The Outdoor Room

We’ve had a shocking summer in 2012, this week the temperature seems to have plummeted further, so here’s hoping we see a sunnier 2013. However, the absence of sunshine is not stopping us Brits moving outside. and we’re definitely seeing a trend for the extending of family living spaces into the garden. And from our perspective the result is that garden furniture no longer looks like garden furniture. The outdoor room concept is forcing us manufacturers to create furniture that’s designed to more closely resemble indoor furniture. With large decks, summer rooms that open up to merge with the patio are blurring the line between the two with deep-seating outdoor sofa style sectionals, fully-functioning outdoor kitchens, larger dining sets that can accommodate 8 to 10 people and fire pits are all contributing to this outdoor room trend.

Rosenlund15 Garden Room

All of this is happening in a country where the weather is unpredictable to say the least. Our gut feeling is that with the economy being so tight, all this talk of double dip recessions is resulting in more and more people are staying home, entertaining friends and family at home. They’re are using their outdoor space like a living room space. We’ve even seen a home on the South Coast with a large flat-screen TV, fire and L shaped sofa all outside. Outdoor rooms are a reflection of the growing trend towards what the media are calling ‘casual living’. Lazy Susan are seeing more and more customers that are looking for furniture that’s conducive to entertaining and socialising, from outdoor dining to informal sofa style seating, maybe a chaise lounge or a bistro two-seater alongside them. Gone are the days of 4 seats and a table.

Recent technological developments in the outdoor furniture industry has allowed for more diversity in outdoor materials, from cushion fabrics to aluminum die casting, you can now create pieces that will stand up to the elements and last a lifetime. Outdoor fabrics are so superior to what they were in the past, where you could tell they were an outdoor fabric. Nowadays you simply can’t tell, gone are the days of rough canvas, in fact we’ve even known people use outdoor fabrics inside because they have children and pets. It resists staining, mildew, fading and repels water. The outdoor room is now simply an extension of the home and isn’t the whole point of having a garden is to be able to enjoy the outdoors?

However, there is so much more to creating an outdoor room than just popping a few pieces of comfy indoor style outdoor furniture on your patio. In order to achieve a truly comfortable outdoor entertaining area then you need to follow a few simple steps, especially if you want to blur those lines between the inside of your home and the outside:

  1. Clearly define the function of your outdoor space
    First off you need to decide exactly what you want to use your outdoor room for and what you want it to be. Do you want to use it for entertaining friends and family with an outdoor living or dining area? Do you want to cook outside with an outdoor kitchen? Or do you simply want an informal place to relax in with low tables and sofa style seating? Keep in mind that your outdoor room doesn’t have to be the size of your living room, you just need to make sure you have sufficient space to accomplish what you want to achieve.
  2. Choose a suitable location
    This is probably one of the most important steps if you want to blur the lines between inside and outside. The location of your outdoor room needs to be chosen carefully. In a smaller garden you’ve probably not got much in the way of options, but if you’re lucky enough to have the luxury of having a larger garden or backyard,  then you’ll have much more choice. If you already have a patio, then that would be a great place to put it. You need to choose an area that is in close proximity and easily accessible from the house. Conservatories and kitchens always seem to flow the most naturally onto an outdoor room.
  3. Clearly define the outdoor room space
    In order to make the space feel like an actual room you need to use walls or furnishings, just like you would inside, to clearly define the space. And I’m not saying that you have to literally build walls to achieve this. You can easily create natural walls by using plants or shrubs at the edges or around the perimeter of your outdoor room. Or you can simply let the outdoor furniture define the edges of your outdoor room. A timber frame pergola is another great way to define the space, making it welcoming, cozy and with some curtains or trellis you can provide a little extra shade all at the same time. And to be fair, sometimes even the flooring itself, such as decking for example, can easily define the space just as well. Make sure you use a different flooring/paving material in the outdoor room area than in the rest of the garden and this will work a treat.
  4. Create a little ambiance and lots of comfort
    Comfort and ambiance play a vital role in helping to create an outdoor room that you will use versus one that you won’t. The more welcoming and comfortable you make an outdoor room, the more likely you are to use it. Outdoor rooms are for the most part exposed to the elements, so you’ll need to take this into consideration when planning it. You may need to create some shade or shelter from the rain. And make sure you add some heating with an outdoor patio style heater or fireplace and that way you can still use when the temperature drops in the evening etc. At night create a little ambiance with outdoor lighting and candles. Another great way to create comfort is by adding lots of outdoor pillows and outdoor rugs.
  5. Keep with the same style
    The best way to create an outdoor room that is an almost seamless extension of your home is to keep the same style and materials that you have inside flowing outside. Probably the simplest way to achieve this is by using the same or similar looking flooring such as timber outside and inside to create that important flow. Also, using similar furnishings and decor scheme outside will also help bring the two spaces together. You could also bring some of the same colours from inside the house with accents and accessories or vice versa with colours from planting schemes etc inside.
  6. Bring the indoors outside
    Outdoor furniture has come such a long way in the last 5 or so years. You now have many styles and accessories to choose from and it is easier than ever to find almost any product that you can think of that you have inside in an outdoor version. Exterior design as opposed to interior design uses pretty much the same tools as but with much looser rules and greater flexibility. It’s not about mimicking, but creating a comfortable and functional outdoor living space.
  7. Find a focal point
    Another great way to merge the outside with the inside is to create a  focal point to draw the eye and create a feature of attention in the garden. Focal points can be anything from statues, planted pots, a bench, large tree or shrub, bird bath, fountain and much more. The key to focal points is not to over do it. You want people to notice your garden design, you want the two to flow into one space and not detract with a garden full of “stuff”. Yo do not want the eye drawn to all these objects at once, so that it became confusing and cluttered looking.
  8. Open up the view outside
    If you have French doors, a patio door or large picture window that overlooks your garden, then keep them clutter free so that you can show off the view outside. Keep curtains and blinds to a minimum too – ideally, chose something that can be pulled right up or right back, such as shutters or roller blinds. Folding glass or seamless doors that cantilever right back so as to be unobtrusive when open are the key to merging indoors with out. Putting as much glass as possible into the room that leads to the garden inevitably brings the outdoors in and vice versa.

Even if you have a small budget, you can still create a great outdoor room. There are so many cheap diy projects out there, from outdoor pallet furniture, outdoor rugs to outdoor lighting. All you need is your imagination and a little hard work. If budget is not an issue then you can easily create that seamless indoor/outdoor living space.  It’s not often that a home starts with the garden and ends with the kitchen. Most homeowners do it the other way around, but opening up the kitchen into your outdoor space creates a stunning design statement. With the boundaries between inside and outside the home gradually fading, interior spaces are becoming increasing linked to the exterior as designers create outdoor rooms that expand and enhance the amount and functionality of living spaces. you can have a garden indoors, a living room or library on the terrace, an outdoor bathing area steps from the bedroom – all of the living zones of the home can become a continuous rooms flowing from one to the other. The design possibilities are only limited to your imagination!

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit www.lazysusanfurniture.co.uk to find out more and view our complete product range.

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