After struggling to easily find the right items to furnish her own home, Kuldea Co-Founder, Deirdre Mc Gettrick, was inspired to create an online platform to make home shopping as straightforward, efficient and fulfilling as possible. Here, she shares some of the top tips she has learnt when it comes to selecting fabulous furnishings for truly gorgeous outdoor and garden living areas.
“When we decorate our homes, we look at the whole picture, evaluating each space for its walls, furniture, floors, accessories and how all the elements work together. But the outdoor and garden living areas are often neglected and not given the chance to live up to their full potential. Here at Kuldea, we think they should be thought of as another room and planned with the same detail as you would any other.
So, whether you have an acre of land or a compact balcony to work with, our top tips will help you to create a well-balanced and eye-pleasing outdoor environment with a welcoming ambience.
Top tip 1) Decide what sort of ourdoor and garden space you want (or need!)
Identifying the functionality you need your outdoor and garden to offer will make it much easier to consider how items such as a table set, chairs, hammock or bench would complement your comfort and enjoyment of the area. Is it mainly a grown up space used for sunbathing and relaxing? Do you plan on entertaining frequently and need a range of seating for additional guests? Or is it a family space that doubles up as a play area for children or pets?
Taking a realistic approach to the amount of space you have available is important to ensure your outdoor and garden continues to meet your needs without becoming over-filled. Also be aware of the area’s natural light and which spaces you would like to be sunny and which need, or are naturally prone to, shade.
If your garden is going to look really effective, the basics must be in order. Have a good tidy up, getting rid of (or recycling) any old furniture or garden accessories, cleaning your decking, removing weeds, mowing the lawn or taking care of any other messy jobs to get your outdoor and garden area neat and organised.
Top tip 2) Find furniture that fits the function
As with any other room in the house, furniture will be an essential part of your outdoor and garden living area’s layout and there is a huge range available, from traditional and rustic to sleek and contemporary, with many offering innovative features such as sliding extensions, adjustable heights and folding sections.
Outdoor materials include budget-friendly plastic, aluminium and resin weave, through to pricier rattan, wrought iron, solid wood, ceramic or even marble. All offer different properties in terms of appearance, functionality and ongoing maintenance, but are generally hard wearing and durable as standard.
Some of the most popular and interesting items of garden furniture for you to consider include:
Dining sets: available in a range of shapes and sizes, tables and chairs offer a stylish and practical option for al fresco eating.
Bistro sets: great for small gardens or balconies, bistro sets provide the perfect spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee.
Sofas and coffee sets: individual armchairs, sofa sets and side tables offer indoor lounging outdoors. Available in different shapes, including corner designs, many have useful built-in storage.
Sun loungers: a laidback seating choice ideal for sunbathing, look out for designs that are fully adjustable, with cushions for comfort and wheels for easy manoeuvring.
Statement chairs and daybeds: for a fabulous talking point, a hanging egg chair or nest-like day bed provides the ultimate evocation of holiday vibes.
Benches: ideal for anywhere in the garden, a bench provides a lovely and practical feature, either in a traditional or more contemporary design.
Kids’ furniture: children love being outside, and mini dining sets, playhouses and tents are a great way to keep them occupied in the fresh air for hours on end.
Remember to choose a furniture colour that suits your overall outdoor and garden scheme, perhaps coordinating with the shade of your patio or decking, the exterior of your house, or your home’s interior for a connected indoor/outdoor look.
It’s also important to keep in mind how your furniture will handle the weather. It’s definitely worth investing in protective covers to shelter frames and cushions from the elements, and opting for shapes that are stackable for convenient space-saving storage.
When it comes to outdoor furniture it’s not just about tables and chairs though! Consider revamping areas of your garden with arbours or arches, pergolas, gazebos, tensile sails, awnings or parasols. As well as ‘zoning’ areas for socialising, these can make the space more useable by offering shade in the summer and shelter in the evenings.
Top tip 3) Style up with soft furnishings
Styling your outdoor and garden living areas with soft furnishings as if they were a living room is the ultimate way to make maximum use of your outdoor space. An amazing selection of outdoor textiles is now available including cushions, rugs, throws and table cloths in a variety of finishes, colours and styles – many of which are showerproof.
Scattering extra cushions on your outdoor sofa, or keeping a bundle of throws in a basket for when the temperature starts to drop, creates a considered, orchestrated arrangement, as well as enhancing your comfort and overall enjoyment of the space.
Gardens are naturally full of colour so keep it going with your accessories and décor. Tropical, botanical and coastal themes work really well in the garden and can easily be translated through colours and accessories.
Rugs are also very popular on decks, balconies and patios at the moment; usually made of manmade fibres they are durable, waterproof and easy to clean, helping to add a homely twist to your garden.
For a relaxed ethnic or boho feel, drapes in muslin or lace hung from a pergola or gazebo frame will introduce a touch of whimsical-chic under which you can while away the hours on a warm afternoon.
Top tips 4) Personalise with pots, planters and garden ornaments
Gone are the days where terracotta plant pots were the only option for your outdoor and garden living areas. Planters now come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, including everything from geometric terrariums to upcycled wheelbarrows, so you can get really creative with how you display fauna, flora and topiary.
Think about varying the general composition of your outdoor and garden pot arrangements too; they don’t have to be relegated to the ground! Vertical upwards planting utilises space effectively and can spruce up fences and bare walls. Don’t be limited by traditional garden items either. Outdoor style is becoming increasing design-led with shelving, picture frames and wall art that could belong inside making an outside debut.
You can really personalise your outdoor and garden area with more unexpected items such as a birdhouse, statue, sun catcher, chimes, or even antiques to add a thematic element. Nestling mirrors in between plants and climbers draws light in to dark corners and adds an optical illusion that creates depth and a sense of charm.
Think about the overall style when choosing garden adornments – if you are going for a more architectural asymmetric design, pick accessories and containers that continue the angular geometric lines. If your outdoor and garden area follows a softer, more ecological design, you can play with texture, mixing different stones together and using imperfect finishes to heighten the natural feel.
Just remember, less is more. Whilst an eclectic mix of accessories can inject vibrancy and individuality in to your outdoor space, too many items will just become clutter and detract from the overall stylised look you’re trying to achieve.
Top tip 5) Light up with candles and outdoor illumination
Just because the sun has gone down it doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying your outdoor and garden area! Outdoor lighting makes a big impact, just as it does inside the home. Strategically placed at different levels, it can offer functionality in different ways, depending on the purpose of that particular area.
Positioning lighting on the exterior wall of a house or apartment will provide practicality for dining or hanging out the washing, whereas stake or bollard accent lighting can illuminate pathways or borders to subtly enhance the ambiance. Hanging fairy, string or orb lights is a simple and impactful way to create a magical atmosphere that will delight adults and children alike. Many outdoor and garden lights are dual powered using solar or battery, so they are also flexible and fuss free.
Candles in pretty holders or lanterns add a warm, romantic glow to a summer’s evening, with citronella scents useful to keep bugs at bay. Just remember to be careful with candles and never leave them unattended or within the reach of children or animals.
Fire pits, chimeneas or patio heaters are also a great addition to a garden, taking on the role of a fireplace as well as providing additional illumination. Available in a range of styles, they really come into their own at night, providing warmth and extending the amount of time you can spend in the outdoor and garden living area.
Kuldea makes finding gorgeous outdoor and garden furnishings even easier – browse thousands of products from the UK’s best retailers, all here in one place!