Tips to increase your outdoor living space

If you’re looking to expand your outdoor living space and make it more inviting without breaking the budget, take a look at these tips. There are several things you can do to make an area feel more like another room of your home without having to bulldoze and start from a clean slate.

Before you jump right in, one important design consideration is to think about the scale of your outdoor space regardless of whether your outside area is sprawling or small. And to avoid breaking the bank, think about the elements you already have in your garden that could inform the ‘walls’, ‘ceiling’ or ‘floor’ and create a sense of enclosure of your outdoor living space.

Start with the flooring

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Gravel outdoor living area featuring Eco Outdoor® Malua® lounge | Hare + Klein

The flooring of your outdoor living space will not only provide a solid surface to place furniture but also visually define the area within your garden. Laying a natural material onto a level site will blend in well with the surrounding soft landscape. Depending on your budget you can choose from natural stone flooring, decking or even an exposed aggregate with an interesting pebble mix. Another option which can reduce costs is a compacted gravel with paving stones to create a firmer surface underfoot.

Whatever material you select for the flooring of your outdoor living space consider not only the cost of the product but also the labour.

Form a perimeter

As with interior spaces, creating a feeling of enclosure is done with walls or some form of partition. Any vertical elements can help define the outdoor living space and create a perimeter through the suggestion of walls. A low natural stone retaining wall, an established hedge or even the frame of a pergola structure are ideal options.

If you don’t have any existing vertical forms in your garden and your budget don’t extend to a built form, consider utilising plants to create a perimeter. Even a garden bed with low shrubs can create a sense of enclosure without disturbing the view to the rest of your outdoor space.

Consider what’s above

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Outdoor living area bordered with Clancy® stone walling and an open timber pergola | Anthea Dunlop

Unlike an interior room, you don’t need to define your outdoor living space with a solid structure and ceiling. In fact, an open ceiling is often preferred as it doesn’t block the view of the sky or the light above. Ideally, to reduce costs you’d take advantage of your home’s roof overhang but if you want to create a living space within the garden, you’ll need to think of other options.

Using an established tree can be a successful (and inexpensive) way to create shade. Building a pergola with wires and an overhanging creeper can create a sense of shelter without the costs of a solid ceiling or blocking the sky above.

Choose your furniture

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Eco Outdoor® Heaven furniture with creeper-covered pergola | Tract Consultants

Choose furniture that is comfortable and accommodates your needs. If you’re limited on outdoor space, it’s particularly important to consider how you want to use the additional living space. Do you want to make the most of the pleasant weather by dining outdoors or do you prefer to lay in the sunshine with a good read? Once you know your priorities, you’ll want to select an outdoor setting that is made of quality componentry and fabrics that are durable enough for your environment.

Read more about choosing the right outdoor furniture for your environment here

When selecting outdoor furniture, consider the effects of the configuration on the sense of flow and feeling of space. You’ll want the furnishings to make your living room feel intimate, yet provide the room to move around and entertain freely. You can also choose a setting that helps strengthen the feeling of an outdoor room. For example, a modular lounge could define the perimeter without the need of ‘walls’ or interrupting the view to your garden.

Add ambience

Adding additional elements to your outdoor living space is a great way to make it a destination in your garden you’d like to use frequently rather than a disused area. An outdoor kitchen is an obvious way to draw you outside with the cooking amenities.

Tips to getting your outdoor kitchen right can be found here

But if your budget is a little more limiting, consider other inexpensive elements such as an outdoor fire pit or a makeshift cinema kitted out with comfortable bean bags. If budget allows, adding lighting and a form of heating can also make your space more versatile and encourage greater usage.