Garden design – How to create an outdoor room

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Need more space for living?

Depending on your circumstances, it maybe more cost effective just to create an outdoor room.

You probably already have available space outside, so its simply a matter of deciding which part of it would be most suitable for the use you have in mind viz, entertaining friends, alfresco dining, or just relaxing.

However if your space options are limited, maximising the available light will be a key to your enjoyment of the room.

Consider the aspect, you will want the room to be comfortable, so the treatment of light via sun and shade will be a key. Awnings or an umbrella are options, as are small trees or advanced shrubs.

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A well placed outdoor room will immediately generate a sense of integration with the overall house.

The first rule to follow in your planning should be to ensure a seamless transition from one room out to the other with same level flooring between the two adjacent rooms. Where possible, aim for similar flooring surface and or color and If the space is separate from the house, give it connectivity via a defined passage so as to negate the sense that you have left the house.

Secondly, ensure that the connecting doors open from the inside outwards.

If your outdoor room is not exciting or engaging, you will never use it. Think of a place from which you have found total inspiration, and encourage a design that transfers those feelings into your outdoor room. None the less it needs to be functional in its usage.

There is property research out there which suggests that investing 5% of your home’s value on landscaping treatments such as outdoor rooms, can add up to 15% to its valuation. Now that’s an excellent return on the investment, not to mention the lifestyle advantages and better health that follows by spending more time outdoors. According to the Harvard Medical School, spending time outdoors will increase your vitamin D levels, facilitate more exercise, you will be happier in natural light, your concentration will improve and you may heal faster.

Like any room, an outdoor room should have key structural elements such as a floor, walls, ceiling, furnishings and ambience. Your budget will determine the extent to which you can go. The walls may simply be no more than a hedge or low height stone wall separating the different parts of the garden and providing definition to your room. I mentioned the preference for a contiguous floor, using a similar as the adjacent room. The ceiling might be part the main roof structure, or simply a pergola frame with a creeper growing through it. Collectively, these three elements capture the scale of the room.

The fun now starts with the decor and ambience. Focal points of activity determine the ambience. As an example, a dining room takes its ambience from the design style of the dining table and chairs, and so it is that the principle activity of the outdoor room should dominate the design features of this room.

Fire and water can add significant personality to any outdoor room. A fire place or fire pit extends the use of the room into the cooler months and have a magnetic draw that I find captivating. Gently moving water adds a calming and therapeutic influence to the room.

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A good lighting plan will dramatically change the character of your room at night and will provide the wow factor during the evenings.

The final but no less important ingredient is your choice of plants. They enhance the balance of light and shade, height, color and texture, and give your room life.

They soften the hard edges that comes with the structural elements of the room.

The theme of the room is often defined only by the choice of plants. Together with water, they have the ability to transfer you to “another place”.

Click here for more about good design within the garden space.

The budget might be a limitation to all that you want, so consider options and establish your priorities before you commence. With a bigger budget, an outdoor kitchen will certainly be up for consideration. Nothing beats the preparation of a meal whilst enjoying the company of friends, be you the chef or the friends watching the creation of a magnificent meal to be shared. An outdoor kitchen requires detailed planning, as much about electricity or gas, water and drainage etc, as it does about ovens, refrigeration and seating etc.

Need some guidance, make contact by email or phone – I would love to help.

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