15 ways to improve your outdoor living space
Outdoor living is a huge trend. As well as warmer summers drawing us outdoors, the global pandemic saw many of us turning our attention to outdoor spaces for safer socialising. And so it’s time to turn your attention to al fresco decor – in the summer, your outside entertaining space should be as considered as your indoor decor scheme. From fences and flooring to garden furniture, Good Homes magazine offers 15 outdoor living ideas to improve your space…
First, let’s break it down into three key areas to tackle:
- Fencing and flooring: Pay as much attention to your outdoor floors and walls as you would your interiors, creating interest with a mix of colours and materials. Add fretwork fencing panels to the top of low walls for privacy, or use them to create garden zones. In terms of flooring, composite, wood and stone are all good, hardwearing options.
- Create shady spots: An awning, pergola or converted outbuilding means you can embrace your outdoor living ideas without worrying about privacy, shelter from the sun or whatever the weather might throw at you.
- Find the best garden furniture for your space: Use a combination of comfy chairs, cushions, rugs and a coffee table to turn your garden into a stylish outdoor living space for relaxing, dining and entertaining from day to evening.
15 outdoor living ideas
1. Outdoor tiles
Add personality to your home by using outdoor tiles in different colours and patterns, rather than just the standard grey or stone. Tie them in with your wall or fencing and you’ll have a beautifully stylish space to be proud of.
More outdoor tile ideas:
- Top left: Urban tiles in Callizo, £59.55 per sqm from Fired Earth
- Top right: Deck Chair Porcelain exterior tile in Rhubarb & Custard, £65.75 per sqm from Ca’Pietra
- Bottom left: Sorrento Outdoor tiles, from £103 per sqm from Otto Tiles
- Bottom right: Leinz Estrella Outdoor Decor Tiles, £38.95 from Walls and Floors
2. Blur indoor-outdoor living boundaries
Rather than zoning areas, blur the boundaries between in and outdoors by using the same flooring to create a seamless flow. Just make sure to check the flooring you use is suitable for outdoor use.
3. Create a secluded area
If you want to create a secluded garden nook, Habitat’s Samoa seating with integrated, modular fence panels can be configured as you please, and picked up and moved if you change your mind. The slatted fencing panes offer privacy and protection from the wind.
4. Use plants as privacy screens
Whether it’s tall bamboo, boxwood or a vast number of palms and hedging, using plants instead of fencing can make a more attractive option while still giving you the seclusion you need. If you opt for bamboo, keep in mind it can be invasive, so consider picking a slow-spreading clumping variety, or grow it in planters instead.
5. Create garden zones
A change of flooring can signify a different part of your garden, so use decking, tiles or even an outdoor rug to zone individual spaces. Read how Good Homes magazine editor Karen Walker went about zoning her own garden here.
OUTDOOR LIVING IDEAS FROM REAL HOMES
- A subtropical garden makeover in Hertfordshire
- Garden makeover: a zoned outdoor space for dining and socialising
- Love Island-inspired garden revamp wins Aldi-Fresco competition
6. Arrange seating around a focal point
Whether it’s a central firepit or a dining table (or both!), grouping seating around a central piece creates a more welcoming, ordered layout.
7. Use multifunctional outdoor furniture
If your outdoor furniture needs to cater for everything from a morning coffee to entertaining guests, opt for a multifunctional set that does it all. The clever Porto garden set from Marks & Spencer features a height-adjusting table can works as both a coffee table, dining table and sundowner cocktail spot.
8. Add a side table
Outdoor seating arrangements often fall short on places to put your drinks. Whether you have a large garden or more compact balcony or patio, a small side table is a must to rest coffee cups, teapots, wine glasses and, of course, your latest issue of Good Homes magazine. Plus, they’re easy to move.
9. Bring indoor furniture outdoors
Pick sofas, chairs and tables that you can use outside during the summer and that fit just as easily inside when needed. Comfort, looks, colour and material are all things to consider.
10. Create an outdoor snug
11. Add a garden marquee
If you’ve got the room, why not invest in an elegant tent or marquee? It’s a great way to create a festival-like atmosphere, while providing shade from the sun and shelter from any drizzly outbreaks. The below design is roomy enough for 10-12 guests to dine, or 18-20 people standing.
12. Indoor-outdoor living with an awning
Whether it’s the glaring sun or a tiny bit of drizzle, an awning can create a practical shaded spot. Go for a fully motorised design to make it easy to operate.
13. Add a garden bar
Garden bars have never been so popular, and this design is perfect for you to paint, decorate or leave as is. Plus, in the months you’re not using it for drinks, you can keep it as a functioning shed for storage, too. Read the Good Homes’ guide to creating a garden bar here.
14. Don’t forget garden lighting
If you want to enjoy your outdoor living room long into the night, then you’ll need some suitable lighting for both practicality and ambience. Add colourful boho vibes to your garden by hanging outdoor solar lanterns from a tree or pergola.
15. Consider an outbuilding
If you have a large garden and want to make the most of the space, perhaps to add guest accommodation or a home office, consider a shepherd’s hut, egg-shaped pod or a yurt. They also provide a secluded spot to escape to if you have a house full!