Now that we are finally enjoying a few rays of sunshine and warmer temperatures after months and months of cold, we’ve decided to give our neglected outdoor area some love in time for the summer. With my husband’s birthday this past week there has been no better time to prioritise our tired old back yard and get our hands dirty, since I decided that the theme of his gift this year is ‘the garden’. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to call ours a garden per se – perhaps ‘elongated concrete box’ would be a better description though my father-in-law feels that ‘chicken coop’ is rather accurate – nonetheless it holds loads of urban patio potential.
It needs pretty much everything done to it. New floor, paint, shed makeover, seating, lighting, greenery. All of it. Because of that we have felt a bit overwhelmed, so to get inspired (and make some design decisions) I popped into a local tile centre to see what was on the offering where garden flooring is concerned these days. Well, I was anything but inspired. Rather, completely baffled as to what to choose and couldn’t help but wonder that if it was tough for me, an interior stylist, how on earth do other people cope when faced with five thousand options and that’s just the floors! I was expecting I would waltz in there, spot my dream patio floor from a mile away and order the tile on the spot, just in time for hubby’s birthday the following week. The opposite occurred, whereby I wandered around aimlessly, returning home empty handed with nothing but a head full of question marks. So in my confusion, I gathered some inspiration to show you guys exactly what’s floating my boat right now in the world of patio style, with six simple ideas for getting your own balconies, courtyards or gardens ready for summer. I will be returning triumphantly to the tile centre having pinned a few ideas down from the below gorgeous photographs.
Lighting outside is every inch as important as lighting inside. It sets the scene and commands the atmosphere, and I love this idea of stringing up overhead cafe lighting over the whole surface of the garden to offer a romantic vibe to any outdoor soiree. I bought four strings of these for my wedding two years ago and I plan on putting them to use this summer in our garden.
Just as I’m all for the ‘less if more’ theory indoors, I love gardens, balconies and courtyards that employ this sesnsibility too. Simple, clean paving or tiling, a few well placed plants in attractive pots and a nice set of garden furniture is all that is needed for a perfectly charming outdoor space. The minimal patio is not just about decorating sparsely, it is also about employing a minimal palette, perhaps sticking to one flower hue, or a palette of green, white and terracotta as shown in the image above. Limiting the palette in this way can have a very striking effect and keep the area looking clean, uncluttered, inviting and relaxing.
Probably one of the first things you will consider when designing your outdoor area – where, and how you and your family/guests are going to sit for the best, most relaxing outdoor experience. Your seating area will determine the layout of the garden and the flow or traffic. Even with limited space, you can create a very welcoming seating area that doesn’t have to cost the earth or seat a family of ten. I love the simplicity of these two old wicker chairs for afternoon lazing. We used to have two just like it and I am kind of bummed we got rid of them (I was too lazy to paint them, though I had a baby back then, to be fair). Chairs aside, this whole house is amazing, check it out.
Add character and style to your outdoor space by collecting and arrange pots on various shapes, sizes and textures (a mix of materials such as terracotta, concrete and ceramic), stick some plants in varying heights and structures in them and you’ve got an instantly green urban jungle. I love the idea of dotting them along the side of a staircase or gathering them casually on window sills, and also hanging them to add vertical charm to your balcony or patio.
For those of us who don’t have sprawling grassy gardens (ahem, me), thankfully there’s just one ingredient need for a lush green outdoor area – lots of greenery! Ask your local garden centre which play types would thrive in your outdoor environment and gather many different types in different heights, textures and shades of green and you’re done.
As with interior spaces, whether small or large, your patio, garden or balcony can certainly benefit from some contrast, whether it’s some contrasting dark furniture or a feature wall, a black painted garden shed, some contrasting pots thrown in the mix or some darker toned pillows on your outdoor sofa – adding contrast will beef up your outdoor area in big way. It adds visual interest and a bold backdrop to your greens! I am loving black in the garden and will be treating our worn out garden shed to a lick of matte black paint before the summer.
Did you see anything you’d love to do to your own outdoor area? Plenty of inspiration here that has definitely set my own wheels in motion!
Image sources | 1.& 3. Christina Wells for The Glitter Guide | 2. Collage 1,2,3,4 | 4. Sharyn Cairns for Whiting Architects | 5. Collage 1,2,3,4 | 6. Unknown source | 7. Philip Ficks for Lonny | 8 KMI Design | Editorial assistance: Malou Muizer & Nina le Blanc