Outdoor Living

What better way to enjoy summertime than by making the most of the great outdoors. As an interior designer I am often asked to help improve and dress outside spaces to make them feel part of the lifestyle and home overall. You can make your outside space as luxurious as the inside, trust me.

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Selecting the right furniture is essential. What type of look are you trying to create? Modern, boho, white-washed beach haven, country, trendy, eco, the list goes on.

I personally like using dark or grey rattan juxtaposed against contemporary, crisp, white cushions to create impact. Seating is incredibly important as your outdoor space is to enjoy so you want your friends, family and guests to indulge and be comfortable.  I LOVE glamorous day beds (think St Tropez beach party) and if you have the room I recommend you invest. Sky Line are masters of such furniture; beautiful yet natural shapes and gorgeous colours, you can’t go wrong with a day bed.

Outdoor fireplaces are having their moment. You can revamp your garden or terrace into a cool hub making the fireplace your central feature. I know people who have used old bricks to build the fireplace meaning its recycled and put sand on the floor to create a truly unique space. If building a fireplace is too much invest in a fire pit. Nothing beats sitting round the warmth of a fire after dinner.

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Alfresco dining is something we all love to do. Those long summer evenings that glow and seem to go on forever. Purchase a dining table and chairs, again in rattan or metal over anything plastic and cheap looking – you may as well get this right first time. I have opted for a simple black rattan set with glass table top but dress the area up with an interesting centrepiece and cushions to add some interest and depth. Give it a go.

Inspiring outdoor kitchens are extremely du jour, especially in the Caribbean and United States. Clay or brick kitchens that blend into the surrounding natural environment can be simply stunning. The advantage of creating an outdoor kitchen means the hosting (and mess that goes with it) is kept out of your main residence; something I know my clients find attractive! In this space add a large mirror as it reflects the light and is more inviting. There are some fantastic outdoor mirrors around with thick, rustic frames. Alternatively over-sized French clocks are extremely popular and add a little character, creating the feeling of being outside with the comfort of being indoors.

As you begin to revamp your outdoor space you will seriously think about colours. Earthy colours and décor is a must; ochres and greens, taupe’s and greys, to keep things natural, then add stainless steel appliances for that raw, industrial touch and inject colour through one item alone. Within your seating area add a great coffee table; something natural looking, maybe a bit of driftwood or an oak table to add some charm; a nod to Mother Nature herself. Invest in some lanterns that are suitable for outdoors as these can act as the perfect accessories. I put flameless candles inside mine which are ideal as they are battery operated so not only are they safe but they don’t go out should there be a breeze. Being outside in the candlelight is really special.

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At the other end of the spectrum is quintessential England. Many opt for a court yard approach with a tiled veranda, greenery, picturesque statues, large mirrors, wooden partitioning, to create a cosy spot full of English charm. When it comes to fabrics use Sunbrella fabric for your settees and ottomans; it is extremely hard-wearing, easy to clean and the colour range fantastic.

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One of my favourite purchases this year has been the Dedon Swingrest chair. Perfect for suspending on a porch, terrace or even outdoors. It is a basket-like structure which boasts a rotating table top and elegant suspension system. Definitely the ultimate in a hanging sofa.

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I have noticed a huge rise in outdoor furniture ranges in the last 12 months. Stylish, luxurious furniture is now easier to find, which is perfect for me in my line of work! I have also noticed the traditional pieces have had a makeover, take this outdoor furniture set for example, the rattan weave is much thicker than we’re used to and gets my vote.

Lastly, outdoor bars are the ultimate cool. I have one at my home and it gets so much use throughout summer. They’re actually fairly simple to build, use wood to keep costs down and as long as you have a flat surface, fridge and some bar stools you are ready to entertain. One of the best additions to my garden!

So whether it’s an impressive terrace, colourful cabana, or quaint garden, show off what you have and make the most of your space. Make it innovative, spacious, elegant and refined.

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Where to Buy:

  • If you are shopping around Indian Ocean produce very well-appointed sun loungers and their fabrics are exquisite (www.indian-ocean.co.uk)
  • Sunbrella fabric is perfect for everyday use and highly cost-effective (www.sunbrella.com)
  • Sky Line have an impressive selection of days beds, furniture sets and dining (www.skylinedesign.com)
  • I recommend Petti Rossi for outdoor lanterns – you’ll find a great selection through them (www.pettirossi.co.uk)
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