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Blurring the Boundaries Between the Indoor and Outdoor To Extend Your Usable Living Space Dunelm
June 2024
Reading time 5 Minutes

No matter the size of your garden, patio or balcony, you want it to feel like a natural extension of your home

Here we share some top tips on just how to create yourself some extra room to grow into.

With luxury garden furniture outside and good-for-you green plants inside, the line between indoors and outdoors has never been more blurred – and aren’t we the happier for it. Research shows a proliferation of household plants make us happier and healthier whilst it seems more and more of us are taking greater delight in our gardens year round with features such as pergolas, insulated garden pods and sophisticated fire pits and heaters making it possible to enjoy our outdoor spaces even in cooler temperatures.

There are some basic rules to follow when you are thinking of redesigning your garden space but any change, big or small, can be transformative.

When it comes to styling, try and carry the same basic style through from indoors so there is no obvious break. This is especially effective with your choice of flooring. A continuation of the same or similar type of flooring will ensure the spaces feel connected.

Outdoor living space | John Lewis John Lewis

Layering up furniture and accessories, and adding rugs, cushions and lighting to create your own outdoor room, means you are far more likely to get pleasure from using the space. Opt for a neutral seating palette and add colour and character with things that are easily changeable. For those who love colour, an outdoor rug is a great and practical option, and think about adding a mirror to open up the space. An outside mirror also helps makes your space feel more room-like whilst floor cushions can be a great and cost-effective option for additional seating.

When it comes to furniture, it’s worth investing in pieces that can be used both indoors and out, saving money and space, and giving you the flexibility to change-up your space when you want.

Experiment with your lighting. We all know the difference mood lighting can make to any room and it’s the same in your garden. There’s been a huge growth in the type of portable lighting now available, from rechargeable table lamps, to solar- and battery-powered standard lamps and festoon lighting too. Without having to worry about power sources or the cost of installing permanent electrically powered lights you can play with your lighting to create the perfect effect and bring a warm glow to any garden space.

Festoon lights are an easy and inexpensive way to add a touch of festival magic to your outdoors, but also think about uplighting features such as trees, borders or your favourite planters to add interest.

Adding an awning or pergola to create welcome shade in the heat of the day will make your garden more welcoming for anyone who doesn’t love the midday heat. They can look super-smart too.

Bigger areas can be divided into zones for eating and lounging but be mindful that you should try and retain a sense of flow throughout the space, which will ensure you make the most of all the usable space. Also think carefully about the position of your table and chairs. Are you more likely to use them in a shaded spot but near the house, or are you happy to traipse to the sunnier space at the far end of your garden?

Zoning the garden is especially useful for families as you can create safe play areas for smaller kids and hang-out zones for teenagers without having to always share the same space. It keeps the garden tidier too.

If space allows and you love alfresco dining consider building an outdoor kitchen area. They can be as simple or luxurious as you want or need but do make life a lot easier and more sociable, and of course convenient so you don’t have to continually traipse in and out of the house. And whilst a fire pit adds warmth, an outdoor fireplace is a great focal point and will have you enjoying the garden well after the sun has disappeared. The warmth of a fire draws people in and means you can brave far cooler evenings outdoors.

Climate change is never far from the front of our consciousnesses these days, and it’s important to consider the environmental impact of the materials we choose to use in our gardens. Single-use plastics are obviously a big no-go. Instead opt for recycled plastics; rather than concrete, choose porcelain or ceramic paving (which emit far less carbon dioxide when produced); and when it comes to decking, make it composite. With modern advances in extrusion and printing, what we once thought of as ugly, low-quality imitations of the traditional materials we were more familiar with, are now looking almost identical to their natural counterparts, meaning we’re starting to see an almost limitless scope for garden design. But your outdoor room isn’t just about the furniture. It’s important to add interest with planting whether that’s in beds and borders or space-saving planters.

The first and most important thing to remember when planning your garden is to work with the space you have. South- and west-facing gardens are a huge bonus, but unfortunately not all homes can enjoy the sun all day and well into the evening. While you might despair initially at the prospect of a garden with a lot of shady spots, there is still a lot that can be done in the shadows. Many plants in fact, are actually happier in the shade than in the full sunshine. Foxgloves, astilbe and Japanese forest grass are just a few of the beautiful, shade-loving plants out there.

Now let’s face it, if you’re clocking off work to get home for around six o’clock every evening, the last thing you’re going to want to do during your long-awaited weekends is spend hours cutting back hedges and weeding. A great alternative is to use a weed membrane with gravel on top (to suppress the growth of weeds) and then plant low-maintenance plants such as grasses, ferns and bamboo. Raised beds with sleepers and bark mulches also help keep weeds to a minimum.

Of course, the ultimate low-maintenance gardening tip is switching to an artificial lawn, and one of the best things about faking it is that your garden won’t look scorched or dried out by any long periods of sunshine we may be lucky enough to have this summer. That’s on top of eliminating the need for you to spend your time cutting, weeding or feeding it.

Outdoor seating in front of a large open fire | Stovesrus Stovesrus
Outdoor sitting area | Bridgman Bridgman

Green roofs are the new favourite of green-fingered eco-warriors, having steadily grown in popularity over the last decade – and with good reason. A roof that supports the growth of grass or plants, commonly planted onto existing shed roofs, they not only help you to reclaim some of the gardening space your shed or outhouse has taken up, but they also provide heat and sound insulation to your outbuildings, improve air quality, reduce your carbon footprint and encourage local wildlife into your garden. Plus, they’ll add extra texture and colour to your outdoor space and, let’s face it, provide one heck of a talking point.

If space is limited or you have an eye-sore you’d like to hide then a growing wall is a great option. Simple and easy to install, stackable wall planters can be easily attached to boundary fences, balcony railings or garden and shed walls. Get creative and plant up with pretty annuals, interesting evergreens for lower maintenance, or they also make great vertical veg boxes, so plant up with herbs and salad crops to use in the kitchen. There are other benefits to plant walls, not just their looks. A vertical garden keeps a building cooler in summer and provides insulation in winter helping to save on your electricity bill. Near the house they can also help with air filtration, capturing pollution and gases, filtering toxins and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. They can also help deflect water away from buildings during heavy rain.

Covered outdoor seating area attached to modern home | Thomas Sanderson Thomas Sanderson
Outdoor dining and food prep area with built up seating surrounded by greenery | Soto Green Soto Green
Where To Go To Grow

Yorkshire Pergolas are specialists in garden pergolas. Whatever the size of your garden or your budget you’ll find a great range of different styles.
11 Main Street, Stamford Bridge YO41 1AE

Lights4Fun, based near Leeds, is where to find great value garden lighting, including solar-powered path lights and battery-powered festoon lighting which can be adapted to suit your space

Pooky have a huge range of designer outdoor lighting. Their distinctive range of modern outdoor lighting features wall lanterns, pillar lights, rechargeable table lamps and sleek recessed lights.
Redbrick, Batley WF17 6JF

Cliff Bank Nursery is a great place for specialist advice. Many of the plants here have been propagated on site and with plenty of choice, plus expert help on what to plant and where this is a great place for novice gardeners to gain some valuable help in designing their borders and planters.
North Rigatoni, Leeds LS17 0BZ

Garden Furniture is home to more than 10 different brands so whether you are looking for an outdoor sofa to lounge on, a parasol to keep the sun off, a dining set or a fire pit there’s plenty of choice.
Moorlands Nurseries Garden Centre, Knaresborough HG5 8JY

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