We have to make do with what we’re given. In the case of restaurateurs, bar owners and hotel management, that translates to sprucing up your available space wherever it may come into focus. Outside areas, in particular, can reap massive rewards from a different face, a new shade on a stretch of grass or patio that’s hardly changed over the years. So instead of resigning yourself to a tired-looking smoking area, why not do something special with your exterior spot? Letting it go to waste is a crying shame, and a missed opportunity for drawing in customers… A slice of greenery Let’s start with the most forgettable of all outdoor spaces – the alley, where rubbish and recyclables are the only real window dressing. Some premises have a fairly big side area that’s leaving its potential behind in a trail of tossed cardboard. Since natural touches are a rarity in dense urban layouts, it’s a charming idea to turn your disused space into a little garden, complete with a bench or two for anyone who wants to take a breather. It doesn’t have to be a full-on, end-to-end carpet of soil and plants. Potted flowers make just as much of an impression if they’re well looked after. You’ll need to find a setup that courts the most sunlight, and attach signs to the wall so people treat the vegetation with due respect. Extending your dining palette Increasingly, outdoor eating is being packaged into the bar and restaurant experience. Diners in the UK have switched onto the breezier tendencies of our far-flung cousins abroad, so make sure you have the scope (and awesome design) to capitalise on this trend. A handful of dining tables will add a bit of prestige to a space that’s been passed over for too long. A sturdy parasol in the vein of Instashade’s Café series is the capper for a gorgeous, protected table arrangement, saving guests from any bursts of wind and rain. Bringing the fun outdoors Have you noticed ping-pong games, foosball and other light forms of entertainment cropping up in popular bars? If so, it’s because younger demographics love to test each other over a few drinks, or sink into a beanbag with a bag of nuts in hand. A games area towards the rear of your venue can bring large groups together, and brand you as a haven of fun activities. Remember though that leaving people to crash out on wicker chairs and watch their pals knock a ball back and forth will necessitate some form of overhead cover. Again, a high-functioning parasol can secure happy punters from the elements, as well as keeping your accessories nice and dry. The Eclipse model is a great pick for sheltering modest spaces; it can rotate to follow the sun when warmer months swing around. Instashade is always hankering to turn a bare, underestimated side of your exterior into a statement of intent. How far you take that idea is up to you, but we’re certainly ready to finalise your decisions with our commercial parasol range. They’re the last stroke of the brush for outdoor décor – have a look over what we’ve got, and be courageous with your new aesthetic!