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Outdoor: On the side: How to Style Up Outdoor Occasional Tables

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From a compact balcony to a spacious deck, it’s possible to create an inviting entertaining area in your outdoor space, complete with a comfy sofa and occasional tables. Here’s how to add functional glam to this busy area. 

Your patio, balcony or deck should act as an extension to your indoor living area, and that means kitting it out with the same little luxuries that you might find inside, including a plush sofa or armchairs and occasional tables. You need to cater to tough weather conditions - so how can you dress up these surfaces with the same attention to detail you’d find inside, without having to rush outside every time the wind picks up?


Whether it’s a trio of tiny succulents or the generous foliage of a vibrant fern, adding greenery to your space will immediately add colour and life to your outdoor space. Cute pots and planters with a bit of weight to them are a must, and for any habitual plant-killers out there, consider artificial plants. These days, fake plants are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, and will keep your space looking bright and fresh all year round with a minimum of fuss.

Trays & bowls

Decorative trays and bowls are an inexpensive way to accessorise an outdoor space. Consider hammered metallic bowls, heavy ceramic platters and woven mats and baskets. They can double as tableware when entertaining and can hold onto any bits and pieces to keep your look streamlined.


Candles and portable battery-powered lanterns will ensure your patio is functional until well into the night. Brass, copper and glass candle holders will tolerate a windy or rainy day, while battery-powered lighting can create a warm, welcoming glow without the risk of blowing out. Keep these items undercover to maximise their lifespan.

Cosy up

Cushions, throws and rugs will add the colour, texture and depth that is all too often missing from outdoor living areas. Textiles will need to be put away during harsh weather conditions, so consider built-in hidden storage under the coffee table or sofa for easy access.

Find your style

  • Modular:  Consider an occasional table in the same or a similar style to your sofa. This way, it can act as an extension of the sofa, working double duty as a footstool, table, chaise, ottoman and extra seating, ideal in both small and large spaces. The squared edges and matching materials will ensure a streamlined, cohesive look.
  • Nesting tables:  Two or three tables can provide the laid-back flexibility you need on the patio or balcony, able to tuck away when not needed in an unobtrusive fashion. A style statement in their own right, choose bold, textural materials such as timber or concrete.
  • Round:  Smaller spaces will benefit from a traditional-style round outdoor coffee table. The lack of sharp edges means less bumps and knocks, as well as easy traffic flow through the space.
  • Side table:  Tiny balconies and multi-purpose spaces may not be able to accommodate a proper coffee table, but a slimline side table will slot into the cosiest nook - out of sight and not underfoot - with just enough space for your cup of tea, book and glasses. Perfect!

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