8 things to consider when creating an outdoor living space

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 June 2020

A colourful garden at a private palazzo in Milan

A colourful garden at a private palazzo in Milan


Cookham Dean-based interior designer Sandra Rothwell of Sandra Rothwell Interiors offers creative ideas to make the most of your home and garden

Garden transformation in MaidenheadGarden transformation in Maidenhead

ow we have missed being able to explore our lovely Berkshire countryside and open spaces, especially in all the beautiful weather we have been having. But what better way to enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of the sunshine by making good use of the space available in our gardens? It is not as tricky as you might think to create an extra ‘room’ for lounging or working outside.

Soft seating

Comfort is important when choosing a sofa and chairs for outdoors as you want to create a space where you are happy to relax in with family and friends. A corner sofa is a great idea as it defines an area well. Another option is a hammock or hanging seat in a corner of the garden. An old bench can be painted and moved to a sunnier spot and updated with a comfy seat pad and cushions, ideal for an early evening aperitivo!

Including pops of colour in the garden will add interest throughout the year and Fermob (fermob.com) have a gorgeous range of colours and styles to choose from that last well in 
all weathers.

Soft furnishings

Cushions are a great way to add colour and instantly transform a seating area into something cosy and welcoming. An outdoor rug is another welcome addition – as well as zoning the area, a rug is soft to walk on and really does create the appearance of an outdoor room.

Beautiful accessories

Coffee tables and side tables – either for drinks and snacks or for lighting and candles – add to creating a room outside. There are many battery-powered lights available and outdoor hanging lights that can bring a bit of magic to your outdoor space – you can get creative with these. Insect repellent candles are a great way to keep all the bugs from sharing your space too. You can also hang pots with plants or lights on them to make a really welcoming space.

Barbecue and/or a firepit

Food really does taste so much better outdoors and if you already have a barbecue, maybe create a small outdoor kitchen area by adding shelves for food preparation and storage for pots, crockery and utensils plus oils, herbs and spices. A firepit can work well for cooking and will also provide heat on chillier evenings.


Not everyone loves direct sunlight and too much can be detrimental for our health, so shady areas are also required. 
A parasol or awning would work brilliantly (and protect against light rain). Pull-out awnings attached to the wall are very practical and cover a large area, again great for our often-unpredictable weather.


Panels are a great idea for creating privacy, either attached to the wall or free-standing – perfect for sectioning off areas where you may want to sunbathe.

Outdoor bar

If you have the space, why not create an outdoor bar? A counter with a fridge and bar stools would make a very sociable area in the garden. A drinks trolley by the seating area can work too – and it is portable.

Creating space

Placing a mirror in the right spot will make your garden appear much larger, plus pots and planters of different heights filled with gorgeous coloured plants create instant atmosphere; choose some beautifully scented plants for 
the patio area where you will be able to sit and enjoy the scents. Lots of candles and solar-powered lighting strategically placed around the garden will enable you to make the most of this beautiful space well into the evening.

Visit sandrarothwellinteriors.com and @sandrarothwell_interiors for more ideas and inspiration

stunning garden transformation in maidenhead

One of my clients has a small but lovely garden in Maidenhead near the river. She wanted to spend more time in her garden but felt she was not making good use of the space she had. I zoned the patio into two areas – one with a sofa and coffee table for coffees with friends, and a dining area near the kitchen. I also added a couple of lounge chairs in a sunny spot with split level coffee tables to add interest, plus a few colourful pink chairs and a bright blue table in a shady part of the garden, but visible from the house. A lounger with cushions and a rug were put in the summer house for her to work/relax in and bold planting in pots added to the scheme to give her a vibrant, multi-functional outdoor space.

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