Outdoor living spaces offer the perfect place to soak up the sun, dine alfresco and hang out with friends.
Whether you have a big back garden or tiny balcony, your outside space has the potential to give an extra dimension to your home and add real value. Perhaps you want somewhere sunny to sit back and relax after a long day at work or to entertain friends and family. Here are some ideas to help you create your own green oasis.
Deck the garden
Landscaping an entire garden can be pricey but adding a decked area doesn’t need to break the bank. If you’re looking to create an area of alfresco dining, a deck, can offer an all-year-round option. Position it close to your home to create a link between indoors and out and make sure it’s large enough to be a useful addition. Think about the amount of space required for people to easily negotiate their way around any tables and chairs.
Mix it up with flagstones
Get a stylish look for your outdoor space by mixing wooden decking with stone paving, such as limestone, or brick patio. The different materials add character and a contrast between the dark and light surfaces. To help with material choices, take design cues from the style and colours of your home and local buildings. Tubs filled with large plants, such as bamboo or Japanese maple, can inject greenery and colour.
Taking your living space outdoors is very on-trend. Get some vibrant cushions, blankets (for colder evenings) and candles to make the outside as inviting as possible. There is a huge range of garden furniture available to suit all budgets. Or you might upcycle items to save money and give your garden a fresh new look. Wooden garden furniture can be repainted or re-stained. Make sure any paint is weather-resistant. Clean the rust off metal tables and chairs. Bistro tables are perfect for smaller spaces.
Pull up a pew
Provide a choice of comfortable seating areas around the garden to relax and entertain friends. This means you should be able to make the most of every available ray of sunshine. For example, a bistro table to catch the morning sunshine for breakfast outside. Position recliners in the sunniest spots ready for use. Or you might invest in a comfy outdoor sofa for your chill-out space.
Build a bar or grill area
An outdoor tiki bar could be the star of the show in your garden, creating your own tropical paradise – a place to perch and sip cocktails with friends. Ideally a tiki bar is purpose-built to look like a beach hut. It could take pride of place on a raised decked area with bamboo and rattan furnishings. Tiki poles, rather like totem poles with elongated faces, give it an authentic touch. Alternatively, you might prefer to add a built-in grill to keep the party going.
Make your patio or deck more alluring after dark by adding soft, subtle lighting. This can be anything from strings of fairy lights in trees to candles in lanterns and tiki torches in your borders and pots. Citronella candles around the deck or patio have the bonus of keeping mosquitos away as they cannot stand the smell. Consider low-level lighting for paths and terraces as well as wall lights.
It’s hard to beat the attraction of an open fire, so whether it’s a party with friends or dinner with family, a stylish metal fire bowl can keep the conversation flowing long after the sun goes down, thanks to the heat and light. Or perhaps you could build your own fire pit which can either be contained within a brick wall or sunk in the ground. Keep the seating area small for an intimate gathering or open it up for a big party. Make sure the fire is a safe distance from fences and foliage.
Turn your outdoor space into a leafy oasis. Green foliage and herbaceous planting will help create a feeling of escape. Even in the smallest of spaces, potted plants of all shapes and sizes can give a little serenity. Don’t forget plants with interesting bark or berries to provide all-year round interest. If you are overlooked by neighbours and want more privacy, screen the area with a climber-clad trellis or pergola. Fill the air with fragrances by planting scented roses, honeysuckle, sweet jasmine and lavender.
There are lots of factors to consider when designing a stylish garden lounge – the size of space you have, decking, furnishings, lighting and sweet-scented planting. Pimms anyone?
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