Creating your outdoor living space is something that requires thought and planning if you want it to work properly for you and your family. Most of it is common sense with a little out of the box thinking applied. Whilst just letting it happen has it’s attractions and advantages, you will probably get more out of it if you do a small amount of thinking and planning ahead.
We have put together a short checklist of the most important things to consider to make sure you can get the most of extending your living space into your garden.
1 – Getting Around
This might seem obvious but it gets forgotten so many times and will have a huge impact on how you use your space. Before you think about what you want in your outdoor space, think how you want to use it and how you will move around it, how you will move from indoors to outdoors and on into the garden. A stylish layout is all very well but if you find yourself having to walk around a huge planter or an immovable piece of furniture every time you want to go in or out, you will soon become fed up with it and stop using your space.
2 – Shelter
If you plan to use your space for the bulk of the year, you will need some form of shelter, whether it be from rain, wind or sun. The amount of shelter you have will dictate how you use the space. Should it all be covered? Should the cover be removable or fixed? Wich area would be best to cover if you want to leave some open. Any form of shelter requires support so it should be considered early on in the planning process.
3 – Heating
Weather is unpredictable and even in the height of summer iit can be relatively chilly so to extend the time you can use your outdoor space you may need some form of heating. A Firepit can be very effective – quick and easy and often moveable. Equally gas heaters or even a fixed fireplace might fit the bill. Part of your consideration with this should also be whether you are going to cook outdoors.
3 – Furniture
Your outdoor furniture will probably be one of the major items of expenditure and you want it to last so get the best you can – think about winter storage and the care it will require. First and foremost it must be comfortable, and there must be enough space for everyone. Think about what you want to use the space for and what furniture you will need to do that easily.
4 – Dining
Part of the decision regarding furniture is around whether you want to eat outdoors. If yu do then a suitable table and chairs has to be part of your choice. There are some lovely tables that will double as a low occasional table for a quiet evening spent outdoors and convert to a dining table if space is an issue. There are lots of options around so take your time to think about what you want to achieve and make sure you get the furniture that suits yur needs.
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5 – Cooking
If you are going to eat outdoors, how much do you want to cook outdoors. If all you want is the occasional sausage then it may be that your heating choice can double up as a basic BBQ. If you want something a little more elaborate both space and safety considerations have to come into play. Having a roaring open flame BBQ under a cloth gazebo is perhaps not the wisest combination. It might be that you want more than just a BBQ – Pizza ovens are a popular option and you can go the whole hog with a full outdoor kitchen if you have the space and inclination.
6 – Flooring
Think about the flooring you want – patio, grass, decking, gravel are just some of the choices. Again it will depend very much on how you want to use your space. It may be tha you need something that is quick and easy to clean if the area will have heavy usage, if it is likely to be lightly used then you go for something that is not quite so functional.
7 – Lighting
Lighting is hugely important in making use of your outdoor space. Some fixed lighting is likely to be of benefit if you plan on spending time there in the evenings but equally some moveable solar lighting can give atmosphere and flexibility. Think about how you want to place your furniture, how the area will be used and where you might need more light – a cooking area for example.
8 – Water
You need to think about water from two different points of view – first will you need water to use your area the way you plan. If you are going to do a lot of cooking outdoors then do yu need a water supply close at hand. Running backwards and forwards with jugs of water will soon become very tiresome.
Secondly, do you want a water feature to be part of your living space – the sound of water gently bubbling can be very relaxing and will also attract wildlife which can be endlessly entertaining to watch.
9 – Storage
Nothing is more annoying that ‘stuff’ scattered around where it shouldn’t be. If you want a relaxing space where you can cook and eat or read a book then you will need somewhere to store all the bits and pieces you might need. If you go the whole hog with an outdoor kitchen style arrangement then make sure you have plenty of cupboards. Failing that furniture with storage built in might be the answer. If you like to potter around your plants you will also need a space for things such as trowels, forks, gardening gloves and the like.
10 – Comfort
This may seem obvious but is often forgotten. Make sure your area is comfortable to be in and do the things you want to do. You go to great lengths to make your indoor space comfortable so why would you not do the same for your outdoor space? Make sure your colours work and transition well from inside to outside. Accessorize – you would have cushions, throws, lamps, ornaments etc to make your living room homely, do the same for your outdoor living room.
11 – Harmony
Your indoor and outdoor spaces should work harmoniously together, planting that links the two is always a good way forward. Think about planters that can be used indoors and out to create a natural flow. Just as you would have a focal point in a room inside, do the same for your outdoor room. It doesn’t have to be anything intrusive, a well designed arrangement of feature plants, a garden mirror, a sculpture – whatever appeals to you.
12 – Go Your Own Way
Advice and guidance is wonderful but don’t be afraid to ignore it if it doesn’t produce the space you want. Gurus are great but they are not living in your space – you are!