How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Space
Use our top tops to help style your outdoor space to make the most out of the summer sunshine.
Get The Look: Outdoor Living
For many of us gardens have again taken centre stage over the last two years, a combination of lockdowns and a desire to socialise more outside spurred in many of us a desire to embrace our outside spaces and make them our own. With an ever increasing range of furniture, lighting, and heating options you can create a space which is perfect for entertaining even with the unpredictable British weather. Whilst you probably picked up on many of the latest trends, firepits and chimineas, hanging chairs and day beds, and pizza ovens, you may have missed the a quiet revolution in the world of outdoor fabrics. With new new techniques and materials there is now a very wide range of outdoor fabrics and textures on offer, many of which are environmentally conscious too made from natural and reclaimed materials. In our guide we will take a look at some of the latest trends to help you create your perfect outdoor space just for you.
Use Zoning to Create Outdoor Rooms
A key for designing any space is to think about how you will use the space and then try to create a design which reflects this. For most of us our outdoor space is likely to be used for a combination of formal and informal gatherings, so it is useful to think about zones. With a formal dining area the location should ideally be close to the house, whilst you might think about using a favoured corner of the garden, perhaps where the light or view are just right, be warned that the further away your dining area is from the house the more difficult it will be to cater for with food and drinks and probably the less often it will be used. A better option is to have a second zone for informal gatherings in your favoured sun-spot, depending on the location and your preferences you will have many more seating options for this second zone: outdoor sofas, day-beds, oversized bean bags, swinging chairs or even a simple bench.
Whether you want to catch the sun whilst eating a lazy Sunday Brunch or invite your friends and family over for a celebratory meal, the chances are one zone you will definitiely want to create is a formal dining area.
Order Garden Furniture Early in the Season
One of the trickiest challenges can be finding the right dining set, if you need a new dining set our top tip is look as early in the season as possible many outdoor furniture ranges will sell out each year and even when it is in stock delivery can take a few weeks.
Upcylce Garden Furniture With Paint
Another option is to refurnish existing furniture with a new lick of paint or varnish. As well as revamping existing garden furniture you can also use outdoor wood paints and exterior metal paints to upcylce indoor furniture for use in the garden. Although it may not be as hard-wearing or as long-lasting as furniture specifically made for the outdoors with the right treatment and care you should get many years of additional service from it.
Add your Own Style with Outdoor Fabrics.
Whether you are buying new furniture or upcycling a great way to make an impact and to add a homely feel is to add outdoor cushions, tablecloths and throws. There are a great range of outdoor fabrics to choose from, many of which can be made up into tablecloths, cushions and throws, as well as a good selection of ready-made cushions. It is a good idea to mix and match patterns and fabrics, not only is this is a fun way to explore and experiment with different styles but it will also make it easier to keep adding to it and updating it in future years.
Revitalise Outdoor Flooring
Add New Tiling or Decking
Tiling and decking are great ways of creating outdoor zones. If you are creating a new seating area at the end of the garden then decking is a great choice, it is easy to install and the wood will tone in with the greens and browns of nature. Patios will be more harder wearing than decking, the solid stones and tiles look best when sitting next to the house or other hard materials such as gravel or stone paths. If you are laying a new patio or decking you may be surprised by the range of tiles and materials on offer.
Smarten Up Existing Patios and Decking
If you have an existing patio or decking in place it is a good idea to wash it with a power washer once a year, you may be surprised by the amount of dirt and mud which can accumulate over winter. Decking will aslo benefit from being stained or sealed as part of regular maintenance. If you have any broken or rotten decking you should look to repair it before you apply any new stain, it can be tricky to get an exact match so you may need to apply a few coats or opt to paint the decking. A great way to update a patio is to replace a few of the slabs with decorative slabs or tiles, we love the trend for Morroccan encaustic tiles, but just be aware that they an be pourous and absorb spills so need looking after.
Embrace Outdoor Rugs
Outdoor rugs now come in all shapes and sizes and are another great way to add zoning, use outdoor rugs in your informal zone in the same way you would indoors. Most outdoor rugs will be a flat weave or low pile but there are now some softer tufted rugs which can be great for walking and lounging on such as this fantastic Pierre Frey Treillage Rug, which is manufactured from outdoor fibres and hand-tufted for extra comfort.
Add Some Fun with Outdoor Rugs
Outdoor rugs have also improved in the range of styles available, stripes and Morroccan trellis designs were some of the first outdoor rug designs and remain popular with a wide choice available, but there are also fantastic florals, abstract designs and designs inspired by nature. As well as being functional and great for defining areas andzones in a garden you can also use outdoor rugs to inject a bit of fun. Below are two iconic designs which have found their way onto outdoor rugs, the instantly recognisable Orla Kiely flower design, in Daffodil, and Scion's Fox.
