5 Top Tips for Outdoor Living

Outdoor_Living_Area
Thanks to Style by Emily Henderson for the Image

My first post!  We’ve been experiencing some typically changeable British weather this week but I thought I would start on a hopeful note with a fresh, summery Top 5.

1   Zone your space

You may have a huge plot or be working with something not much larger than a postage stamp, either way think about how you can zone the space you do have. Creating different areas within your garden needs to be practical but can also be well designed.  View your outdoor area as an additional room, an extension of your home and have fun with textiles and colour – you may find yourself being more daring than you would be inside!  What do you plan on doing in your garden?  If you have young children you will likely want a safe area for them to play and whilst lawns are great, what about a teepee den or wet play box – but don’t forget an area for the adults too! I am a sucker for sketching out layouts and I can assure you that my creative talents are limited when it comes to drawing, but have a go, it’s always useful to visualise and if you’re really keen there is some great free software for designing plans.  If you like entertaining then zoning your eating area with a table and chairs is almost essential.  You want to be able to easily move around the table but need to look at the flow of the space, for example, you wouldn’t want to place your table directly in front of the kitchen door or too close to the BBQ.  Having a formal eating area works well but if you can, zone off a comfier seating area for once you’re done eating – I’m envisaging a couple of stripy deckchairs and bean bags as well as some bright, geometric or Aztec print scatter cushions to perch on top of raised railway sleepers.  The all important BBQ can be the hub of your space or tucked away but bare in mind you need to be in a safe position with good ventilation, away from any flammable materials. Plus, your head BBQ chef may not want to be too far from the rest of the party.

Now you have an idea of how your garden will flow you can think about decorating it!

2   Textiles

Apply the same principals as if you were decorating an indoor room.  Add some colour and a feeling of comfort with a mix of cushions, placed neatly on dining chairs or scattered across a bench, wall or piled up on the floor.  Go cheap and cheerful for heavy, ‘one summer’ use or invest a little more on zipped covers you can wash or material that can be wiped clean. Beanbags may divide opinion in the home but I think suit outdoor living well as they are adaptable and (secretly) loved by adults as much a kids.  Perfect for propping against a wall, using as a footstool or nestling a sleeping baby (or adult!). As the night draws in and the temperature drops, make the most of the evening by wrapping up in a throw or blanket. You can pick up cheap blankets in most high street homeware stores, perfect for using frequently and throwing in the wash at the end of the Summer.  If, like me, you see such things as an investment, something which will always be used and not really go out of fashion, go for a blanket with a percentage of wool as they’re much warmer and will last for years (although more delicate if frequently washing). Lastly, we would all use a blanket when picnicking at the park so following along the same lines how about putting a rug outdoors?  I’m not suggesting an expensive, thick pile, wool blend that many of us have in our living room but you can either get creative and make a rag tie rug or pick one up second hand. I love the idea of having a rug in the centre of the comfy seating area and this is certain to make your garden feel like an outdoor room.

3   Lighting

Most of us have cottoned on to the clever effects of good lighting in a room and how it can set a mood, this can be applied to your garden too.  Have a low wall or raised flower bed? Line up a row of old jam jars with tea lights inside.  Already have a couple of the oh so fashionable glass lanterns in your house, the candles inside having never seen a match? Bring them outdoors! Huddle them together in a dark corner for a warm glow.  Fairy lights may be a divider for some people but imagine static white LED’s around a parasol, along a fence or gently draping over a shrub or tree (avoid anything too ‘flashy’ and always go for a nude light – it’s not Christmas).  Paraffin stick lanterns act as good boundary markers particularly if your guests will be exiting via the back gate down the side of your house  – light the way for them.  To dress your table you could go for a couple of large church candles, an odd number of different sized candles or tea lights – try and have a couple of citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay.

A good tip for arranging groups of similar objects is if they are all the same colour, go for a group of different sizes or textures and if they’re all different colours, have them the same size.

4   Games

Most strong trends experience a revival after a few years and traditional garden games have been back for a while and don’t seem to be going anywhere quickly.  Those who know me well are used to my opinion on banning noisy, plastic toys ruining my lounge (or garden) so I am more than happy to keep the trend for wooden toys going for years to come.  Kids may laugh at the simplicity of skittles, 4 in a row and Hoopla but they are soon almost as transfixed as they would be with an electronic game and adults struggle to deny their enjoyment too.  You can hire games for around £25 which would be good value if you were having a big shindig but keep an eye out for second hand games on sale and auction sites and at car boot sales.

5   Accessories

The amount of garden accessories available nowadays is almost as large as those for our homes and whilst this is great, it can be overwhelming (and costly) if you can’t decide what to buy and end up with too much.  Think practically. I know this can be hard when the design element of your brain is overstimulated with the array of colours and textures on offer! As with any shopping it is always better to have a list of what you need before you go and don’t forget to look through your house for anything you already have which would work with your outdoor scheme.  For example, do you really need a new set of beautifully bright plastic crockery? Instead, just buy the pretty gemstone coloured tumblers and use your everyday plates and bowls. When I think about my dream garden being put to use on a balmy summers evening (remember this is a hopeful post!) I envisage a wooden table with a patterned table runner, flowers, candles and food.  Some of us don’t have a dining space indoors so why not go all out and really dress up your outdoor table. Have any spare wallpaper lying around? I know I’ve got at least two brand new rolls leftover from various projects, stored in the cupboard in case I want to use them again (which is unlikely as I won’t want to do the same scheme twice) so, measure the length of your table and cut a piece of wallpaper to suit, leaving a little extra to hang over at each end.  Place a couple of vases of seasonal blooms on the table with some candles in between and you have a quick, cheap but stunning table. The table runner can be recycled at the end of the evening and the vases brought indoors for you to enjoy the scent of summer for days to come.

Thanks for reading

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