How To Add Value To Your Home By Creating An Outdoor Living Space
The way we use our homes has changed hugely following the 2020/2021 COVID lockdowns. With our working patterns shifting and a desire to get more out of our spaces, the emphasis on creating multi-functional rooms is here to stay. While our interiors work hard, the importance of outside space has become paramount: those who didn’t own a garden during lockdown immediately sought to secure one, while those who did completely re-evaluated its worth.
Alongside this shift in focus to outdoor living, the interconnection between interiors and exteriors evolved into a desired thread within interior design. Biophilia – where elements of nature are incorporated within the home for a calming effect – has surged in popularity as we look to bring the outdoors in and simultaneously, we wish to bring the inside out by creating cosy and comfortable exterior spaces where we can relax, work, or eat.
A SHIFT IN VIEW
With the price of building materials dramatically increasing and a huge delay in planning applications being reviewed, there is now a move away from the usual route of bricks and mortar. Glass roof extensions and conservatory builds to a focus on alternative methods to create light, bright and watertight outdoor living spaces without vastly expensive and disruptive construction work, or the necessity of planning applications.
At Melanie Lissack’s home, the desire to create extra space began at the start of lockdown. Demands on the family changed, working from home becoming the norm and children getting older, the indoors started to feel a little cramped. With options to add anything structural to the period building limited, attention naturally turned to their large outdoor space.
A NEW LEASE OF LIFE
“We did own a large, raised composite decking area in our garden that was completely unused and unloved. Situated under protected trees, the constant drop of leaves, morning dew and seeds made the open area uninviting to spend a long period of time.”
A lack of inside storage and no garage or garden shed to speak of, investing in garden furniture that needed to be covered or put away over winter made no sense. As a result, the area of the garden which should have been the central focal point sat empty. Seeing the potential of the space, and how it could become a beautiful (and useful) addition to the rest of our home, Melanie set about creating a checklist on how to design a hard-working living space that the family could enjoy all year round.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHELTER
The hardest part when creating an outdoor living space that didn’t require building work or planning permission was to find the right structure. The family needed something watertight, so they could enjoy the space in all seasons; it also needed to provide shade but have the option to allow in as much light as possible to really feel the outdoor/indoor benefits. As the structure was going to be positioned under trees, the risk of rot or yearly maintenance meant that a wooden pergola wouldn’t be appropriate. Research lead to the Suns Lifestyle pergola range of robust, toughened aluminium pergolas easily made weatherproof by turning the louvered roof shutters to a closed position (rainwater is then carried away through a cleverly-designed internal drainage system within the structure’s legs). Constructed from high-quality materials, Suns Lifestyle pergolas are available powder-coated in either a Matt White or Matt Royal Grey finish that won’t rust and are UV protected – making them low maintenance all year round.
LOW MAINTENANCE, HIGH IMPACT
The family settled on a 3 x 3.6 m Rota Louvered Pergola for their deck area which sat nicely at the far end of their garden. To absorb the sun, simply open up the roof shutters all the way; to block out falling leaves, angle the shutters 45°. To make the pergola weatherproof and watertight, close the shutters all the way. To clear debris on the roof or in the gutters, simply sweep it away with a brush.
Also available for the Rota Louvered Pergola is the ability to add on Deluxe Screens. These pull-down screens – made from Textilene – provide privacy and protection, while also keeping the occupied space inside light and bright.
HOW WILL THE SPACE BE USED?
When planning an outdoor living space, it is important to consider how you will use it (which will dictate the size of the structure that you need and the type of furniture that you should buy to put in it). With the deck area being quite far from the house, it didn’t feel like a practical space for outdoor dining. Instead, creating a sheltered, relaxed space to sit in comfort and observe their son play, work from home, or enjoy a glass of wine with friends and family felt like the best option. Being able to be outside with young children, whilst being protected from the sun also felt important. Because of this, the family chose a corner lounge sofa over a sofa set which felt more casual and relaxed. The accompanying side table included in the set fit nicely in the middle and makes the most of all the space under the pergola and keeps drinks/laptops/magazines from gathering on the floor. In the future, even a hot tub might be in scope for this area. The roof shutters of the Rota Louvered Pergola will stop the water from getting dirty, while the Textiline weatherproof screens provide privacy and maintain the heat of the water when the hot tub is in use.
INVETING IN FURNITURE THAT CAN STAY OUTDOORS
The aim of the ‘outside room’ was to create another area of our house – not to clutter up existing areas when the weather turned. It was also important to Melanie that the outdoor living area could be used all year round and not for it to be ‘seasonal’. The family chose the Suns Lifestyle Savona Lounge Collection as the frame of the sofa is constructed from industrial-strength aluminium, it will not stain, fade or rot. The deep-seated, luxurious cushions that go on the frame are upholstered with both Fast Dry Foam® and Sunproof® fabric which is mould-resistant and weatherproof, meaning it can remain on the sofa during the wetter, colder months without damage.
The Savona Lounge Collection can be ordered in a range of colours and sizes (choose from small, medium or large). Both the frame and the cushions are available in multiple colourways, and you can choose to have armrests or treated teak side tables on each end (I opted for the side tables for a more casual look and extra surface space).
HOW TO MAKE IT FEEL LIKE A COSY AND COMFORTABLE LIVING AREA?
To really ‘bring the inside out’ and create a pleasant, homely and enjoyable outdoor living space, comfort is a key factor. Textiles and layering are one of the most important elements used in interior design to create a cosy, inviting feel, so it is crucial to use lots of good quality fabrics and soft furnishings that you would usually find indoors.
Suns Lifestyle furniture cushions are made from high-quality, innovative woven fabric which while suitable for outdoor use all year round, is thick and soft to the touch. On top of the Savona lounge set, Melanie added extra cushions in contrasting patterns and a few throws to layer up in if there is a chill in the air.
To define the seating area and to provide comfort underfoot, an outdoor rug is a must-have item. Here, I have chosen Suns Lifestyle Veneto round rug in a soft pink colourway which is made from eco-friendly, recycled PET bottle fibres. Not only does this recycled material save on landfill plastic and feels super-soft to the touch, but it can also withstand the elements of wind, rain and sun. It also works brilliantly indoors should you change your scheme.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Ribbed, reeded and slatted furniture is a huge interior design trend for 2022. A key feature of the Savona Lounge Collection is not just the comfortable seating, but the stylish fluted teak tables that make up the set. This surface space is a great opportunity to extend that indoor/outdoor look, style these table areas the same as you would indoors with books, magazines, scented candles and flowers for a cohesive feel. Portable lamps and lanterns are also great to place on or around the teak tables to provide atmospheric lighting into the evening, completely cord-free.
A WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT
By creating this extra living space, the family discovered that not only do they benefit from more living space to enjoy, they have added value to their property in more ways than one. With outdoor cinema set-ups and al fresco table settings surging in popularity as we look to diversify and transform our outdoor spaces, there is no end of inspiration on how we can use and enjoy our gardens in the future with friends and family.