Create Courtyard Charm
Townhouses provide great homes but often come with compact courtyard gardens. Our top tip for courtyard gardens is to embrace the space by making the walls become part of the design. If you have masonry walls outdoor wall paint is a great way to brighten up the space or inject some colour: mix white walls with blues and teals for a Greek Island vibe, or embrace the colours of tuscan villas combined with lemon prints and florals for some Sorrento style, or what about bright colours for a latin American style.
Cover Walls with Screens
If you don't have masonry walls which you can paint another great tip is to use a screens or trellises, both come in all shapes and sizes as well as a wide range of materials including woods and metals. Not only can they be used to enhance style and add character but they are also excellent for sectioning off and hiding areas, whether you want to hide brickwork, drain pipes, bikes or general garden mess. Screens can also add extra height giving you more privacy. If your budget will stretch to it, corten steel screens make a great choice for a low maintenance screen, they are designed from weathering steel which improves with age.
Add Little Design Elements
In a courtyard your eyes will be drawn to the edges and corners as well as the walls so a top tip is to use little hints of style and design to create focal points and areas of interest. Little attentions to detail will go a long way, in the image below the use of white pebble stones around the edges catches your eye and immediately transports you to a beach setting.
Use Garden Mirrors
Another top tip is to add a garden mirror, garden mirrors add interest but can also be used to maximise light or to make a space feel bigger, use them in the same way that you would inside. Garden mirrors shaped like doors or gates can be added to the end of a garden, of any size, to give the impression of an additional hidden garden, this is particularly effective if there is greenery on either side.
If your space is limited to a balcony you may not have the option for sepate seating areas but depending on the space you might be able to add some multifunctional detailing. Consider comfier chairs for dining which can then be paired with a footstool at night to create a lounging space, also look for tables and furniture which can fold away to give more space as needed. Other soft options include outdoor rugs and beanbags which can be moved into and out of the space easily.
Relax in Comfort
Choose Comfy Garden Seating
There is a wider range of comfy outdoor seating than ever before, from oversized outdoor beanbags to giant swing seats, from daybeds to sofas. If you have enough space for a separate dining area you really can go to town with your chillout zone and indulge in oversized extra comfy seating for you and your guests. Such is the advancement of outdoor fabrics that you may struggle to see any difference between them and your indoor sofa covers, just take a look at these two wonderful sofas from Andrew Martin.
Style with Outdoor Cushions
When designing the informal zone for your garden we recommend adding lots of outdoor cushions, these are a great way to add personality as well as comfort, and a few throws and blankets, perfect for warming cold shoulders as the sun sets.
Cover from the Elements
Whether you are creating a formal or informal space you will need shelter from the elements, whether this is a parasol to offer some shade for diners, a covered gazebo or plant covered gazebo.
If you are limited for space, or you have a dining area adjoining a wall, a neat option is a retractable patio awning. Because they take up no floor space they won't get in your way whilst entertaining.
As well as the sun and rain consider also something which breaks the wind, garden screens and hanging drapes made from an outdoor fabric are both great options. An even simpler tip is to have some blankets and throws to hand to wrap up with when the weather starts to cool.
Sunbathe in Style
Another good zone to have in the garden is space for catching the sun. Deckchairs are a great option for smaller gardens because they can be packed away for storage and don't tend to take up as much space as sunloungers. If you have never recovered a deckchair you may be pleasantly surpised at how simple this is, but if you have access to a sewing machine and basic sewing skills you can choose from almost any outdoor fabric to create bespoke deckchairs. Another great feature about deckchairs is they are very portable and can be easily moved.
Hamocks are another good option, you can hang traditional hammocks between two trees, or choose a modern free standing hammock if you want to be able to chase the sun aroudn the garden as it migrates across the horizon.
If you are fortunate enough to have space for sunloungers it is worth investing in some pads, they add padding for comfort as well as warmth. These can be made to order using any outdoor fabric suitable for cushions giving a great range of fabrics.
Embrace Your Individuality
Experiment with Colour & Patterns
Your garden really is a chance to expermient with your style, most gardens are a riot of colours and as such will provide a forgiving backdrop to any colours or patterns you want to add. Mix and matching fabrics is a great way to do this, as you will be able to swap anything out you don't like you have the perfect canvas for changes without being tied into expensive mistakes. So be bold and pick a brighter and bolder design than you would with an indoor fabric. If you have a hard area, such as a patio or decking, a great way to soften the space up is with a bold use of colour and patterns. Dramatic florals can be particularly effective in the garden but big bold colurful stripes can also add visual interest and break up the space.
Take Your Time & Treat Yourself
Refurbishing and revitalising a garden or outoor space can be expensive, but choose wisely and you will reap benefits for years. If your budget is limited a good tip is to choose one luxury item to purchase each year. Think of it like gardening, each year you are adding layers and building on your efforts from previous years, so resist the temptation to rush out and buy everything, and instead choose one key quality item and style around that.