Some dream of a sun-drenched terracotta Tuscan courtyard surrounded by Olive trees and shades that ripple in the breeze. For others, a rain speckled English herb garden wafts its scent over a leisurely lunch wrapped up in rugs.
A thoughtfully designed garden can become an extension of your home, and for many can transform into a feature room of its own. The fantasy of the perfect garden, accessorised with beautiful furniture and styled with charm, is the mainstay of design magazines and Instagram, and always changing.
Here, Mel Turton, Managing Director & Principal Designer at Turton + Oliver, shares her thoughts on weaving traditional tailored craftsmanship with contemporary style to help you achieve a space that feels welcoming, and stands the test of time.
Size and functionality must come first
Approach your garden or outdoor space the same way you might consider tackling a redecoration project for a bedroom or lounge. For example, your furniture selections and design should be largely influenced by how big or small your area is and what you typically intend to use it for, as these selections can always be manipulated to fit with the space you are working with.
Do you host large gatherings or typically use it for small family dinners and relaxing? Work out your requirements before any other considerations. By considering the size of the space you’re working with, you can make optimal use of the area.
Planning will take the stress out of everything
You know what it’s like - you see beautiful objects and on a whim you purchase because you just have to have it, only to find it doesn’t fit or quite match what you had in mind. It’s common to dive straight in and get caught up with the excitement of purchasing pieces without making considered selections that will fit and suit the space they are working with. However, this leads to wrong choices and regret, something you want to avoid when embarking on an exciting project.
It is important to know the approximate size you are working with and take important measurements before the furniture selection stage – working out an initial spatial plan ensures no wrong choices are made and everything comes together perfectly.
The spatial planning aspect will take the drama out of making selections and visualising your perfect space.
Discover your individuality taste and style
Sometimes the sheer volume and choice on offer can seem overwhelming, and you may be influenced by many different styles or designs.
Creating inspiration boards are a great way to start honing in on your own personal taste and visualising how you see your space looking. Work out what styles and images you are most drawn to and start gathering inspiration. This will most likely present a favoured design style that you have envisioned for your space and are gravitating towards. It all comes down to the likes or dislikes of the people inhibiting the space, a quality design is one that fits the owners needs and personality, as this generally dictates choices.
Your vision or inspiration board is the perfect place to be inspired by designers, craftspeople and stylists. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, which can spark design ideas or present images that represent what you may already have in mind, allowing you to better envision your ideas. Home magazines are always a great start for inspiration also, as they are full of different projects and unique design styles, helping you to determine what you like or dislike. Visiting furniture or design stores is another good way to draw inspiration, allowing you to see, touch and test products in person.
Simplicity is sacred
A great outdoor setup usually comprises two simple things: Comfortable seating and great lighting - which is typically overlooked but just as important. A cosy outdoor rug which anchors the space and adds warmth and comfort, can also make all the difference. Often, it’s the little trifles that can complete a space.
Think of your garden as an extension of your home
Do you want a space that’s the opposite of your home or something that feels very similar? The choice is up to you. No design style is right or wrong as it ultimately comes down to personal taste. If you want your garden or outdoor space to stand the test of time; it is vital to ensure that your furniture aligns with your style and your home’s aesthetic – your outdoor space should be a natural extension of your home so treat it like another room.
Managing your budget
Remodelling your garden on a regular basis is likely to hit your purse strings hard and may not be a sustainable approach to furnishing, so consider products that will maintain their quality over time. One example is fabric. Fabric is an important investment when selecting furniture. Investing in this at the beginning by selecting a fabric that has durable, weatherproof properties that are designed to withstand the stress of being outside ensures that your furniture will take you through for a long time. The world of outdoor fabrics has evolved, you are no longer limited to a select range and can now enjoy luxurious, quality fabrics that rival interior textile properties.
Make the most of a small space
A small outdoor space isn’t a lost cause - however, less is more in this instance. You do not want to clutter your space with unnecessary elements. Work out the necessary pieces and select furniture that is going to complement the size of the space and create efficiency. Great lighting design can help to draw your eye up by highlighting vertical or horizontal surfaces, giving the outdoor area the illusion of additional space and enhancing the mood.
Invest in timeless classics
Neutral and textural is always a good base for your furniture, allowing these pieces to be timeless. Organic and textural elements are very on-trend right now, however they tend to stand the test of time and provide a solid foundation to your setup. Adding pops of colour or patterns through accessories is always a good idea, as these will add interest and can easily be swapped out when you are wanting to freshen up the look.
Remove the hard work up front
By making considered choices at the start of your design journey, you’re removing lots of extra maintenance work throughout the year to ensure your space looks welcoming every season. Selecting fabrics that are easily washable or even removable is a handy tip to keeping furniture looking fresh. If you desire a space that is low maintenance, make informed decisions with the elements in this space e.g. plants, that won’t have you slaving away to keep your area looking tidy.