Do you think of your garden as an outdoor room?
Using our gardens as an extension of our homes is a trend that’s most definitely on the rise. The Office of National Statistics reports that the average number of people per household has remained constant this decade, but according to Which?, new houses built in the UK since 2010 are smaller than ever before. So it’s no wonder that lots of us are looking to our gardens to provide that all-important extra living and entertaining space.
The idea of transforming an area of your garden into an outdoor living area can be rather daunting. We’ve all seen plenty of media coverage of amazing garden design in London, outdoor offices, guest rooms and patios, not to mention the trend for statement sheds. But creating a practical outdoor living area that the whole family can enjoy doesn’t have to be terribly complicated or expensive, and you don’t have to completely re-design your garden in the process.
If you’d like to make your outdoor space more of a living area, here are some easy ways to do it.
Location is key
The first thing you need to work out is which part of your garden is best suited to an outdoor living area. I would always go for somewhere close to the house; this will not only make it much easier to transport food and drink from the kitchen, but being able to step out of your back door straight into a comfortable family space will also encourage you to actually use it more.
Consider how much sun or shade you would like in your outdoor room before choosing a spot. It’s also well worth checking that your new outdoor living area isn’t going to prevent you from being able to maintain the rest of your garden easily; it sounds obvious, but now is the time to double-check before it’s too late!
Space to entertain
Chances are you’d like to use your outdoor living area to entertain guests, so try to make it big enough for a typical gathering. Ideally you need enough seating for all your guests. This doesn’t mean you have to find room for a huge sofa set; you could for example introduce outdoor bean bags, or build a raised bed that will double up as a bench-style seat. Making sure there’s enough room for a table to hold drinks and snacks is a must too.
When you’re ready to use your new outdoor living area for a party, Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Co have lots of tips on organising a safe and comfortable garden party for kids and adults.
Shade and shelter
For an outdoor living area to be practical in as many seasons as possible, you need to provide some form of shade and shelter. A large parasol or sail-style awning will allow you to comfortably use the space at the hottest time of the day, and can also shelter you from a short rain shower.
If you’ve got a real sun-trap on your hands and would prefer a more permanent structure, a wooden gazebo covered in climbing plants can look stunning. Gazebos are also great for providing shelter from the wind; on a smaller scale trellis screens or even planters with upright trellis will also provide protection.
Dial up the comfort factor
When it comes to making an outdoor living area comfortable and welcoming, it makes sense to treat it just like any other room. Padded, casual seating is a great option, or if you’ve got the space, an outdoor bed is fantastic for creating a luxury holiday vibe.
You can use outdoor cushions to introduce a pop of colour or pattern, consider also adding some cosy throws so you can enjoy the space on chillier evenings.
The right lighting can make all the difference to your outdoor living area, and will really extend the amount of time you can use it.
While you can install some amazing mains-powered options such as LED strip lights, spotlights and wall lights, you can also create a lovely effect on a budget. Solar-powered lights are really good these days; consider using them to highlight particular plants, provide general mood lighting, or add some magic with fairy lights. And to keep you and your guests comfortable, citronella candles are a must for creating a gentle glow while keeping bugs at bay.
What’s the focal point?
When we’re relaxing in our homes, we all naturally look for something beautiful to keep our attention. This could be a piece of wall art, a beautiful accessory, or a roaring fire – and it’s no different in an outdoor living area.
Providing a focal point will not only keep you and your guests entertained, it will also help to pull the whole area together, making it feel more like a cohesive space. A firepit, a pretty candle, a wind chime or a water feature are all great options.
Just like interior decor, your outdoor living area needs some finishing touches to stamp your personality on the space. Obviously you can’t go for wall art and shelves of trinkets, but things like candles, potted outdoor plants, bunting and bowls of rocks or shells all work well.
Your lighting plays a big part in creating that polished look too, and a small wireless speaker is a super-easy way to add music to the space. And when you’re ready to relax and enjoy your garden, don’t forget the drinks and snacks!
What’s your top tip for creating a practical and beautiful outdoor living area?