Our outdoor living spaces have become just as stylish as the inside of our homes. From hot tubs to hot pinks, here are the latest new trends to keep your garden a perennial favourite place to be.
The way we use our gardens has drastically changed over the past few years. From the rise in edible planting to the increased popularity of dramatic landscaping (think black fencing, architectural planting and oversized pots) – just like how we furnish our interiors, we are taking note of what’s on trend and elevating our outdoor spaces. New advances in weather-proofing, for instance, mean we now have a wide choice of chic furniture options that wouldn’t look out of place in Miami or LA. These days there is also a focus on home entertaining and social time spent outdoors with friends and family. It all adds up to a desire for the most stylized gardens that we can achieve.
EXTEND THE HOME
Long gone are the days when garden furniture meant plastic tables and folding chairs. Designers are now taking the same approach they usually apply to living and dining room furniture and as a result, thankfully, there is a wide choice of super-stylish garden sets available so homeowners can create that sought-after elegant al fresco area.
James Whiteley, founder and managing director of White Stores (03331 235 235, www.whitestores.co.uk), a leading online retailer of garden furniture and accessories, is at the forefront of modern garden design: “Despite the ups and downs of the great British weather, al fresco dining and entertaining is becoming more popular every year, as homeowners extend their kitchens and living rooms outside into the garden. An outdoor living trend we are seeing for 2015 is the widespread availability of more colourful garden and patio furniture. While many of our customers still prefer their outdoor sofa and chairs to be a traditional grey or brown colour, others want to make a bold statement with bright, funky colours like yellow, orange and lime green. Of course, this wider choice of designs, colours and materials allows people to bring a truly unique look to their outdoor space – and that’s something we’d all like to achieve with our homes and gardens.”
A growing trend towards a more organic look has meant a boom in natural materials being employed, which echo the look and feel of a garden. Woods, linens, all-weather rattan (choose synthetic for durability) can be mixed and matched to give interest. What’s more, manufacturers are now producing many styles of furniture and textiles that resemble indoor versions but which can withstand the elements, like those available at John Lewis (01223 361 292, www.johnlewis.com).
Nicola Gidlow, buyer for Outdoor Living at John Lewis, gives her insight as to what is popular right now: “Our key trend for garden furniture in 2015 is Fusion, which looks at authentic pattern, shapes and finishes through a contemporary lens and develops them into beautiful pieces of modern design. The Ariel range perfectly captures the essence of this trend, and with a weathered finish and a fisherman’s rope detailing, this is perfect focus for gardens and conservatories alike. The Shanghai Parasol is key to achieving the look, its neutral colour combined with an intricate multi-rib design creates a striking focal point for the garden, perfect for entertaining.”
For a large garden, add interest with occasional outdoor furniture dotted around. You can create small ‘tableaux’ to highlight a few pretty areas. A group of rattan armchairs, for example, or a metal table and matching chairs can be grouped together to form cosy corners – much like how you would arrange them in a large living room. Source items from home emporium Adventino, an online emporium inspired by the British countryside (01529 307 812, www.adventino.co.uk).
The seamless transition of the home to garden can also be emphasized by using typical interior materials such as ceramic tiles. Creating a glamourous effect are Fired Earth’s (01223 300941, www.firedearth.com) new porcelain tiles, available in geometric hexagon mosaics and pretty floral patterns, which are slip resistant, making them perfect for paths and patios.
Fired Earth’s creative director Rob Whitaker comments: “Just as we’re seeing with interiors, there’s a noticeable trend towards using colour and pattern outdoors. Tiles that feature decorative motifs or geometric patterns are particularly popular since they’re ideal for creating welcoming paths and stylish terraces. For example, Fired Earth’s new Sorrento porcelain range is available in six eye-catching designs. Tiles such as these are beautiful and robust, meaning that they’re equally at home indoors and out. They’re perfect for extending seamlessly from a kitchen onto a patio, cleverly creating the illusion of more space.”
SACW Paving (020 8993 5545, www.sacwpaving.co.uk) also offers special 20mm thick porcelain tiles, which are designed specifically for outdoor use and are quick and easy to install onto various surfaces, transforming outdoor spaces in an instant. They are also virtually maintenance free, non-slip, and scratch, frost and chemical resistant, ensuring an outside space that can be enjoyed year after year.
Another practical choice for patio areas is Trex composite decking (www.trex.com/uk). The eco-friendly brand supplies decking which is comprised of more than 95 percent recycled materials, including recycled plastic and wood scraps, and it offers an elegant finish with minimal maintenance, as it only needs cleaning with soap and water, and never requires sanding, staining or painting.
