Well hello there gorgeous people! I’m so sorry there has been a little hiatus in my blog writing. Sometimes there is just so much on that I have to prioritise. Writing a blog post like this takes at least one day out of a week and I just haven’t had that time recently. However, I am back with gusto and today’s post is all about bringing the inside out to create your own cosy outdoor rooms. It’s very easy on Instagram to think that summer is almost over as I’m sure you’ve already seen posts about going back to school and even the odd pumpkin or two. But, let’s be in the moment and wring every last drop of summery goodness out of this record breaking year.
You still might not have gotten around to styling up your own outdoor rooms, but it’s not too late! A huge amount of outdoor furniture and accessories are now on sale, so it could be the perfect time for you to start thinking about it. Do take a look at the clearance section within the Cox & Cox website, for example. A lot of the items I’m going to talk about today, or alternatives are there!
We created 3 outdoor rooms
If you’ve been following along and reading my posts on how to create a garden over the past months, then you will know that it’s been extremely busy at our house. We’ve pretty much managed to design and create a garden in as little as four months. There is, actually, another half of the garden yet to be done (it’s over 45 metres long), but what we’ve done so far I’m so pleased with.
Effectively, the space directly outside from our conservatory (soon to be replaced with a resplendent orangery/conservatory cross from Goodwood Orangeries) has been split up into ”outdoor rooms” – three individual spaces with different uses. To me, other than my general love of gardening and horticulture, the garden is all about living outside, having fun and entertaining. So, first of all I wanted a chill out space that could protect us from both sun and rain. I’ve never quite understood why us Brits aren’t more partial to a covered outside space. After all, we are usually known for our rainy summer weather.
The covered chill out zone
In our last house we created a covered outdoor balcony and it was an absolute game changer! It meant me and the hubster could sit out there come rain, or come shine and we did! I love nothing better than being outside in the rain, but not getting wet. There’s something quite smug about it! We were planning to put a summerhouse in our new garden. However, one evening over a glass or three of Chablis, I asked Mr C why we were doing that. After all, we never really used the last one we had. Why not instead have a smaller summerhouse that could be used as a home office and then a larger covered canopy attached to it? That way we would get the best of both worlds and we’d also get what we used to have with the covered balcony. It was agreed and the alfresco wheels of another outdoor room were set in motion.
I predict garden canopies & outdoor rooms are going to be all the rage!
The summerhouse and canopy came from Coastal Garden buildings and we had it positioned so that it faced almost due west for fabulous sunsets. One of the most important design features is the colour of the ceiling. I wanted this space to be our little slice of Key West/Cape Cod in England. A lot of the ceilings in the verandahs and porches of these parts of the world are painted in a colour called Haint Blue.
There’s a reason for this. Historically, it’s to ward against Haints, or bad spirits. I’m not sure it does much of that, but what it does seem to do is stop bugs and spiders wanting to create nests there. There are many shades of the colour, but the closest to the Key West tone is Blue Ground by Farrow and Ball – they say it’s an optimistic and friendly colour, that’s me to a T!
I wanted a lounge set that was refined and elegant, yet super comfy. I chose the Cape Lounge Set from Cox and Cox. It’s all sold out I’m afraid, but you can still buy this very similar set (San Carlo Lounge Set) and it’s on sale! The idea was to create a zone for before and after supper, a place to unwind and to chat with friends. I have to say I am over the moon with ours and we have sat there pretty much every day all season.
The key to outdoor styling & design
So many people make the mistake of thinking that outside is somehow different from your interior, it’s not! The trick is to think about your outside space in exactly the same way as you would your living room or dining room. That’s why I always keep harping on about outdoor rooms! Don’t just add an outdoor sofa and think you’ve risen to the dizzy heights of interior design genius and should be on the next series of Design Masters. What about a rug, which will ground the space and immediately make it feel more like a room? It also delineates the zone and says: ”yep, fancy chillin’? Come on over!” Don’t forget curtains too! Almost everyone I know thought I was mad talking about curtains outside, but why not? I used white linen type almost see-through curtain panels from Ikea, which give the canopy a coastal vacation vibe. They also provide privacy when needed and shade from the sun. Go on, try it! Do they get wet when it rains? Yes, a little, but who cares? Will I bring them in come winter? I’ll let you know.
Think about lighting and don’t leave it as an afterthought. If you are planning decking, as we did, then you may need to consider wiring, which could run underneath the joists. I mainly wanted to use candles and remote control faux candles, which are super handy by the way! However, we will need sockets and lighting in the summerhouse, so we did add the ability for an electrical hook up. One of the best forms of lighting for the canopy has to be the Alfresco cordless table lamps from Fairydusk. You can take them anywhere, inside or out. They are waterproof and only need a charge once in a while, just like your phone does. Such a brilliant idea and the 49 LED bulbs give off a lot of light for such a little lamp. They are perfect for any occasion too as they are dimmable.
Plants, mirrors and cushions – loads of cushions!
