Top tips for designing a dreamy outdoor living space.
Summer 2020 was a write-off for many, but 2021 need not work out in the same way. Now we all have an appreciation for staying at home, it’s time to sculpt our living spaces to be enjoyable and beautiful places to be in. Now temperatures are rising and it looks as though the Great British summer may actually hold out, it’s time to consider heading outside and utilising your garden and outdoor areas in the best way possible. Have a read of our top hints and tips for creating a dream outdoor living space for your home....
Most of us mow the lawn once in a while and plonk some all-weather furniture on the patio, but when properly designing an outdoor space, you need to think things through a little more. What do you intend to use the space for primarily? How many people need do you need to fit in it regularly? Is it for quiet and relaxation or for parties and socialising? Do you need to consider child-friendly or pet-friendly facilities? With our end to end process, we can help you to plan, working with you to consider all of these points and with careful project planning keep them at the forefront of mind when it comes to design and purchases.
Landscape gardeners and architects always suggest that you use the same thoughtfulness in designing outdoor spaces as you would in. The position, colour and feel of garden furniture, ornamental displays and foliage should be considered in the same way they would be if you were putting them in a new interior room – after all, if you’re intending on getting good use out of them, they need to be just right! Ensure furniture and features are placed in logical and functional places for their intended use.
Whether you’re in a terraced house with a slotted garden or in a country cottage with rolling fields, take advantage of the views and surroundings in a way that complement the space. Unsightly areas can be covered with screens or hedges and prettier features highlighted with lights and/or furniture and seats pointed toward them. Even if some of the surrounding features aren’t in your garden as such, you can still enjoy them from it!
Unless your garden is entirely sheltered from the wind, make note of prevailing wind directions and patterns at different times of the day. This can avoid you building a fire pit or grounding a BBQ in a down wind or placing seats somewhere that guests are likely to be blown about. Wind is never the same all the time, so there’s no sure-fire guarantee that you’ll get it right every time, but including it in decision making will help you at least judge it correctly the majority.
Unless you’re intending to stick with standard white garden chairs and not take the design any further, comfort must be a key consideration in your outdoor design aesthetic. This includes the comfort of furniture feeling alongside shade and sun, heat and cool and wind and humidity.
Ever heard of hardscaping? It’s the practice of landscaping with hard materials in built environment structures; such as paved areas, walkways, walls and stairs. Often overlooked in gardens, many of us just assume we can’t do much with concrete and walls – but there’s lots that can be done to incorporate and complement the space around them. Look at flagstone and decomposed granite for new hardscaping projects and consider too large boulders for decoration.
Outdoor spaces are lovely to spend time in, but if you find yourself spending most of that time looking around and critiquing your gardening skills, you simply won’t relax. You don’t have to stick with the greenery you already have, and if replacing or re-planting, consider easy-care plants such as rounded shrubs or slow-grow green walls. Make sure that anything attracting bees or other pollinators is set away from areas you’ll be sitting, socialising or eating in.
Outdoor furniture shopping can be a minefield; and it’s not cheap. Ensure everything is weather-resistant, washable and comfortable before splashing the cash. Small portable pieces are ideal for larger gardens, and be sure to set aside a shed or other storage space to put pieces away during colder and wet weather. Get creative with soft furnishings and add in cushions, blankets and throws that reflect your interior style to add in whenever you’re out.
You’re already out, so why not add in more of the natural world where you can? Even the smallest of water features can have an impact on relaxation and feeling, and has even been proven to lower blood pressure. If you’re near a natural water source, think about placing seating near enough to it to hear the trickle. When evenings cool down there’s no need to come in; bring the fire out! Make sure you have storage outside for blankets, warm layers and marshmallow-roasting supplies… and plenty of firewood, of course.
Your outdoor lighting doesn’t just need to be a string of fairy lights against a fence – there’s now lots of options available on the market. Create visual interest by illuminating as much as you can where you need to (ie. outdoor kitchens, cinema screens, snack hubs, book nooks), and dim it down a little where you don’t. Decorative lighting can also illuminate pathways and walkways for safety as much as aesthetics, and ensure you and your guests don’t take an accidental topple into a pond or water feature!
To have an outdoor space to utilise is a blessing, but many of us simply don’t optimise their use the way we should. If you are ready to discuss your dream outdoor living area, get in touch with our renovations specialist for a free no-obligation consultation.
Fresh air can’t come a day too soon!
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