Outdoor styling tips

Discover our top outdoor styling tips from one of our favourite professional stylists, Elkie Brown.


The Interview

We catch up with top stylist Elkie Brown to get all her top outdoor styling tips to ensure that this summer is your best yet! From setting the mood with designer outdoor lighting to the chicest way to do outdoor dining - discover her top tips below!

Q: How does styling an outdoor space compare to styling an interior?

My approach to styling an outdoor space is very similar to when I’m working on an interior; it’s just another room that happens to be outside! I like to bring items from the inside out; it’s more interesting to mix it up. There are some new fantastic garden products that have an indoor feel and look, like mirrors, rugs and cushions that can be left outdoors.

Q: Where do you start when pulling together an outdoor look?

I start with deciding what is required of the outside space: is it a chill out space or a place for entertaining and dining al fresco, is it for the kids or a retreat from the house? Then I assess the space that’s available and treat it almost exactly like an interior.

Outdoor styling - Cacoon Bonsai hammock

Q: How do you work with the existing colours, materials and plants when you are styling an outside space?

Every outside space is so different, some have a very defined look and it may be about embracing that look while others are almost like blank canvases and you can bring what you want to them. A fantastic tree means you can hang lights, chandeliers and lanterns from it while a covered area can make a fantastic low seating chill-out area. I also like to paint plain fences to turn them into a focal point.

Q: If people are only looking to add a couple of key pieces to their outdoor spaces, what would you suggest they went for?

Good outdoor lighting. Invest in warm festoon or fairy lights and string them over tables, along fences or in trees. It’s always a magical moment when the sun sets and you get the warm glow of lights!

Outdoor styling - Cushions and throws are also wonderful for bringing some softness and cosiness to the outdoor space. Make a statement with bright, fun florals, black and white stripes and geometric prints, or go for a softer look with pretty textured linens.

An iron brazier or chimenea is also a wonderful addition, there’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire and the warm glow makes your evenings longer and extends the summer into autumn – marshmallows optional!

Outdoor styling - designer fire pits

Q: Are there any key trends that can be worked into outdoor spaces this summer?

I’m embracing the monochrome Scandic trend in the garden by mixing natural elements like wood, linen and marble on the table and brass beaten lanterns and tea light holders clustered on trays. Plant-wise I’ll be filling pots with succulents and long silvery grasses.

Q: What are your fail-safe outdoor styling tips that never go out of style?

1. Candle light - Use large lanterns, tea lights and hurricane vases.
2. Old terracotta or zinc planters
3. Pots of herbs
4. Fairy lights
5. Big baskets you can fill with cushions and throws.

Q: The good weather has really inspired us to do some al fresco entertaining – how do you like to style your outdoor tables? Are there any key colours, materials etc that you’re drawn to?

For me al fresco entertaining is all about sharing food around a long table. I love lots of candlelight in candelabras, jam jars and lanterns running down the length of the table and pots of rosemary plants or flowers picked from the garden. For outside dinnerware I like chunky stoneware plates in white, small French tumblers for wine, tea towels used as napkins, large wooden sharing boards and zinc buckets filled with ice for wine and beer. When outside I’m drawn to natural tones and materials but I might introduce a pop of colour with fluorescent candles or patterned tea towel napkins.

Outdoor styling - al fresco table ideas

Q: What can people add to their gardens to get them summer party ready?

I love creating an outside bar as it becomes the outside kitchen and the hub of the party! A wireless speaker or portable record player is key as it’s not a party without music! Inexpensive blankets rolled in baskets for guests who have forgotten it can get cold once the sun goes down are a perfect finishing touch!

Q: What kind of lighting can people add to their outdoor spaces to create the right ambience for outdoor entertaining?

There are some great solar powered lanterns, lamps and Maison jars on the market that you can leave out and will automatically start glowing once the sun goes down. I also like to bring out my standard floor lamp to create a cosy feel around my lounging area (you just need to remember to bring it in!).

Eva Solo collection

Q: What are your five top tips for making sure your outdoor space is super stylish for summer?

1. Festoon lights - add some paper lanterns for a party!
2. Create a low level chill-out seating area with lots of cushions and throws.
3. Invest in a cool statement solar powered LED light.
4. Fill large zinc planters with succulent plants.
5. Cluster candles on large trays for styling outdoor dining.

Shop summer outdoor entertaining at Houseology