How to create a “room” outside…

indoorBarbeques and dining sets just don’t cut it as must have outdoor accessories, says Home Stagers’ Collette Hanlon.

“Presentation” is a key factor to achieving viewings and selling homes.  This month I have been focused on maximising living space. It is now 40 years since iconic garden designer John Brookes first introduced us to the concept of an outside living space, but we seem to have progressed no further than BBQ’s and dining sets.  Outdoor rooms are great to live with and an incredibly desirable feature if you are marketing your home, all without the expense of building an extension!

When contemplating our interior living space we carefully research colour, pattern, and furniture and go to great lengths to seek out design inspiration.  However, do we afford the same consideration to our gardens and patios, yet we expect to maximise the space as an outdoor room, for the summer months?

With a bit of careful planning and consideration this space can be utilised for much longer, if only to visually enhance the sense of space that we live in.  By our very nature most of us are drawn to light airy spaces that look out onto a view.  Not all of us are lucky enough to have rolling landscapes beyond the window but we can create that feeling with lush foliage and greenery, even in a small courtyard.

Most houses have at least one room that leads out or looks out onto the garden, by re-evaluating this space with an emphasis on maximising the potential light, you can transform your living space.  Replacing patio doors with folding doors and adding skylights, can be more cost effective than adding a conservatory and doesn’t ‘land lock’ an existing room into darkness.  If you already have French doors that lead out to the garden then consider the transition from the ‘inside room’ to the ‘outside room’.

If you have timber floorboards inside, then decking makes a great progression to the outside space.  If you have tiled or stone floors inside then endeavour to relate the exterior slabs to the interior tiles, by using either the same material or the same tones.  This, visually extends the interior out into the garden, it is ‘a trick of the eye’.  Carpet is probably the one material that does not work well, but you could consider natural matting which would tone well with timber decking.

There have, over the last few years, been some major innovations in both design and durable materials used in outdoor furniture.  Look out for woven weather resistant new generation rattan style furniture, great colours and even greater shapes; look for curvy pod shapes, and large outdoor sofas, which I predict to be the next big thing, along with outdoor showers!

Personally, I think a hammock take some beating on a lazy summer afternoon, and if you don’t have two strategically placed trees to suspend yourself, there are some amazingly graceful wooden frames available.  Use bright and summery cushions both inside and outside, which means, you can bring them indoors in the evening, solving the storage problem.

If you are trying to sell your home and have not attracted a buyer have you or your agent considered that it might not be just down to price but just as much about “Presentation and Promotion” – don’t hesitate to call us or ask your estate agent for advice – it could make the difference, as many of our sellers have found!

  • Collette Hanlon cutCollette Hanlon assoc BIDA is Creative Director of “Home Stagers” which is one of the UK’s leading specialists in Show Homes, Rental Furniture and Property Presentation. Contact Collette on 0800 542 8952 or visit
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