Create a true retreat in your garden by indulging in a few luxury touches like a hot tub or spa. Fenland Arctic Spas is one of the leading suppliers of hot tubs and gardens spas in Cambridgeshire (01353 863115, www.fenlandarcticspas.co.uk) and owner Denise Mason comments: “Add a little bit of luxury to your outdoor space with the addition of a hot tub, which can be enjoyed by all the family. We supply Arctic Spas and Coyote Spas, which offer high spec and technologically advanced products. Your own spa – which is suited to all weathers – means you can create the ultimate sanctuary in the privacy of your own garden.”
Meanwhile Bathing Under the Sky (01763 268 551, www.bathingunderthesky.com) offers luxurious, wood-fired hot tubs and barrel saunas that are perfect for escaping the distractions of modern life and look good enough to become a garden ‘feauture’. Available to buy or hire, the saunas and tubs are handcrafted from premium western red cedar; famed for its durability, insulating qualities and therapeutic aroma.
Also turning up the temperature, in more ways than one, are the new ranges of uber stylish outdoor ovens, chimineas and garden heaters now widely available.
The Morsø Living range of futuristic grills and outdoor fireplaces (www.morsoliving.co.uk) brings a touch of cool Scandinavian design to outdoor entertaining. Declan Walsh, managing director of Morsø UK, gives his advice: “More households are now branching out from the traditional BBQ, and are looking at more versatile and aesthetically pleasing products such as the Morsø Outdoor Oven. This allows you to cook traditional barbequed food as well as allowing your very own pizza creations, or it can simply act as a heat generator on a cold evening. Made of solid enamelled cast iron, this oven’s chic globular shape will make it an eye-catching addition to any patio. The Outdoor Firepit, meanwhile, is another crowd pleaser. Use it for creating an inviting ambience at a get-together or opt for the additional grate to barbeque delicious food. Incorporating clean lines fused with functional Danish design, this product is also fashioned from solid enamelled cast iron, making it a durable purchase to enjoy for years to come.”
Corner sofas and recliners are practical and attractive choices for days spent lounging in the sun, but you can lively up your space further by choosing a statement piece of furniture. Source unusual love seats or day beds, such as the Maze Rattan Apple Daybed and the Pear Daybed, available at White Stores (03331 235 235, www.whitestores.co.uk). The garden store also stocks the dramatic Aztec-inspired Alexander Rose Cabana. The cosy ‘indoor’ space for the back garden contains two beds and side table and has three circular archways forming a cool, mini hideaway.
Not just for children, a swing is also a fun addition to the garden. The Cacoon Hanging Pod (available at John Lewis, 01223 361 292, www.johnlewis.com) is part-tent, part-hammock and part-tree-house and gives a modern take on a classic swing. Meanwhile, the Tobago Hanging Chair (available at Fishpools, 01992 636465, www.fishpools.co.uk) is an open-weave rattan chair, with a 60s sensibility, ideal for long, lazy days.
Kate Watson, interior designer at Fishpools, adds her take: “This season’s tropical trend has found its way into our gardens and is the perfect way to add the fun factor. Bold and bright accessories are leading the way. From jewel-hued cushions to colour pop parasols, these fun additions are a great way to add character and style to al fresco spaces. They can also be mixed and matched with ease. When it comes to choosing a colour palette, with an outdoor space you can afford to be brave so don’t be afraid to introduce rich shades. They’ll immediately establish a tropical feel and will be complemented by a garden’s flowers and foliage. Try to limit your tropical theme to one or two ‘key’ colours; this will help to create consistency and tie your look together. Smaller splashes of accent colours can then be built up around them to add variation.
In addition to accessories, painted or tiled outdoor walls are also a fabulous way to inject a touch of tropical that will last all year round. Planters filled with jungle-style flowers can also be used to break up large spaces and create an eye-catching display.”
Sweeping curves – created by spiral paths and shaped flower beds – are another way to add a fluid, young feel to an otherwise boring expanse of grass. Experts in garden design and natural fencing is Cambridgeshire-based Foxcotte Fencing (01223 263702, www.foxcottefencing.co.uk). Tim Radford, owner, comments: “Gardens have become the new focus for homeowners over the past few years. Many clients invest heavily in their outdoor space and it is increasingly seen as just as important as the inside of a house. New advances in outdoor furniture, weatherproofing and design mean that gardens and patios can look modern, fresh and appealing.”
ROOM WITHIN A ROOM
Whether you opt for a contemporary bespoke garden room or a traditional, pastel-coloured summer-house, many of us are realizing the potential that our gardens have to give us extra living space.
For many years, the only option for bridging the gap between garden and home was the conservatory, now that has changed with a range of options available for homeowners. Westbury Garden Rooms (01245 326 500, www.westburygardenrooms.co.uk) offers contemporary garden rooms, oak orangeries, pool houses and wooden conservatories that ooze style and sophistication. Each of the glazed buildings is created as a bespoke project with the homeowner so all differing needs can be met.
