When it comes to garden design, it’s time to rip up the rule book. This summer it’s all about a mix-and-match ethos, allowing your outdoor space to become a natural – and stylish – extension of your home.
Keep it natural
The modernist, minimal garden has its place (think: slick, design-conscious hotels and uber glam properties), but for most of us this approach is too high maintenance. Instead, opt for a range of natural materials for a more authentic appeal. Mix wood furniture with clay pots, decking areas with stone features, reclaimed sleeper timbers and rustic swing seats for an organic look. The blend of natural materials will give a tactile, layered aesthetic that is very much on trend.
Bartek Ostojski, co-owner of Arbol House, a specialist in industrial home furnishings, agrees: “Concrete is the material of the moment. While it is not a natural material, it brings the wow factor to your garden especially when combined with more organic pieces. As it’s a minimalistic and hard material it looks best matched against scrubbed wood, oversized planters and colourful soft furnishings.”
Top three buys for a stylish garden
Oval Chedworth Zinc Planters, £136, miafleur.com
Raw Metal Barrington Arch Trellis, £55, gardentrading.co.uk
Oak Seat Swing With Fuchsia Ropes, £139, bobbyrabbit.co.uk
John Lewis, stocks a range of furniture and accessories to achieve the look. “Whether you’re in the heart of the British countryside or the bustle of a vibrant city, a few carefully chose pieces can transform a terrace or a patch of grass into a perfect place to relax,” says Vicky Angell, Outdoor Living buyer for John Lewis. “We’re also seeing customers look to purchase that one special item that will provide a talking point when entertaining friends, or make their gardens more Instagram-worthy – be it a tiki cocktail bar, love seat, hanging chair, or colourful patio set.”
For the perfect laid-back touch, add a hammock, such as those available at Smallable, or a Cacoon Chair from Smithers of Stamford, which is based in Cambridgeshire, and mix in tribal-themed accessories, like those available at Sainsbury’s. Check out the shop’s Moroccan Luxe and South American themed accessories for a splash of colour.
Source rustic terracotta pots, antique silver planters and zinc tubs at home-store Angela Reed in Saffron Waldon. David Reed, co-owner, gives his advice: “Use focal points to bring different layers and textures together. Emphasise a pretty tree or invest in a statement garden ornament or statue to draw the eye towards an interesting part of the garden.”
Forget the predictable greens and browns for garden fencing and furniture – this summer, it’s all about colour. Bright block shades give a contemporary, cheerful feel to garden spaces. Use pops of colour in edging tiles or stones to frame planting areas, for instance, or think about painting a wall in a bold hue – such as peacock blue or fiery red – as a backdrop behind a stylish sofa.
Mark Bannister, technical consultant at Sandtex, which stocks a wide range of exterior paints in vibrant shades, says: “Look to your furniture, benches or even metal plant pots to inject an added splash of colour. Not only perfect for reflecting the natural shades of your garden, a lick of paint can also make your furniture a real focal point. Yellow is a fantastic shade to couple with soft greys – it can create an immediate on-trend exterior space with minimal effort. Additionally, you don’t have to go wild with the amount you use, as painting a few prominent objects in your garden will immediately transform the area.”
Colour can also be used to zone areas of the garden to give a sense that you are entering a series of outdoor rooms. Use different shades in the same palette for dining, playing and lounging areas. In larger gardens, use Trex’s low-maintenance, wood-alternative decking to set off dining tables and sofas – its special material resists fading, stains, scratches and mould growth due to its protective shell.
“By creating zones within your garden, you can really maximise the space and really utilise your garden,” says Vicky Angell, at John Lewis. “Use a BBQ to create a dining space and perhaps place a modular sofa or a hanging egg pod chair in a different area to create a lounging area. If space is limited, I would suggest a bistro set in a bright colour along with a smaller BBQ to create a relaxed dining area.”
To complete the look, accessorise as you would indoors – Dash & Albert stocks fantastic outdoor rugs, Marks and Spencer has a range of glamourous Safari-style melamine dinner-ware and Extex is renowned for its cushions in innovative, luxury outdoor fabrics.
“The summer months are a great time to turn your garden or terrace into an extension of your living space,” says Tandine Rawkins, design director at Extex. “Go for vivid colours to brighten up your garden all year round or look to the trends and introduce additional green tones for a botanical oasis.”
Warm it up
Lowri Allpress at Jo Alexander, gives her top garden buys
Our Linum striped cushions give a cool Scandinavian feel.
Be transported to the lemon groves of Tuscany with our aqua and citrine linen tablecloths and napkins.
The wonderful glow of a Kadai Firebowl adds warmth to any gathering.
Mash it up
Up until recent times, it was de rigeur to stick to one garden style – be it classic Mediterranean or pretty cottage planting. These days, times are changing with designers mixing old and new for modern impact.
If you have a traditional planting scheme, contrast with modern, modular furniture – like the sofas and outdoor heaters available from Maze Rattan or the concrete coffee tables at Arbol House. For gardens with contemporary greenery – such as spiky palms or grasses – more ornate furniture, such as wrought iron benches or mosaic-tiled tables, will soften and offset the hard lines.
Lucy Ferguson of the East London Parasol Company, which sells stunning flamboyant parasols and linens made in Bali and India, gives her tips: “I love to contrast colours and textures in a garden. I like to have a base of colourful patterned tablecloths, cushions and napkins with unexpected hints of luxury like sheepskins and cut crystal. I pile up colourful cushions, rugs, and use big painted ceramic platters to make everything look appealing and abundant. As twilight arrives, I hang tea lights in jam jars from inside a garden parasol, light the candles in lanterns and brass candle sticks and settle in for the evening.”
My top ten garden buys…
Shirley Parasol, £295, eastlondonparasols.com
Sentou Condesa Armchair, £343, smallable.com
Moroccan Luxe Lantern, £22, sainsburys.com
Dahlia Runner, £29.50, marksandspencer.com
Samode Fuchsia Indoor-Outdoor Rug, from £52, dashandalberteurope.com
Scatter Cushion Caribbean Stripe, £150, indian-ocean.co.uk
Industry Black Round Table, £247, ovohome.com
White Arched Mirror Window, £80.95, florafurniture.co.uk
Ferm Living Concrete Pot, £32, amara.com
Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson Platter, £10, Debenhams.com
A version of this article is also published in the August 2017 issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine