Creating My Own Outdoor Living Room
Our outdoor space was a compromise when we bought our Victorian house, one worth making for the number of rooms and proximity to very good schools, a deli, the train station and a large park. But, I have never used it enough, always felt like it was an area fenced off, full of plastic kids’paraphernalia, keeping them safe while they were small, but too much hassle to tidy up, and spend time in as an adult.
Time moves on, the kids want to be at the park with their friends and so this year, I decided to reclaim the space for me and my husband, to embrace the outdoor room trend which I have written about in a corresponding post, and to have somewhere to relax in with a glass of something chilled on a summer’s evening.
This isn’t a huge space. It is north facing so challenging growing grass, and oftentimes plants, but the challenge of both the space and the light, allows me to show you that no matter what outside space you have, you can create something that works just for you.
A few years ago, fed up with no greenery whatsoever, I had two sleeper beds created on each side of my outdoor space, you can see one below. I also bought several very large pots and started to create a planting scheme. Because this garden is north facing, Ferns, Japanese Acers, Grasses, Euphorbia and Japonica, do very well out here, and over time I have matured some large specimen plants, which provide a good structure to garden. I also have Eucalyptus trees, which are extremely fast growing, and hydrangeas, because I love to use both of these indoors, and it is so much easier to pop out into the garden for flowers and foliage than to buy it.
This year, I have added to my planting scheme with a range of planters from MADE.com. The Noor planters in black metal, add a different texture, come in differing heights, and as you can see beside the sofa at the back of the garden, this allows me to play with planting structure, texture and height, making the space cosier.
I also added terrazzo pots (Hakuun, Malin) and planters in pink (Echo) to add a little colour to the relatively neutral planting scheme which I have deliberately kept to red and green, with the occasional white flower. I utilised structural grasses and Japonica to give the scheme more texture.
We bought our outdoor sofa with cushions from Argos last year, and the outdoor table was a gift from Vonhaus, part of a garden campaign in 2018. I wanted to add to this furniture, since we had previously just pushed it into a sunny corner, not making the most of the space at all. I opened out the sofas, across two sides of the garden, added a folding Adirondack chair in wood (contrasting texture) and the Lyra hanging chair. There is something soporific about swinging in a cool breeze in the sunshine, although there is always a fight over who gets to sit in it.
Outdoor rugs from La Redoute and Made.com, make the space feel more like an outdoor living room, and soften the stone slabs. I also added cushions from MADE.com, Homesense and Chloe Croft London. All textiles are made specifically for outdoors, and while you wouldn’t want to leave them outside in the weather indefinitely, they do cope with the odd rain shower if you forget to take them in on an evening.
Finally, an outdoor fire pit ensures we can stay out after dark, a requirement if you live in Yorkshire or anywhere else where the temperature drops rapidly after dark.
My artwork is plastic coated which means it can survive outside (and has done for two years) and I have strung white bunting through the trees.
Lighting and atmosphere come into play after dark, if you want to utilise your space. Throughout the garden I have collected lanterns, either from my trip to Morocco or bought from the high street, and I have filled them with outdoor candles on a timer. They come on at dusk and go off 6 hours later. Festoon Lights are strung across the garden and I have added fairy lights into some of the bushes. Collectively, these make the garden a great place to sit out in after dark.
For me, the garden is a great place to sit and unwind after a busy week at work. I guess this is part of creating a biophilic home, that allows you to de-stress and live closer to nature. Now, I only need the sunshine to last for the rest of the summer.
I hope I have shown you that no matter how small your space is, you can create a little haven, a place for you to sit and just be. It doesn’t all have to be created at once. In fact, when considering a planting scheme, it would be too expensive to do so. But, plants grow quickly, so start small and soon you can have a garden that is full of structure and texture. Even if you only have room for a couple of pots and a wooden chair on a balcony, connecting with nature and the outdoors is good for the soul.
The Girl with The Green Sofa