to outdoor furniture, look for hard-wearing materials such as concrete, which is great for creating solid, built-in seating that can be topped with cushions.  For non-fixed furniture, consider rust-resistant aluminium, which is durable but easy to move around.

For the upholstery, choosing colours and patterns is the enjoyable bit,  but also consider investing in high-performance fabrics such as marine standard which can withstand everything from UV rays to rain, chlorine and saltwater.

In addition to built-in seating, there are a few other tricks of the trade to try if you want to make the most of a small outdoor space. Try using a large mirror to create the illusion of more space, and a bench with table arms if you can’t accommodate table and chairs.  A fire pit or chiminea will add to the ambience and make it more comfortable to stay outside into the evening, or go for lots of candles in storm lanterns.

Choose fast-climbing plants to create a green ‘wall’ around your outdoor living room and create a feeling of privacy and seclusion.  Include roses and jasmine and some pots of fragrant herbs for maximum relaxation effect.