CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT DESIGN CONSULTANCYAPD INTERIORS

Q.Dear Andrew, I would like to entertain outside this year so what preparation should I do now to make the most of my garden?

A.Entertaining outside is always a nice way to spend a warm evening and it is even better if you can extend your home outwards to create a larger entertaining area.

One trick for creating a seamless transition between the inside and the outside is to use similar flooring in both spaces. This could work for either stone or wooden flooring. For example, you could lay limestone in your living room and also use it as your patio. Do ensure that whatever stone you put outside is suitable and doesn’t get too slippery when wet. So you could use honed limestone for the outdoors, which will reduce the slipperiness, and then use a smooth limestone inside the house.

Alternatively, if you prefer wood flooring in your living room then lay some smart decking outside to continue the wood look and create a large combined living space.

To enhance the sense of space and openness you can use large doors that fold back on themselves with no visible fittings in the middle. This opens up the view and blurs the division between interior and exterior. Do try to remember that if you are creating a larger combined area, your garden furniture should be of equal quality to your indoor furniture. A current trend is exterior furniture in all weather wicker rattan. These are also available in sofa shapes – just add large comfortable cushions and you have a perfect garden room.

You will also need to consider the view of the garden you will get from inside the house. Hanging lightweight curtains on the windows will ensure the view is not obscured, but do remember to tend the garden – you don’t want to be looking out over a weed patch. Try not to crowd the room inside with lots of furniture; keeping it at a low level will not hide the view.

Another way to blur the division is to include lots of houseplants into your interior space – place them near the windows to bring the outside back in. You can also continue the colour scheme from the living room right through into the garden by planting flowers of similar colours.

If you want you can also try to incorporate media into your outside space so you can use it as you would your living room. Waterproof speakers are now available but make sure you position them appropriately and be considerate to neighbours. Try and have some lighting outdoors but remember that less is definitely more. A few gentle lights at a low level and illuminating some trees can really highlight the features of the garden.

Finally when you are creating your outdoor space, bear in mind that you will probably want some privacy – use parasols and other methods for shading the area.