Your indoors are getting the thumbs up from your guests, and rightly so too, because you have invested time, energy, and money on creating visually appealing, harmonious living space. So, what about the outdoors? Most of us reserve that for the potted plants and the shed, but it is the new living space hiding in plain sight. You don’t need a pergola to bring Tuscany serenity to your garden. OK, we all need a pergola, and there’s no denying that. But, let’s make the most of outdoor space to create your own verdant sanctuary.
How to start
Clear the area – a lot stays hidden in an overgrown garden with lumber resting blissfully ignored till the day you REALLY make up your mind to do a clear-out. You don’t know your garden’s potential until you make room for it.
Pick a theme – it is probably the hardest part of the process because there are so many options. Whether it is a Moroccan-style terrace, a tucked-away dining area, a whimsical lounge, a viridescent courtyard, a vine-running verandah, a shady terrace, a modern rooftop, a period patio, a vintage terrace, a cosy firepit, a sleeping porch, a roof deck, or an ivy-hedged terrace – we think we have given you plenty to imagine. The theme you choose should complement the space you have. A complementary mix-and-match of colours and textures helps the theme stand out. Earthy neutrals and pastel colours enhance a small space.
Formulate a budget – the biggest anxiety homeowners face is the cost. But, it doesn’t have to be a costly affair because you can work around so many design elements. If you are adding a dining table, consider benches instead of chairs, which can be cost-effective. You can always use reclaimed wood furniture and multi-functional furnishings.
While spending for flooring certainly pays off, you can instead opt for carpet grass, woodchips, pebble, decorative stones & gravel, and stone aggregates for an outdoor seating area or dining area. You can also use stencils to draw bright patterns on an existing concrete floor. Elegant planters with pops of bright green and lanterns bring plenty of style without straining your budget.
How to spice up the outdoors
Furniture – outdoor furniture is what brings the ‘living’ element to your outdoors. When it pours all the time in some places, naming no names (ahem! Scotland), you don’t want to splurge on plush cushions or natural-fibre rugs for your open-air haven unless they come and go with you. You can use wood, rattan, and wicker furniture, ensuring they are weather-proofed or water-proofed. You can always upholster seats with outdoor fabrics. Terracotta, marble, stone, terrazzo, and glass are also weather-resistant natural materials but can be expensive. Synthetic materials that do not look too synthetic are great too. A water-repellent outdoor rug made of synthetic fibres can bring a warm, chic look to the patio or balcony.
Hold back from crowding the space with too many pieces – the idea is to achieve harmony with nature through simplistic comfort.
Place eye-catching potted plants with outdoor seating, and if you want some privacy, let some wisteria climb a trellis. A side table or two that double as a stool or an ottoman or pouf that doubles as a side table save space creatively. Did you know you can get ceramic taborets?
Invest in a long and narrow dining table for your outdoor dining area with a bench running parallel on either or one side. It is more space-saving than having to accommodate a large round table or several little ones when the whole family wants to dine al fresco or guests gather for a summer feast. However, patios and traditional terraces might benefit from round tables.
If you love a certain spot and know you are always going to have sun-drenched moments there in the summer, built-in benches will take durability to the next level. Use limestone for a nature-inspired look.
Instead of the usual lounger on the patio, have them suspended for that extra benefit of sway. You will soon have guests competing for a spot of sway-sitting there. Also, a hanging chair or two in the garden mixed in with conventional seating will spice things up in an otherwise ordinary outdoor lounge.
Features – firepits are a year-round functional feature. Putting them at the centre of a concrete table with a seating area converts the space into a year-round outdoor living room. Create a focal point with a sculpture, fountain, or water feature. If the garden fence is the backdrop to your outdoor living space, let flowering and leafy runners take over for a more picturesque one. Lanterns, lamps, and string lights add a magic touch, and if there is nothing to suspend lamps and lanterns, place them on the floor for stunning versatility.
We often exclude our precious garden space when envisioning living spaces. But, the truth is outdoor design deserves the same attention from us as interior design. It allows us to use spaces we never think of using and expand our floor space creatively. GS Brown Construction properties are designed with outdoor spaces that inspire and where your creativity is allowed to blossom.