Ways to improve your outdoor living space

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Excited for some spring al fresco dining? Now is the time to start thinking about those outdoor projects that will upgrade your garden, garage, patio or balcony, so they’re ready to enjoy once spring rolls around.

Of course, when it comes to DIY, some might say confidence is key. But with the right tools and a little guidance, it is possible to reimagine your outdoor space and style it up for when the time comes for those much longed-for summer socials.

And when we are finally able to throw open our doors without worry, you’ll be able to showcase what you’ve achieved with this extra time at home.

Create an inviting sitting area
An outdoor living room acts as an extension of your house and is a great way to expand the usable square footage of your home on a budget. A patio with a table gives you a different dining option. Outdoor couches and chairs provide an inviting space for friends and family to gather together. An outdoor rug gives grandchildren an extra space to play.

This isn’t to say you need to go out and splurge on new furniture though. You could look for second-hand outdoor furniture that someone is selling or just freshen up a set you already have. A new coat of paint and some throw pillows do wonders to freshen up a space. Outdoor rugs are also a great idea, they inject a pop of colour and allow guests to spend time barefoot.

Of course, if you want to expand on this idea, you can also add more expensive features, such as an outdoor fireplace or a water feature.

And remember, an inviting spot can be achieved in all kinds of outdoor areas. If your outdoor space consists of a slim balcony, interlocking deck tiles or an outdoor rug could warm up a sterile concrete floor. Hanging planters could add greenery without claiming valuable walk space; a trellis or screen could provide privacy and personality. Add a few pieces of small, but comfortable furniture and you’d have the perfect relaxation point.

Tip: create a greater sense of space in a compact area with furniture made of light, hand-woven materials or wire, which have an ‘airy’ appearance. Paint a wall white and add an outdoor mirror to reflect the light.

Pick a colour palette
Are you thinking olive green or a rich, deep yellow? Or maybe something less natural like a hot pink? Pick a colour palette that represents you. Including some bright whites or neutral sand tones will create a more tranquil feeling, while stronger colours and patterns make a real style statement in a space.

Paint the walls of your sunroom, conservatory, garage or summer house – and even some wooden furniture too – for a fresh new look.

Tip: keeping to a smaller colour palette generally works better than lots of different colours in a smaller area.

Light up your space
On sultry summer evenings, ambient lighting makes for a relaxed, luxe atmosphere. Try LED torchlights with a flickering candle effect, which are quick and easy to install, outdoor pendants, string lights and bordering your garden with lanterns and spikes. Wall sconces and up/down lights are a compact way of illuminating large areas. Or, for a more traditional (but more expensive) evening option, a fire pit can be used as a great statement and centrepiece.

Tip: outdoor lighting can make the area feel safer and allows you to spend more time outside.

Make wooden furniture look like new
A simple wood stain with protection can breathe new life into weathered pieces. It’s typically available in a wide range of wood colours, you’re sure to find one that you like. For old and previously treated timber, you’ll need to sand down previous coatings and finishes and degrease with methylated spirits. And having closely followed the painting instructions, you can then look forward to the fun bit of styling up the seating.

Create some privacy
Not that you don’t want to see your neighbours but building a wall or fence can change the whole look of your patio or garden. Tall shrubs and trees can also create a sense of privacy on a budget. If you can’t build or plant something permanent or the space is too small, you could hang curtains around your patio or pergola or create a vertical garden for your balcony.

Tip: mixing indoor and outdoor natural materials will blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors. Combine rattan, wood, metal, ceramics and glass for a natural, collected feel.

Don’t despair if a full-on revamp is beyond the budget. A dash of flair and a coat of paint could be all that’s needed to breathe new life into a flat space and transform it into one that is summer-smart and ready for entertaining.

What type of outdoor space do you have? Do you spend much time out there in summer?

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Written by Ellie Baxter



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