Little touches, big ideas: Interiors fans can have fun outdoors too
When it comes to our homes, these days every square inch matters more than ever. With prices rising back up to Celtic Tiger levels, we're making the most of what we've got - both inside and out. We're rethinking our homes and how they function and we're getting smarter.
Having already sussed out the staircase for significant storage solutions (now, that was a game-changer), we're now looking to the back garden in a new light, and considering the ways in which we can bring what's inside out, further maximising our living space.
How to nail the seamless transition from indoors to outdoors, and make the garden as attractive a place to while away the hours (weather permitting, of course) as the living room? Here's what you'll need to consider, along with this season's dominant trends.
1 Living walls
One of the biggest trends you'll see in gardens this spring is the 'living wall'. It started as a trend in corporate offices, where the colour and energy provided by greenery was very much needed, but now this trend has made its way back outside.
It's a brilliant idea for gardens that are tight on space, where flower beds aren't an option - particularly in urban environments. Talk to your local garden centre about self-watering units and transform your courtyard, leaving more space on the ground for the all-important garden furniture.
If you can't make the wall unit work, get yourself a shelving unit and furnish it with lots of different-size planter pots for large, leafy greens; you'll achieve the same effect.
2 Mirror, mirror
One garden trend here to stay is the statement mirror. Again, this needn’t be the preserve of your hallway. If we make use of mirrors inside to double the space, there’s no reason we can’t employ the same tactic for gardens that are on the smaller side.
Windowpane-style mirrors are dominating this trend and the shabbier, the better — it should look as though it’s always been there, and you’ve uncovered a secret garden.
With outdoor mirrors, you are adding yet another low-maintenance focal point that serves both your need for design and function.
3 Colour schemes
There’s more to the garden than greenery. Whether it’s dividing walls or fencing, introducing the kind of paint colours you’d choose for inside is the first step to creating this roofless extension of your home.
A vibrant feature wall? A soft hue to enhance the relaxing atmosphere? This is one of the easiest ways to add a homely feel to your garden, and one we often overlook.
When it comes to colour, however, choose wisely. How do you want the space to feel? Energised? Fun? Tranquil? Moody?
Pale, colder colours will work well if you have a south-facing garden and they will also create the illusion of more space; if you’re hoping to warm things up in a north-facing garden, go for warmer, richer tones.
We tend to put function and durability ahead of aesthetics when it comes to our garden (and, yes, plastic, wipeable furniture and accessories will certainly see you through a delightful Irish downpour) but there’s nothing to stop you adding the more impractical, but also more stylish, furnishings on the days where you know you’re likely to spend time here.
The key is having a storage solution inside for the days when the weather’s not on side. When you adopt this more ‘ad hoc’ approach to your garden’s décor, your texture choices open up. A mix of textures outside will work as well as it does inside, giving depth and enhancing the homely vibe.
Introduce chunky throws for when the sun goes down, and embrace the boho trend of tassel cushions, rattan and faux leather accessories. Tiles are also another brilliant way of adding texture and colour, and outdoor floor tiles with more personality than the concrete slabs we’re used to are very en vogue.