In­spir­ing ideas for sum­mer liv­ing

House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

All it takes is the right fur­ni­ture and some thought­ful plant­ing to turn your out­door space – how­ever small – into an­other room. ‘The gar­den is def­i­nitely an ex­ten­sion of the kitchen and liv­ing space,’ says Vicky An­gell, out­door liv­ing buyer for John Lewis. ‘In part, this is be­cause our homes are, on aver­age, smaller than ever, so we’re look­ing to the out­doors for space to en­ter­tain and re­lax.’ Here are some handy tips for cre­at­ing a stylish, user-friendly out­door liv­ing area. Se­lect­ing the space

Be­fore you make any pur­chases or plant­ing plans, take a look at your gar­den as a whole, as An­drew Kyte, se­nior store man­ager at The Chelsea Gar­dener sug­gests. ‘Find out as much as you can about the gar­den’s po­si­tion, di­rec­tion and out­look,’ he says. ‘Not only will this af­fect plant­ing, it can dic­tate how you use your space.’

Ob­serve where and at what times of day dif­fer­ent parts of the gar­den get light and sun. Think about access and what you want to use the out­door room for – sun­bathing, eat­ing alfresco or sim­ply sit­ting to en­joy a cup of tea on a sunny morn­ing. Are you over­looked? How per­ma­nent a spot do you want to cre­ate? Can you in­cor­po­rate ex­ist­ing ar­chi­tec­tural or gar­den features such as a fence, wall or large tree into your plan?

Ac­cord­ing to Claire Belder­bos, direc­tor of gar­den land­scap­ing spe­cial­ists, Belder­bos Land­scapes: ‘A din­ing ta­ble works best in the area of the gar­den that has early af­ter­noon full or par­tial sun. Put a smaller seat­ing area where you can en­joy the evening sun.’

Plant for def­i­ni­tion

Nar­row, low-planted beds can define seat­ing or din­ing ar­eas, as can lines of planted-up troughs – choose ev­er­green scented plants, such as laven­der or Mex­i­can or­ange blos­som.

Use an ex­ist­ing wall or fence as a back­drop, and make it more eye­catch­ing by paint­ing it or cov­er­ing it with planters or climb­ing plants. Con­tain­ers of­fer the most flex­i­bil­ity, al­low­ing you to move them around how­ever suits. Climbers

While liv­ing walls are very fash­ion­able, they do re­quire up­keep. Tra­di­tional climbers can of­ten give the same ef­fect, but with less has­sle. Tony Woods, direc­tor of gar­den de­sign com­pany Gar­den Club Lon­don, recommends star jas­mine as a climb­ing plant that works bril­liantly in an out­door liv­ing room: ‘It’s very well-be­haved, pro­duces masses of white, waxy, scented flow­ers through­out the sum­mer and re­acts well to be­ing cut back, so is ideal for po­si­tion­ing be­hind a seat­ing area where you don’t want plants hang­ing over and can en­joy the scent.’


Make your out­door space even more ap­peal­ing by se­lect­ing plants with at­trac­tive fra­grances, such as the honey-like sweet box. ‘My top plants for a gar­den room of­ten orig­i­nate from the Mediter­ranean,’ says Tony. ‘Creep­ing rose­mary is a great plant for edg­ing in con­tain­ers, as it trails rather than grow­ing up­right, is ev­er­green and cov­ered in blue flow­ers in spring. Try other herbs that hold their fo­liage year round and smell great, such as laven­der ‘Hid­cote’ and sage.’ Screen­ing

The best way to screen off your out­door room is by in­tro­duc­ing hard land­scap­ing in the form of per­go­las or fences, or through plants. ‘You can’t go wrong with hardy rose bushes or tall bam­boo,’ sug­gests Jon Hol­loway, founder of Gar­den Trad­ing. Al­ter­na­tively, try a line-up of pot­ted trees. The ex­perts at the­joy­of­ rec­om­mend mag­no­lias, maples and dwarf lilacs as some species that will thrive in a pot.

The fur­ni­ture

For smaller court­yards and pa­tios, go for fold­ing fur­ni­ture, or bench seat­ing that can be tucked un­der a din­ing ta­ble when not in use. L-shaped so­fas can be sur­pris­ingly com­pact, but look and feel lux­u­ri­ous. Larger spa­ces can take full-on seat­ing sets, with match­ing chairs, so­fas and ta­bles; sun loungers and daybeds, or on-trend hang­ing chairs or swing seats. If you can’t move your three-piece suite in­doors over win­ter, buy fur­ni­ture cov­ers to pro­tect and ex­tend its life. Heat and light

Ex­tend the length of time you can use your out­door room by in­tro­duc­ing ways of keep­ing warm on cooler days and light­ing up dark evenings. There are plenty of stylish firepits and chime­neas now avail­able, from high-end de­signer num­bers to por­ta­ble high-street mod­els.

In ex­actly the same way that you layer up in­door light­ing, do the same in the gar­den and choose a va­ri­ety of sources, from stand­ing lights and ta­ble lamps, to can­dle lanterns and draped bulb strings. ‘Out­door lights and a firepit mean that you can con­tinue to en­joy your space even when the sun sets or if the weather isn’t quite what you hoped,’ says Jon Hol­loway. Fin­ish­ing touches

It’s the de­tails that turn a ba­sic seat­ing area into an out­door room, so think about the ac­ces­sories you’d use to up­date your lounge and ap­ply the same prin­ci­ples here: out­door rugs, wa­ter­proof cush­ions, pads for hard seat­ing, throws for warmth. Re­flect light around your cho­sen spot with a mir­ror; in­vest in a wa­ter­proof speaker; choose cit­ronella can­dles to keep bugs at bay, and dot smaller pot­ted plants around the space, much as you’d use house plants.


THE SIZE IS RIGHT Con­sider scale when choos­ing fur­ni­ture. If your space is limited, avoid larger pieces that will only make your gar­den ap­pear smaller. Helsinki ta­ble, £35; plat­ter, £8.50; Dotty scat­ter cush­ion, £14; all Sains­bury’s Home

HOUSE OF BAM­BOO Fast-grow­ing bam­boo is a handy way of adding pri­vacy. Just be aware that it roots pro­lif­i­cally, so plant in con­tain­ers to con­trol its growth. Grid out­door seat­ing col­lec­tion by Gloster, from £948 for a side ta­ble (this con­fig­u­ra­tion...

SCENT THE AIR Use nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, like this log store, to pro­vide a back­drop to seat­ing and hide a plain wall. Po­si­tion scented plants, such as laven­der, nearby to cre­ate a re­lax­ing at­mos­phere. Cal­i­for­nia Cor­ner Gar­den Sofa by Al­lib­ert, £435, Next

CHILL-OUT ZONE For a more trop­i­cal, feel add brightly coloured cush­ions and throws to neu­tral seat­ing, and sur­round the pa­tio with large lush plant­ing, like this ba­nana leaf plant. They can be grown in pots and moved around if needed. RJR John Rocha...

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