Whether you have a balcony or a backyard, outdoor space is often overlooked. It can be possible to use this extra room for all sorts of activities and extend your living zone.
Think about this new area in the same way that you would consider your indoor space: is it casual, modern, traditional or fun? If you want to feel comfortable, it needs to be an extension of your home and a reflection of your personality.
First of all, consider how you intend to use this additional area. Is it a place for cooking and entertaining, exercise or relaxation? Once you have established the purpose, you can begin to plan the layout and explore your style options.
Depending on the purpose, you may want to consider whether to have power supplied outside, or keep the space free of electricity and save money on your energy bills. This will effect how you deal with light and heating.
Solar powered lighting can be very effective and can be moved easily to suit your needs. String lights are popular, they can be plain, coloured or shaped. Lanterns are very effective, with candles that can use either real flame or LED lights. Consider the safety aspects of any lighting you use.
Heating is another safety consideration. Fire pits and chimineas are romantic real-flame centrepieces, but ensure you have room to accommodate them. Outdoor gas heaters come in a range of styles from small to free-standing, practical to pretty, with something to suit every budget.
Barbecues can be simple, practical cooking stations but outdoor kitchens are the next level in home entertainment. Six burner gas hobs, sinks and beer fridges, these modules can all be tailored to your entertaining needs. Finance is often available to make these expensive additions possible for anyone with enough outdoor space.
Of course, an outdoor kitchen should be under cover to protect it from the elements. Shade is vital, providing some relief from relentless summer sun. Umbrellas and pergolas can be versatile, simple and easy to move. Awnings can be manual, pull-down shades or fully automated integral systems.
Any furniture that you buy should be suitable for outdoor living, strong enough to withstand summer heat and winter cold. Most outdoor equipment incorporates modern materials with durable, weather resistant surfaces. Buy the best you can afford and check if the manufacturer offers any warranty.
Cushions can add a splash of colour to your décor. Wipeable or washable covers will add to the lifespan of soft furnishings, allowing easy cleaning after any messy spills. Throws and blankets add a touch of softness and texture to your outdoor space, remember to provide a weatherproof box or basket to store them at the end of the day.
Finally, don’t forget to add plants and greenery to your outdoor space. Grass can be high maintenance, so there are astro-turf options for those who would rather sip a cool drink in their new living area. Don’t make room for a bar or drinks trolley!
By E C Russell