Nicola Gidlow, buyer for Outdoor Living at John Lewis (01223 361 292, www.johnlewis.com) comments on the growing trend: “In recent years people have begun to use their garden as an extension of their living area rather than a separate space. Outdoor rooms are versatile spaces and can really work hard for your home. In the winter they add extra space to safely store outdoor furniture and then become a haven in the summer months. They are also ideal for setting up a home office, hobby room or relaxation space.”
Specialist Linc Garden Rooms (0345 260 8929, www.lincgardenrooms.com) provides garden spaces with a difference. The modern or traditional designs can be uses as garden rooms, pool rooms, home offices, or as an extension to the main house for additional living space. Neville Brownhill, managing director, advises: “Our totally unique rooms offer clients the opportunity to have quality, individuality and style unrivalled in their design and originality. All of our standard or totally bespoke designs can be used for anything from cinema rooms, hideaways to spas or additions to the main property. Just launched is our new 5m Round Spa, incorporating a sauna, steam and feature shower with relaxation beds.”
Finally, for something more unusual, Lanai, meaning open-sided veranda in Hawaiian, is an innovative, outdoor living specialist located in Cambridge (01223 915822, www.lanai-outdoor.com). Peter Morris, managing director, comments: “Our glass rooms and verandas fuse the garden and home together. Giving an architectural feel, their elegant contemporary design gives a home the wow factor. There’s an increasing trend for homeowners to want to maximise their space both in the home and garden, these ‘extensions’ are unlike traditional conservatories in that they are beautiful to look at and are very practical. Lanai glass rooms are available with either sliding doors or concertina style doors. Both these styles of doors can be opened up to bring your garden into your home. With so many flexible and fixed-glazing side elements to choose from, there are combinations galore. What’s more, the doors are easy to open, and sliding the panels is a breeze due to exceptionally smooth operation and a foot-operated lock on the inside.”
ALL IN THE DETAILS
Once you have the main structures in place in the garden, it is time to add in colour and texture with accessories, dramatic plant pots and an interesting colour palette.
Important to bear in mind is to seek out items that are practical although that doesn’t have to mean they should fall short on the style-factor. A case in point is the new Garden Glory range of funky garden accessories at John Lewis, which includes pink wall mounts, gold hoses and striking stag antler wall tidies.
Another important factor is choosing items that can withstand our changeable climate. Offering a large range of outdoor soft furnishings and rugs is Dash & Albert Europe (www.dashandalberteurope.com). Director Genoveva Alfaro agrees: “Outdoor living has evolved with new and improved fabrics and accessories that can withstand the elements. Decks and patios are an extension of the decorating style inside your home and people are loving the opportunity to put a personal stamp on their outdoor space.”
Seek out pioneering fabrics, such as those from Extex (01634 718871, www.extex.co.uk), which are water repellent, stain resistant and machine washable. Pappelina Rugs are also unique in that they can be used indoors or out (available from www.scandinavianshop.co.uk) while British textile company Barker and Barker, which has a new showroom in Cambridge, offers a range of fabrics suited to the garden (01223 733730, www.barkerandbarker.co.uk).
Translating new home trends by way of affordable accessories is Sainsbury’s home and garden range (www.sainsburys.co.uk). Anna Sheppard, head of Seasonal Buying at the store, says: ‘For Summer 2015, our outdoor collections have been inspired by our two main trends, Monochrome and Country Fair, and are guaranteed to transform outdoor spaces and make al fresco entertaining simple and stylish without breaking the bank. The Monochrome collection features luxurious metallic accessories and Moroccan-inspired patterns whereas Country Fair brings a touch of the British countryside with traditional gingham prints on picnic and tableware. The quality melamine and acrylic tableware is designed to be used time and again whereas paper tableware in trend-led designs is perfect for big parties and outdoor events.’
Finally, when it comes to colour in the garden, there is now even more choice of exterior paint colours which can give a new lease of life to fencing, furniture and outdoor structures. Josephine Rance, marketing director at Farrow and Ball (01223 367771, www.farrow-ball.com) says: “As the warmth of summer brings budding flowers and fresh green leaves, it’s the perfect time to give exterior spaces an uplift. You can brighten up tired brickwork or add pops of vibrant colour to exterior woodwork and metal.”
David Mottershead, managing director of Little Greene (020 7935 8844, www.littlegreene.com) experts in exterior paints, gives his advice: “On trend for this season in the garden are bright pops of colour against a dark background – replicating the wild planting of cottage gardens where dark foliage is sprinkled with vibrant wild blooms. Choose colours linked to stone, slate, sky and earth for larger expanses of painted surfaces, and opt for highlights in bolder fun colours for summerhouses, furniture – and fancy birdhouses!