With the influx of television programmes showing garden makeovers included within interior design it is apparent that patios and outdoor living is gaining in popularity. We wait patiently for warm days to arrive and when the do we need to be prepared to make as much use of our patio as possible. Maybe you're happy having a standard patio table and chairs – yet with many interior design ideas spilling into the garden it's easy to create a usable patio for more than the occasional barbecue. Patios don't have to used solely for eating – we're going to take a look at outdoor dining areas later on this week – today we focus on using your patio for more than an eating area. Sun-loungers are a great if you purely want to soak up some rays, however, to make your patio look more like an extension of your home you'll need to think about seating, flooring and lighting design – it's not difficult, just as long as you think about it sensibly so that you include all the aspects of outdoor living to suit the size of your patio. Typically wicker furniture is used on patios and with modern materials it make sense to chose sofas and chairs which will withstand temperature variations and perhaps even the odd rain shower! Flooring should also be thought about – cheap rugs are perfect for adding texture to your patio and comfort for bare feet. As we saw yesterday cheap curtains are ideal for providing a lightweight wind-break, they can also be used as a practical way to shield your patio from the sun when hung as an overhead canopy. Adopting this idea means you'll also have a sheltered area for children to play during the daytime. To get the most use of your patio you'll also need to have outdoor lighting – there are lots of different types available – from little solar power lamps which can be hidden amongst your flower beds and shrubbery to more elaborate styles powered by electricity which produce more light. Don't forget that electricity and water (rain in this instance) don't mix so it's better to be safe than sorry and advisable to ask a qualified electrician for guidance. Accessories, such as cushions and throws should also be included in your patio design – providing a chic and stylish look as well as comfort and the ability to use the throws should the nights turn a little chilly.

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