Design Project by John Lewis No.150 Smoke Glass Lantern, Small
Turn your outdoor space into an inviting spot for relaxing and entertaining – why go anywhere else?
With last summer a scorcher and few options for getting away, our gardens and outdoor spaces really came into their own. And while it's perfectly fine to stick with dusting off a deckchair and heading for the sunniest/shadiest spot (depending on your preference), think how appealing this space could be with a little TLC – and how much more you’d use it.
Thankfully, it doesn't take much to turn a terrace, balcony or patch of garden into a dedicated outdoor living room and here's how…
Start by finding the right spot for your living area. It’s not necessarily directly outside the back door – although you do want to be close enough to the house for transporting drinks, food and the like. The end of the garden can often be the sweet spot, benefitting from a little separation and with fencing on all sides to create privacy. Consider how the light falls, the fixed features of the garden and the view too.
What makes your perfect outdoor living room? Is it a hidden retreat or is it all about gathering the clan? Comfortable seating is at heart of any living room so make sure there’s room for everyone with a variety of seating from comfy sofas to pouffes and footstools that will expand capacity as needed. And play with the way you arrange that furniture – it’s a golden opportunity to make the space more of a destination. Layering up outdoor rugs is an easy way to definine boundaries and lighting can work similarly in the evening, bathing the area with a welcoming glow.
Award-winning interior stylist Maxine Brady (@maxinebradystyling) suggests going as far as decorating. ‘Wooden fences can be dark and imposing but a lick of paint can change all that,’ she says. ‘Lighter shades and white work well in small gardens and if you want to make a larger space cosy, navy, green or even black are great choices. Pick out other elements such as pots and planters by painting in complimentary colours – it’s a great way to highlight your planting.’
As with an indoor living room, your outdoor space should work beautifully through the day and into the evening, and all your favourite ways for creating comfort and mood will happily translate. Pick a sofa that’s truly comfortable – in a small space, outdoor chairs may give more flexibility – then imagine sinking into that space. What do you need? A side table for drinks and nibbles? A light to read by, cushions to snuggle into? Tailor the space to suit you.
When the temperature drops after sundown heating will make sitting out much more comfortable. An outdoor fireplace makes an amazing focal point day and night but huddling around a fire pit can be just as magical. And every outdoor living room will benefit from a few cosy blankets.
Lighting is an essential. It certainly helps to have an outdoor plug or two but that’s by no means the only way of brightening the space. ‘I like to zigzag strings of festoon lights across the garden as they create an intimate feel,’ says Maxine. ‘Solar-powered downlighters can be added to garden fencing or walls for a wire-free approach and trailing micro solar powered fairy lights through trees and plants gives a lovely glimmer and glow.’
Philips Hue has a range of fittings and power units to create an integrated outdoor lighting system if you fancy controlling light levels from the comfort of your sofa but of course good old-fashioned candlelight can serve you well too.
One of the joys of not straying too far from home is that you should still be able to connect your tech. Whether you want to catch up on podcasts, stream Spotify or play your favourite tunes, being outside shouldn’t stop you. From bluetooth headphones to portable speakers kitting your patio out with tech is easy.
And while your garden may have beautiful vistas of its own, a few well-chosen accessories will give this space the feeling of home. A large mirror not only transforms a blank wall and creates a striking focal point, it can give the illusion of doubling your planting. Clusters of planters and accessories, meanwhile, can lead the eye towards your seating area.
‘Hanging planters are great for adding interest and I have baskets attached to my fences as well as an outdoor wreath on my back door,’ says Maxine. Don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun. In our decorative garden accessories department, you’ll find everything from artificial plant walls to garden clocks and colourful parrots. What will be going on in your garden this summer?