Outdoor Living


1The garden is now firmly established as an additional room and with the clever use of mirrors, lighting and seating, it can feel as cosy as your favourite armchair. Words: Gillian Upton.

“The garden space has become as important as an indoor room of a house,” says Barry Burrows, Managing Director of Bartholomew Landscaping. And it’s not just a question of turning the garden into practical, usable space but something that is visually stunning to view from inside, especially during the bleak winter and autumn months.

Gardens are becoming idyllic oases of calm, dramatically lit, with a water feature, textured walls, a firepit, outdoor kitchen, seating that wouldn’t look amiss inside the house and living walls of greenery.

ABOVE: Popular floating benches with bespoke cushions and firepit from Harrington Porter.

2“People are shifting away from white limestone and stark ten-in-a-row pleached trees to more rustic materials such as warm reclaimed wood, random York stone, old London stock bricks and reclaimed granite setts, together with timber furniture, herbaceous borders and delphiniums. They’ll have to start gardening again!”

Seating is the focal point in any garden and Harrington Porter’s Director Chris Harrington advocates an L-shaped bench. “Then you can drag a table to it and create seating for eight people.” He warns not to build storage underneath as it will never be waterproof.

Bartholomew Landscaping mixes sandstone, timber and a real fire against a backdrop of birch and cherry trees.

3Small but perfectly formed
The challenge with some Victorian terraced homes is garden size; some can be little more than a courtyard or long and narrow. However, with clever design elements, including uplighters, raised beds, a trio of olive trees, decking and built-in seating, they can truly be transformed into a chic alfresco dining room.

Having it all: Crittal doors from Alco Glass overlooking a well-lit garden and back extension, designed by And Architects.

4Lazy days of summer
“People’s lives are so busy now and they’re not doing as much gardening,” says Lowri Allpress, Director of Jo Alexander. “It’s all about parasols and cushions, that whole entertaining and relaxing space to make the outdoors an extension of the home.” One of their most popular lines is the day bed – great big loungers topped by oversized cushions.

Day bed from Jo Alexander.

5Take the rough with the smooth
It’s another room now, not a garden,” says Phil Haynes of Norstone. His company’s range of colour cladding is perfect for feature walls, outdoor fireplaces and kitchens, or as a backdrop to dramatic water features.

Textured feature wall from Norstone.

6On the sidelines
Awkward side entrances can be difficult to integrate into the main garden but panels of horizontal slats on top of white painted rendered walls does the trick, together with carefully positioned planters.

Horizontal slats and a row of succulents from Osborn Interiors.


Light up, light up
Framed, mirrored panels will give the illusion of space, as will uplighters on feature trees, shrubs or pergolas and steps. A lighting plan will give the whole garden an uplift.

Mirrored panels from Osborn Interiors. Extensive garden lighting from John Cullen Lighting. Deck lighting from Empire Builders.

11A taste of the exotic
John Osborn Design transformed an 8-metre square, little-used end-of-terrace garden in Abbeville Village into a stylish outdoor living and entertaining area reminiscent of the owners’ travels to Ibiza and Thailand. Firepit from The Firepit Company, tiles from Bedrock, grass from Sedum Supply, slatted fence from Contemporary Fencing, sun loungers from Connections At Home.

John Osborn Design.

13Whatcha’ got cooking?
Barbecues have been taken over by all-singing, all-dancing outdoor kitchens with integrated fridges, sinks and somewhere to chop the salad.

Island kitchen with granite surface is fuelled by bottled gas hidden in a steel cabinet, by Indian Ocean, £14,995.


12Rake’s progress
Take convenience one step farther and use artificial or sedum grass; an annual rake is far less labour-intensive than a weekly mow in summer. That way you can just sit back and relax in your outdoor space.

Raised flowerbeds, painted slats, artificial grass and uplighters, designed by The Gorgeous Garden Company.


Bottoms down
All-weather furniture – such as concrete tables and built-in seating – metal planters, and striking ferns and succulents will create that versatile indoor-outdoor space for year-round use.

Roma polished concrete table from Jo Alexander. In-built seating and colourful cushions from The Gorgeous Garden Company.

15Water wonder
The tinkling of water is a soothing addition to any garden. “Water features have moved on now and they’re more stylish,” says Norstone’s Phil. Running water, whether it’s a fountain or waterfall, adds an eye-catching element to any garden. A plain wall with a slit is a popular design and allows water to cascade down.

Norstone’s ochre rock panel with water feature.

Room to manoeuvre
Add another room in the garden for a get-away-from-it-all study, gym, somewhere for teenagers to chill or as a quiet retreat from the bustle of the house. Double-glazed windows, thermal insulation and good security mean they’re cosy and secure for all seasons, whatever use they may perform.


Left: UK-made Smart Garden Offices’ Ultra range kicks off from £8,652.
Right: German-made organic-shaped OfficePod in powder-coated steel, from £15,000.




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