Don’t forget about plants within your outdoor room too, either in pots, or hanging baskets. I wanted the canopy to feel like we were on a verandah in Key West, or a front porch on Cape Cod. So, I opted for plants we would usually keep as houseplants in the UK, but that would be outside all year round in warmer climes. I will have to bring them in come the frosts, but that’s ok.
Your lounge set will need plenty of cushions. If you have a covered area, like me, then they don’t need to be outdoor waterproof cushions. Add at least one throw for comfort too. No scrap that – add two! I finished off the area by adding rustic items from our home, including lanterns, a bird house and also a mussel shell wreath from Coast and Country Designs.
The dining outdoor room
This outdoor room is in the centre of our new deck, so quite open, but central within the courtyard. The first thing I wanted to do was delineate the space by adding planters that would act as dwarf walls. I chose rattan planters from Cox and Cox and guess what? You’re in luck as they are also on sale – check it out! I wanted as many plants as possible to have fragrance too by using herbs and heady scented blooms. The bees have loved it! Rosemary, lavender and thyme are a few of my favourites as well as lemon verbena and Helichrysum Italicum (curry plant). White roses are also another favourite of mine, particularly as a backdrop to lavender. Our wedding flowers were Munstead lavender, white roses and Bay.
To accessorise the dining space and highlight the different areas of the courtyard, I wanted to include different size spheres. I used fluted stone spheres and the rusty spheres, both from Cox and Cox, both in stock and both discounted now. Hooray!
The table of dreams!
One of the most important things for me in a garden is socialising. It’s the main reason I call our outside spaces outdoor rooms! I’m a firm believer in the garden being an extension of the house. To me the two are intrinsically linked. Bringing the outside in and visa versa is imperative in my mind for a sense of wellbeing and peace in the home. I also believe there is no point having a beautiful garden unless you share it with people. What better way to do that than over a delicious meal and copious amounts of champers?
This, of course, requires a table to end all tables. It was important for me to use an English brand with good ethics and incredible design skill. I chose The Farmhouse Table Company as the furniture they make can be completely customisable without slapping on a huge bespoke price tag.
Everything is made with responsibly sourced materials and everything is made from solid hardwood. The garden table is finished with stainless steel fixings and durable exterior finishes. Our table leg colour is Blue Ground by Farrow and Ball, the same as the garden canopy ceiling. It creates flow in the garden.
I’m in love with this table!
The top is solid prime oak and the frame is made from Sapele hardwood. There’s even a dedicated bespoke section on the website where customers can send over their special requests. Current projects include a Bbq table and outside cooler, vanity units, dressers and kitchen islands.
The wonderful Sam started The Farmhouse Table Company back in 2013 by making a table he couldn’t find anywhere else. He then moved into the garage, then several rundown workshops later they now have a 3000sqft super high tech workshop with all the gear and trimmings sending products all over the world! I have to say, it’s the most beautifully made table I have ever seen and wholeheartedly recommend them to you all!
Eventually, we will be adding an off-white sail shade to go over the table, but that’s once the orangery has been replaced.
The sunbathing & chill out space
The third an final outdoor room is to the right of the dining area. This still has work to do as the walls of our single storey extension need to be clad in New England style weatherboarding to match the summerhouse and canopy on the other side of the courtyard. However, that does not mean that we can’t use the finished deck area there. A couple of years ago I collaborated with Armadillo Sun on their superb indoor/outdoor beanbag loungers. To complete the sunbathing/chill out zone I needed one more lounger, so it had to be Armadillo Sun.
If you haven’t discovered @armadillosun luxury bean bag loungers yet then where have you bean? See what I did there! 🤣
I showcased these back in 2020 and I absolutely believe they’re the best on the market! They are made in the UK, with a unique fabric that is waterproof and will withstand even the harshest of climates. You can even buy faux fur covers for them for the winter to bring inside!
We have the Palm Pattern, which is available in Navy, Pumice and Ocean and you can get 15% off of all beanbag chairs and loungers until August Bank Holiday Monday 2022. Just use my discount code: JP15. Happy lounging gang and always remember to wear sunscreen!
Additional features later this year…
There are a few things that I had planned that you have not seen yet. These include zinc planters from Cox and Cox, which I have planted up with topiary balls. These will be going either side of the new orangery doors, when it is built. There are two more zinc planters, which will have white roses in. They are not available now, but these ones are, which are quite similar: Fluted Zinc Planters
There is a water feature going further down the garden. It has been mentioned and linked in previous posts, but here it is again. You can’t buy it now, but here’s what they have available: Water Features. Ours will be eventually surrounded by a circular stone path with gravel paths coming off of it. Last, but by no means least is the white angular arches, like the one’s above from Karen @kbgardensnhomes – they were the first thing I thought of when I started designing the garden. I’m hoping they are installed this year.
So that’s it! that’s what we’ve done so far with our outdoor rooms and hopefully all the linked items and brands and, of course, all the tips, might help you create your own cosy outdoor rooms too. Till next time, have a fab summer!