Outdoor Room Design
We all seem to be spending more time outdoors these days and it’s a curious fact that more convertible cars are sold in the UK than any other European country.
Take a look at Teddington High St. All the cafes are trying to squeeze tables and chairs onto the narrow pavements to ensure they attract punters looking for the ‘ al fresco’ experience.
At home your outdoor space should also be regarded with as much importance as the indoor rooms. Traditionally we have had manicured lawns with borders and small terraced areas with teak furniture. This is a pretty classical look but not the most innovative or effective use of your garden space.
There are some amazing products available that can make an outdoor area colourful, fun and really usable.
A large terrace next to and accessed from your kitchen is ideal. You can then make maximum use of this space; as a great deal of the time that we spend outside we are either eating or drinking. The fashion for large folding, sliding doors leading straight onto a terrace is great as you can expand your interior space whenever you like.
Decking is a quick, easy and cheap way to create a terrace and gives a nice relaxed ‘holiday at home’ feel. However it does dull into a silvery grey colour with sunlight, so can involve a bit of maintenance to keep it looking good and becomes quite slippery in winter. For my design projects I tend to specify tiling as it is harder wearing and the finish can then be the same inside and out. I also try to integrate planters with uplighting and architectural greenery such as bamboo. If there is space I will also add built in seated areas, often painted in vibrant colours.
Once you have built the backdrop with tiling, steps, lighting and planting then you need to add a table and chairs, maybe some more loungy furniture, lighting, some plants in pots for decoration and perhaps a fire pit for the cooler evenings. Then you really create the feeling of an ‘outdoor room’.
The Italian manufacturers have some great furniture on the market: for example Paola Lenti’s Flex and Float ranges have bright coloured or neutral flexible matts to lounge around on and also some soft organic shaped furniture. Some of these pieces would work better in a warmer climate as they may not last outside in an English summer down poor. All the furniture shops currently have ranges that look like rattan but are actually waterproof and uv resistant, so all you need to store are the cushions. Kartell another Italian manufacturer has great armchairs and sofas that are shaped like traditional ‘chesterfields’ but are actually produced in plastic for out door use and available in every colour imaginable. If you fancy combining lighting and furniture then you can get sofas and coffee tables that actually light up from madeindesign.co.uk and solar portable lights in a great range of colours. They can be placed on a dining table or anywhere else on your terrace, they also do over sized options which give off lots of light and look really quirky.
Finally add some potted plants, little rows of three pots grouped together look cute or for a softer contemporary look try the bac square pots from madeindesign.co.uk which are little portable sacks divided up into sections.
The final step to create your ideal outdoor room: cross your fingers and hope that this glorious weather we’ve been having lasts all summer.
By Tanya Dunbavin