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6 steps to creating an outdoor room

Image of the sitting area of @deecampling

6 steps to creating an outdoor room

If you’re hankering after more square inches but relocating isn’t an option right now, look outdoors! Turning your garden into an outdoor room is a savvy way of extending your space during warmer summer months. Read on for a few ideas of how to create the perfect alfresco space.

1. Decide how to use your space

Your first step to creating a successful outdoor living space is to decide how you’ll be using it. Will be it be for relaxing or formal dining? Be inspired by the casual style of @pandora.maxton (below left) who’s given wooden pallets new purpose by transforming them into garden furniture. This is a practical as well as affordable way to furnish your outdoor garden, as you can build pallet furniture to the size that suits your space. Layer in seating cushions, a large throw and lots of scatter cushions and you’re all set!

Or, if formal dining is your thing, jettison casual picnicware for crockery and glassware. After all, your garden is an extension of your home, so why not style it as such? Be inspired by Sheila of @maisondecinq (above right) and take your alfresco table to the next level with silver candlesticks and vases bursting with pretty blooms.

2. Zone your space

To make the most of space in your outdoor room, separate it into different ‘zones’ based on their function, just as you’d do in an open-plan home. Start by creating a space to entertain. Invest in a table that works with your space and your lifestyle, and add some shade to offer protection from the sun. If your garden is on the spacious side, introduce a secondary table and chairs that fulfil a different purpose. For example, you could create a spot to enjoy a morning coffee in the morning sun with a more intimate bistro table.

In addition to your dining area – or perhaps instead of it – create a space to relax in with an outdoor sofa or chairs. This is probably where you’ll head for post-dinner drinks, so consider using a firepit as a focal point and a source of warmth.

For a great example of zoning, look no further than @jade.doutch (below), who has skilfully incorporated three zones into her spacious back garden: dining, lounging and somewhere to hang out (literally!). Different floor surfaces, modular furniture and potted plants all to help define the various areas.

3. Research outdoor furniture

You can create the perfect extra living-dining room whether you have a small patio or a spacious garden. The essential ingredient is outdoor furniture that looks just as good as indoor furniture but can stay outdoors whatever the weather.

Unless you’re planning to change your outdoor furniture every couple of years, it’s well worth investing in high-quality, specialist brands that use durable materials. Features to look for include powder-coated aluminium frames, cushions with quick-dry foam and fabric finishes that are UV- and mould resistant. If you prefer wooden outdoor furniture, invest in the best quality you can afford and remember to treat and clean it at the beginning and end of each summer. Teak comes highly recommended because of its timeless style and how it mellows with age.

Design note: the performance of outdoor fabrics has made great strides in the last few years. There’s now a huge range to choose from in an array of patterns and block colours. My inspiration comes from Warsaw, where Ann of has created a comfortable outdoor living room to relax in.

4. Decide what furniture you need

Generally, the first things people think about when buying outdoor furniture are a table and chairs. But before you commit, consider this: how often do you have friends round for a sit-down meal? If you’re more of a drinks and nibbles host, invest in something less formal such as lounge chairs (go low-slung if you don’t want the view of your garden obscured) and comfortable outdoor sofas.

Who wouldn’t want to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon relaxing in Negi’s dreamy garden (, as seen below? Design note: if you’re having difficulties deciding on a colour palette for your outdoor living room, take your cue from the colours you’ve used indoors. This is another great way of strengthening the connection between the two spaces.

Image of the garden of
5. Go modular

How ever you decide to furnish your outdoor space, make sure it works for you and for all occasions. Modular garden furniture can be a great choice: it comprises multiple elements that can be combined to create your own bespoke arrangement. And modular furniture adapts to the space you have, which makes it the perfect pick for this cosy corner of Nicola’s garden (@number71by_the_bay).

6. Revive old furniture

Stylish outdoor furniture is the key to creating an outdoor room that’s an extension of your home. This doesn’t necessarily mean splashing out on a new set. Simply updating your existing pieces with a splash of exterior paint will do the trick nicely.

To repaint garden furniture, you’ll need exterior paint designed for wood and metal surfaces. Look out for paints that are weatherproof, crack resistant and ensure a smooth finish. Some are self-priming, so always check the tin. When selecting paint colours for your exterior surfaces, make sure you don’t overwhelm the eye. Build on the natural hues already present – for example, a plainer patio could benefit from a bold splash of colour, while a garden blooming with flowers might suit more subtle shades that provide a more neutral backdrop against which the flora and fauna can stand out.

Gemma of @caffeineandcacti has given her outdoor sofa a sophisticated boost with a splash of weatherproof chalk paint from Frenchic Paint’s Al Fresco range (above left). Self-priming and self-sealing, this is a versatile choice suitable for wood, laminate and metal. Meanwhile (above right), Dee’s outdoor space (@deecampling) has a solid roof made from clear corrugated plastic lined with reed screening, which means she can furnish it with vintage finds rather than outdoor furniture. Take the leather sofa – it was a junk-shop buy that Dee has spray painted silver. It stays out most of the year (although the throws and cushions come in at night).

Featured image: This enviable outdoor room with dining and living space was created by Dee Campling.

Want more? Having an outside space definitely boosts your feeling of wellbeing, so why not keep this going inside the house with our series of blogs on wellness.