How to: Live Life Outdoors

Recreate the comfort of indoor living outside and make more of your garden this year with our style guide.

Outdoor living is one of the biggest home trends in recent years. We're used to talking about bringing the outdoors in, and now we're also taking the indoors out, creating dining and lounging areas that invite you to spend more time outside. It's all about having the comfort and convenience of your home in the garden.And thanks to the outdoor materials available now, you can use furniture, accessories, lighting and heating to create a genuinely functional and inviting 'outside room'.


The basics

The key is choosing the right set – or piece – of furniture for your needs and then finding the perfect place to put it. If you’re living with old furniture you’ll be amazed at how incredibly comfortable many new designs are. Be sure to thoroughly test out any furniture you're thinking of buying – comfort should be a top priority. You wouldn’t risk an uncomfortable sofa for your living room, and outdoors shouldn't be any different.

But before heading out to try furniture for size, take a stroll around your garden and make a plan. It's worth really thinking through where you want to put furniture. Do you fancy eating your breakfast under the fruit tree or are you more likely to sit under the stars and enjoy an evening tipple? A cosy reading spot, a sophisticated dinner party location or a setting for children's parties? You might want one big set that can cover every option, or choose several smaller, more versatile sets that give you more options in different settings.


Two may be better than one

It’s worth considering two seating areas in almost every garden: one for gatherings close to the house and another where you can enjoy a quiet moment a little further away.
A sheltered bit of the garden screened by taller plants, a pergola or some cleverly planned trellis can feel a world away, even if it's only a few steps from the back door. It's here that a hammock, swing seat or comfy sofa is ideal. Sun lovers may prefer a sunny spot for their haven while shade lovers will prefer a seat under a pergola or tree. Hanging candle lanterns nearby will accentuate the intimate atmosphere.

As for style, there's enough choice to guarantee that you'll find furniture that matches your personality and home, whether you have a traditional plot or a slick urban garden.
Do you prefer to eat around a table or kick back and gossip on comfy cushions? Is a barbecue or a brick-built oven more your style? It may sound obvious, but avoid placing your dining set close to bins, or where you're overlooked – choose a sunny spot where you can create some privacy and enjoy the scent of perfumed plants. If you use an area close to the house, it means you'll be able to put up electric lighting on walls. Lighting is far more expensive to install at the far end of the garden.


Extra touches

There are lots of accessories you can add to your furniture that can be moved around for flexibility. Some throws and extra cushions can help if there’s a breeze in the air.
Cushions that come with outdoor furniture sets are usually designed for outdoor use, so don’t be put off by textiles. You can alway bring some out from inside, too. Candles and lanterns can help with both lighting and atmosphere, while a firepit will provide a focal point as well as warmth, and accessories such as ornaments, rugs and throws will really make it feel like another 'room'.

Cater for everyone

For a truly functional space, it's a good idea to consider children's needs, too. After all, if you keep them entertained, you'll be able to get on with gardening or relaxing as fits your mood. Outdoor bean bags are ideal for kids of all ages and easily moved from sun to shade as the situation requires. A parasol can be handy for both young and old if your garden doesn't have shady spots. And a few carefully chosen outdoor games will keep everyone entertained. There are plenty of options that are genuinely good fun for young and old. With the whole family this happy, you'll hardly need to venture inside again.