If you've been lucky like us recently with some fair weather, you will be turning your attention to the outside spaces of your home.
Creating a distinct area outside gives the feeling of a room, outdoors, and makes a great space for socialising and relaxing. Even if you have a small garden or your budget is tight, there are plenty of things that you can do to create a defined area, which becomes an extension of your home's interior, outdoors.
Just like any room in your home, an outdoor room needs to be planned before you begin, so before you head off the DIY store to shop, let's have a look at what you need to consider when designing an outdoor room.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Where you create your outdoor room will affect how successful it will be. Firstly, grab yourself a compass and look at the direction your garden faces. As we all know, south facing gardens are ideal for capturing the best sunlight, but if you don't have a suitable south facing spot, you can still create a cosy nook elsewhere. Consider the focal point of your space too. If you have a fabulous view overlooking the countryside, position your outdoor space towards this view. If your view doesn't face south, you'll need to weigh up whether the view or the sun wins the day.
Pop Up Gazebo by Wyevale Garden Centres
Shelter is really important in an outside garden, either from the breeze in more northern climates, or from the sun if you are lucky enough to live somewhere warm. Shelter can be natural: if you have overhanging trees for example, this can create a canopy to shade you from the wind and sun, but if not, you can add artificial shelter through canopies, gazebos, privacy screens or simple windbreaks.
ZONE THE SPACE
Zoning the space demarcates the area as a gathering place/ eating place/ whatever you want the space to be. You can zone the space in different ways: by creating a visible barrier such as fencing, gazebos, pergolas or even low-level hedges. Or you can simply demarcate the space by the use of flooring and furniture arrangement. Either way, think "courtyard" and treat your outdoor space just like you would an indoor space: with a clearly defined purpose and boundaries to match.
Just like an indoor room, an outdoor room needs flooring. If you are working on a budget, use rush matting, or even beach mats to demarcate the area. If you have more to spend, create a hardstanding area like a patio or deck, but even a gravel area works well, and can be created in a weekend.
BRING GREENERY IN
Image courtesy of Design 3000
Even if you are surrounded by hedges and grass, bringing potted plants right up to your seating area really makes you feel like you are sitting in the heart of nature. Pot up some hardy outdoor plants, or even consider adding 'living walls' to your screens and walls. If you plant them up with herbs or hanging fruit you get double use out of your space.
Skagerak Helios Fire Bowl from Cloudberry Living
Especially if you live in the more northern parts of the world, adding a fire bowl or fire pit allows you to stay outside for longer as the evenings get chilly. Fire bowls start from as little as £20, or if you're feeling brave, you can have a go at building your own!
LET THERE BE LIGHT!
Festoon Lights by Garden Trading
As the warmer weather comes along, sitting outside into the small hours means that outdoor lighting becomes a must-have. Outdoor lighting has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and there are lots of different options out there. Opt for strings of fairy lights and weave them through your pergola. Run storm lanterns down the centre of your table, and use solar powered stick lights dotted throughout your garden.
Until next time x
Main Image: Coastal Living Range by Wyevale Garden Centres