3 Design Essentials for Outdoor Living Spaces

3 Design EssentialsWhether you are creating an entirely new space or updating what you already have, great design will help to maximise the potential of your outdoor living space. Incorporate these 3 essentials into your outdoor living space design and you will be on your way to creating something truly unique:

1. Define a Focal Point:

A basic principle of interior design, a focal point demands the attention of someone who enters the room. Creating a focal point in your garden not only draws immediate attention toward the finest features but also encourages you to think about how the rest of the garden can be used.

The kitchen has traditionally been the focal point for gatherings indoors, so why not bring the concept outdoors? But let’s move beyond that stand-alone barbecue grill, a temporary table and a splattering of weathered garden chairs. Perhaps you can build around your grill to provide some stone worktops…or go the whole distance and create a kitchen island with a sink and a fridge!

Fully functioning outdoor kitchens have proved increasingly popular in the US in recent years, and now the trend is starting to gain traction in the UK. As you can see from the photo, they look incredible and will serve you well over time. Creating a permanent structure will also bring your home some of that important ‘wow factor’ and add value to you property.

With a myriad of materials, shapes and price-points, choosing garden furniture for you outdoor living space is a potential minefield. Think long and hard about how you want to use your furniture and, if you can, spend a little extra…it will certainly be worth it in terms of comfort and longevity.

I’m particularly fond of contemporary synthetic weave (rattan) pieces, which are highly durable, lightweight and increasingly affordable. Steer clear of cheap plastic resin…it’s prone to snapping, needs constant cleaning and looks quite nasty!

Outdoor Kitchen

2. Create Ambience:

One of my favourite ways to enjoy a garden is to sit out until after darkness has fallen, glass of wine to hand. Once the sun has faded, your garden can take on a different character and you have the opportunity to add some atmosphere to the proceedings!

There’s certainly no need to retreat indoors when your outdoor living space has ambient lighting. Solar powered lights are popular as they are low maintenance and portable, but quality is generally poor and will only glow rather than emit any usable light.

A better option would be to use light strings and lanterns, which are not only more practical but also function as décor; creating a far better ambience and allowing you to give your garden personality.

If you are really serious about your outdoor living space you can also install hard wiring. You then have the option of wall mounted lights, decking uplighters…perhaps even a chandelier!

Fire can add drama and also act as a focal point once the sun has gone down, the food has been eaten and drinks are being served. Consider a fire pit, fire bowl or a decent quality chiminea, which will prevent you from being smoked out.  Currently there’s a trend for fire tables, which can make a stunning centrepiece for a night-time gathering.

Amazing Firepit

3. Deploy Décor

Just as inside your home, those finishing touches are what will make your outdoor living space truly unique. Here you have the opportunity to really show your style and personality! Just remember, when selecting décor the key is to make it feel as comfortable and intimate as possible.

Thanks to a surge in availability of weather resistant fabrics, soft furnishings can now take the brunt of nature’s elements in a way your lounge furniture never could. A brief shower, a spilled glass of wine or a long day in full sun is no longer a cause for panic. Go as bold as you dare with colours: save the muted colour schemes for the indoors!

Also, why not consider a garden rug? These can be highly durable to handle the foot traffic and potential for mildew, and sometimes reversible to allow for a change in your look.

Recent years have also seen a surge of interest in garden art, and you should certainly consider investing in some pieces for your garden. Some contemporary garden ornaments will make a modern style statement. Hanging a weather resistant canvas, featuring a digitally printed image, can help to break up the monotony of a long fence or brighten up a corner of your garden. Metal garden art also looks great, and improves as it weathers. Just please, please stay away from tacky animal themes and terracotta plaques!

For garden sculpture, my recent article should help you to discover how to buy garden art.

And garden décor need not end with furnishings and art. You can also consider how to incorporate dinnerware, a mirror, a clock, flags, bunting…the possibilities are limitless.


  1. Lorna said:

    Focal Point, Ambience and Décor, I will remember these three points and employ them in my new place whether it be a cottage or an apartment, the principles are the same. I will be back in touch for your advice.

  2. Outdoor furniture said:

    The latest trend in outdoor decor, is bringing the indoors out. I am seeing more and more living spaces and furniture that would have normally been left inside, brought outside, so people can enjoy the warmer weather in comfort and style!

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