As we head towards summer and hopefully some warmer weather, our attention turns to gardens and outdoor spaces, how can we maximise these and what are the trends to look out for? Andy Richardson, managing director at interior design specialists, Edward Thomas Interiors explains…
“As Covid restrictions have, until very recently, limited all our face-to-face socialising to outdoors, it’s not surprising there’s been a nationwide effort to make our gardens and outdoor spaces as attractive and functional as possible. Demand for garden furniture is far outstripping supply as homeowners seek to make these areas work for entertaining, relaxing, gardening, growing vegetables, cooking, watching nature, working – the list is seemingly endless! So how can we start to transform our spaces?
“The transition towards thinking of the garden as an extension of the home has really materialised in recent months and the boundaries between inside and out have well and truly blurred. Just as our homes have had to become multi-functional, so to have our gardens and outdoor spaces. Add cosy corner furniture and a fire pit and they’re a dining room; a sand pit or mud garden and they’re a child’s playroom; a built-in pizza oven or BBQ and they’re a kitchen; a vegetable patch or greenhouse and they’re a hobby space. But how does this work without appearing chaotic? Consider how your space could be sectioned by adding physical differences such as split levels, gabion walls or stepping stones but also with more temporary options like bamboo screens, reed fencing, wood panelling, even outdoor wall paints can aid differentiation.
“Another rapidly popular option is the addition of a summerhouse or garden pod; a dedicated and permanent structure away from the main home. With working from home now firmly established, these buildings provide a great alternative office space, especially for households where there’s more than one person working or home-schooling. This being said, we’ve also seen some really creative pod usage recently in the form of gyms, cinemas, bars, yoga studios, salons, playrooms and outdoor lounges so don’t be afraid to be imaginative!
“It’s widely documented that gardens have also been central to people’s mental health and wellbeing during the lockdowns by providing access to greenery and the outdoors. In house hunting terms, they were one of the most desirable commodities. In fact, I believe ‘garden’ and ‘balcony’ were both included in Rightmove’s top 10 search terms for 2020. For homes with limited outdoor space this doesn’t have to be a deterrent and we’ve seen some really inventive solutions such as doorstep gardens with rustic potted plants, vertical window box vegetable gardens and cosy, hygge-style bistro balconies. The key is making it somewhere you want to spend time.
“Our advice is to think about the styling of your garden as much as your home. What do you want the primary use to be? By getting the basics right, investing in good quality outdoor furniture that can withstand the changing UK weather for instance, you can then personalise as you go. There’s a great selection of outdoor accessories available on the high street and online – rugs, cushions, freestanding or hanging lanterns, ornaments, mirrors – meaning you can change the look to match the season!”