What could be nicer than relaxing in the garden on a balmy summer’s evening, entertaining friends or just kicking back with a long cool drink?
It’s a lifestyle that appeals to us all, and many are looking to transform their outdoor spaces into stylish home extensions they can enjoy at their leisure.
Food for thought
To help them achieve their dreams, landscaping professionals now have a wide range of designer garden furniture and products to draw on including comfy seating and controllable heating and lighting of indoors quality. Similarly, al fresco dining areas, often with built-in BBQs and pizza ovens, and maybe a herb garden too, can be easily created using modern decking and paving support structures.
At the top-end of the market, stunning second living rooms are being kitted out in the fresh air with TVs, music systems and even cinemas. Imaginative water features – and we don’t mean hot tubs - are bringing a serene and distinctive touch to many of these homes. “Plug and play” pergolas, offering shade or light at the touch of a button, are also very much of the moment in the best residential areas.
Extending the living room
When you’re tight on space inside, it makes total sense to take advantage of space outside. Developers know an attractive terrace area brings added-value to any property and are specifying them wherever new projects allow.
Interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell, renowned for creating quietly glamorous luxury homes and commercial developments full of fluid, elegant spaces, is often commissioned to transform outside areas as well. When she started out 15 years ago, terraces were barely thought about by designers, she recently told a group of landscape architects invited by Kinley to an event they staged at the Gherkin. Now, she said, “there’s a real perceived value in outdoor space – it’s become an extension of the living room.”
Barratt-Campbell, whose stellar design status matches husband Sol Campbell’s as an Arsenal legend, says developments in technology have played a big part in opening up the use of outdoor spaces. “Advancements such as modular terrace systems have helped the industry evolve hugely in the past few years, and terraces have now filtered through to all levels of the market. The added-value is huge.”
Outdoor restaurants trends
Restaurants are big fans of outdoor areas too, and contemporary outdoor furniture and fittings are transforming the al fresco dining experience. Summer is a critical time for the hospitality trade, so creating attractive exteriors can help draw more customers in. Industry surveys show that three-quarters of diners increase their dwell time when they’re happily seated outside.
Comfort is, of course, essential so heating, shelter and sufficient space are as much key considerations as seating and other furniture. Separate smoking areas, shielding other diners from drifting fumes, can sometimes be created by clever use of terracing and plants.
Bringing the inside outside looks set to grow even more popular, and techniques and products that can maximise the use of space are a landscape architect’s best ally. The latest developments in the market should ensure al fresco living continues evolving to new levels of pleasurable enjoyment.
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