A few months ago I did a blog post on getting that outside feeling inside, as the weather in Blighty tends not to be good enough for endless days and nights spent outdoors. Well, shame on me for being such a negative little cloud as it transpires we actually can deliver a run of weather brilliant enough to rival holiday hot spots. All that sunshine and those soaring temperatures have gone to my head and I'm turning things on their head by now looking at getting that inside feeling outside.
1. COMFORT ZONE
Indoors we spend our time in rooms, and even when we remove walls to create open plan areas, we tend to establish zones within that space to ensure it works on a practical and comfort level. The same principle applies when creating a garden in which to happily wile away the hours. Smaller intimate spaces make us feel secure and comfortable and encourage us to relax as a result. Courtyard gardens, by their very nature, have that feeling of intimacy but may benefit from a lick of pale paint to ensure they feel welcoming rather than claustrophobic.
Large or exposed gardens can be arranged into more secluded sections with the use of planted borders , box hedging, fences or walls to achieve a similar cocooning effect. If you have great views, opt for low level borders to define the space whilst retaining the outlook.
2. BLURRING BOUNDARIES
More and more we are recognising the sense of enhanced living space (perceived and actual) to be had when our homes and gardens are combined to create a complementary and cohesive space. Installing a run of bi-fold doors and continuing the same flooring, at the same level, from inside through to outside is a great way of achieving this. Just be sure to use a flooring material that works equally well inside and out, such as porcelain floor tiles. Whilst it's not always logistically possible, or even budgetarily feasible, to link house and garden in this way, even if you live in a flat you can still blur the inside/outside boundaries by placing a table or breakfast bar up against a window to enjoy outside views and fresh air.
Another idea to visually link the spaces is to echo in the garden, elements of your indoor rooms, such as painting a garden wall or fence the same shade as used on an indoor wall, or planting a colour scheme of flowers and shrubs, and to use materials, that reflect your indoor palette.
3. FINDING FURNITURE
There's a vast array of outdoor furniture styles at all budgets to choose from, but ideally opt for something that sits (pardon the pun) comfortably alongside the style and location of your property and interior decor, be that cottagey, urban, beachy, rustic or ornate. Whatever the style, plump for the most comfortable chairs you can afford and, from a practical viewpoint, I'd suggest a material that can be left outside, such as teak. If you're in a breezy spot such as the coast, go for something weighty that won't blow away Wizard of Oz style.
When it comes to cushions, there are designs on the market that can be left outside, or alternatively create sufficient cushion storage close to your seating area. Don't go ruining a day of total laid back indulgence with the prospect of a mammoth military style pack away job at the end of it. If space is tight, built in seating with storage underneath is a great solution.
To help your outside space feel personal and homely, consider using a sideboard or set of shelves to display potted plants and garden paraphernalia as well as serving food and drinks.
4. BLOWING HOT AND COLD
To really maximise the time you spend in your outdoor rooms, introduce ways to ensure a comfortable temperature. Large shades will provide shelter from the sun, wind or a light shower and also help to create the all important intimacy. Styles range from simple understated sail shades, available in a range of sizes and colours, through to pretty as a picture decorative parasols from India and Bali.
For those lucky enough to have the space and budget, a built in fireplace will encourage enjoyment of your garden well into the night, and even into the winter months - blankets and marshmallows at the ready peeps. Alas, some of us have been told we're getting carried away with ourselves when we've suggested such a garden feature, but hope is not lost as a firepit or chimenea, built in or portable, will keep you toasty equally well.
5. COULD IT BE MAGIC?
Last, but certainly not least, add a dash of magic. Illuminating your garden as it moves through dusk into darkness is the most obvious way. Proper outdoor lighting schemes can create a stunning and dramatic effect and highlight key features, whilst simple strings of inexpensive solar powered bulbs, combined with candlelit lanterns and votives, can be just as atmospheric.
Another idea is to use mirrors and doors. They bounce light back into your garden and can disguise an ugly wall or outlook by creating the illusion of a better view and hinting at more to come beyond the mirror or door itself, all of which augments the sense of space and magic.
I hope you've enjoyed these tips. If you have a project and would like to discuss ideas for achieveing the look, please do get in touch.
All images taken from Juliette Moon Interiors, Instagram, Pinterest and Google.