Every year, when spring and summer start to shine, we all start talking about how to bring the outdoors in. The thought being that al fresco living puts a spring in our step, ergo inviting it inside too means we can make the most of it. But what about taking the indoors out? A topsy-turvy approach, yes, though one that, for us, makes perfect sense. The sitting room is generally the space everybody thinks of when you want to relax somewhere comfy. It’s the place you retire to, the place where you curl up. So, why not double-up your living room space? One for inside, and the other in your great outdoors.
Here are our five tips for doing just that.
Think small, not big
Garden zoning is when you section up different parts of your garden to do different things. And it’s absolutely the right approach when you’re trying to create an outdoor version of your living room. By focusing on a small area, it naturally mirrors your interior – the whole of your downstairs isn’t one big sitting room, so neither should your garden be – and always adds to the feeling of comfort and cosiness. Concentrate on the obvious living room pieces to begin with – an outdoor sofa is non-negotiable.
Make a feature out of passages and covered pathways
A sense of a sitting room isn’t all about the zone itself. Consider what leads up to that area of your garden and how you’re going to set the scene – again, much like what’s going on inside your house. Narrower sections of your garden can be treated as mini rooms too. We like to think of them as like a hallway or entryway, with a console table on the one side that you can use as a potting table and an outdoor light or hurricane lantern to set the tone when the sun has started to set.
Softly does it
This one’s hardly rocket science, but the effect that cushions and blankets have on a garden is often underestimated. Interior cushions and blankets are far nicer than ones designed for outdoors. You can take some from your living room outside with you, but if you don’t want to ‘undress’ your living room while you’re in the garden, you could get a few extra cushions and throws to use outside. And when it’s time to go in, use them in secondary rooms like guest bedrooms or on a window ledge.
It’s not all about terracotta
We love terracotta pots for our gardens, but outdoor planters aren’t where it ends. Much like with cushions, to encourage your living room zone to feel like the real thing, bring out with you a small collection of vases, pots and any other decorative pieces to style your space as you would your interior. Try to look beyond the fact you’re outside…
…while not forgetting you’re outside
The garden sitting room is 100 per cent trying to mimic your interior, but, for obvious reasons, it can’t be a replica – a bookcase in the garden might not see through a single summer, and don’t get us started on the television. It’s a version of. Instead, we asked Caroline Beck, flower farmer and garden writer for the likes of Gardens Illustrated and House & Garden, if she had any tips on decorating with flowers: “Planting can create intimacy, or it can make an area feel even more perfect for that summer gin and tonic with pals. The same thought you give to your garden sofa should be given to the planting – it’s a question of style and what sort of feeling you’re trying to achieve. Me? I like to create a simple, fragrant setting that feels fresh and awakens me, so I love using lots of herbs in that area of my own garden. The parameters for planting are vast though. It’s certainly worth investing the time in doing in-depth research, or consulting a gardener to find a balance that suits your soil but that also has a clear purpose in your al fresco living room’s scheme.”