Now, I’m going to stick my neck out there and say that summer has arrived. The time has come to move outside, dust off the BBQ, feel the sun on your skin and enjoy a delicious G&T in the garden. Although only relatively short, we really do try to make the most of the summer in Britain. Long summer evenings spent dining al fresco, children squealing with delight as an impromptu water fight breaks out, summer fetes and regattas, and of course, Pimms O’Clock.
Forget about bringing the outside in, to make the most of your outside space the key is to treat it as another room in your house and bring the inside…out! Soften your terrace with comfortable seating, floor cushions, sparkling candles and perhaps even a rug for additional comfort. Dress the table with a collection of interesting tableware, tea lights and flowers to add colour and interest.
Over the years clients have often asked for assistance in tying together their interior and exterior design to create continuity throughout the property. Here are some of my top tips:
We must not forget the weather. Ensuring that you are adequately prepared for a sudden downpour will save you not only from a soggy salad but from a fair few ‘I-told-you-so’s’ from family and friends without quite the same level of optimism! A pergola or sun sail will protect you from the sun and heat on a beautiful day and will provide enough coverage should you get a few spots of rain.
Inside, carefully planned lighting is important to the appearance and functionality of a space. If you plan to use your outside space after the sun sets, think of the lighting here, too. Just as inside, ensure you have layers of light work, from twinkling fairy lights that provide background ambient light to hurricane lamps with candles and carefully placed spotlights to highlight a particular feature such as a beautiful tree or sculpture.
The addition of interesting finds and vintage objects will create an eclectic and relaxed style. Furnish your terrace as you would your lounge – add a variety of different shaped objects to your table; display flowers; string up bunting and scatter furniture with throws and cushions.
Garden furniture has come a long way since the days of plastic tables and chairs. Whatever your style, there is exterior furniture to complement it. From chunky teak dining tables, to contemporary high gloss pieces, there are plenty of items on the market to appeal to a variety of discerning tastes.
Large floor cushions are a flexible addition to any home and perfect for children and teenagers. They can be moved easily and create a relaxed, informal feel.
Just as the colour palette indoors should work from room to room, so too should your additional ‘room’ outdoors. Take colours from your interior and pull them through into the garden in planting, walls, accessories and furniture to create an effortless flow throughout the house and garden.
Small spaces require thoughtful planning and some clever ideas, both inside and out. Classic tricks such as carefully placed mirrors work just as well outside and can reflect light back into your house if positioned correctly. Don’t be afraid of colour in small outside spaces, I would always advise against painting a small dark room in bright white as it then becomes small and not particularly interesting. Make your space small, but visually stimulating!
If budget allows, an exterior fireplace can be the most wonderful focal point – great for keeping warm as well as cooking on. Arrange your furniture around it as you would in a living room, placing chairs around with side tables and perches for drinks. Keep throws handy for guests should the evening get a little bit too chilly… we are in England after all…