As the British Summer does it’s best to confound the most optimistic of us, interior designer Jamie Hempsall looks at making the most of your outside room.
It appears we may have a few windows of opportunity to nip outside and enjoy some outdoor space – if we can tear ourselves away from the sporting events on the television. With this in mind, I have taken a look at some of the more unusual options that are available to ensure your garden is as individual as your interior.
It is always a difficult choice to spend money on exterior furniture and fittings, given how little time we may get to use them. However, you need to consider them a long-term investment. Well-designed and manufactured items may need you to indulge in a little care and maintenance, but are likely to pay dividends in the long run as you enjoy their stylish looks for years to come.
Lounging around is everyone’s first option when the good weather hits, but it would always be nice to indulge in this little passion whenever you fancy. We spotted the Cacoon at the Chelsea Flower Show and think it is a major find. It combines all the joys of a lounger, hammock, swing seat and tent. Being made from acrylic canvas it also does its best to cope with the British elements. They are incredibly comforting and definitely bring out the inner child when you get in them. Prices start at £225 for a single (www.hang-in-out.com – 020 8944 5141).
The Cacoon Lounger Hammock
Unpredictable weather conditions have to be a factor in all your decisions, so you may want to extend both sun and rain cover to less intimate spaces. An innovative and stylish solution is to opt for a Sail shade. The look is highly individual and they pack away to virtually nothing. If you opt for a woven, rather than knitted fabric they also offer the maximum possible UV protection from a fabric. The product pictured is the Kookaburra 3.6m Square Blue Sail Shade, which is independently tested to UPF50+, so should be perfect for those who have young or delicate skin: £59.95 (www.primrose.co.uk – 01189 035210).
The range of outdoor furniture is endless and you should put as much consideration in as if you were choosing something for your interior. They may only be used for a few weeks of the year, but when you need them to leap into action you want to be able to sit & chat on them for every hour that is available to you. People seem to feel that they have to stick to the manufacturer supplied soft furnishings, but you can ensure that your furniture feels individual to you by re-covering cushions in a range of outdoor fabrics, such as Cabannes from Designers Guild or Zancudo by Osborne & Little. This is also a terrific way to give a cost-effective facelift to a beloved set of outdoor furniture.
It is not all about daytime though and with a little bit of planning you can extend the life of your garden well beyond sundown. Lighting is essential, but can easily be achieved with storm proof candles (which can be as simple as some tea-lights in jam jars to create a warm glow). If you are looking for a more permanent option, then we suggest you seriously consider floor lanterns, backed up by subtle higher-level lighting and uplighting or spot lighting to highlight key features without creating light pollution. Lanterns will give an effective, but kind light so you can still bath in the moon-light. The sophisticated Muse outdoor lamp pictured has a choice of frame colour and a waterproof plaited leather handle. The range features a fabulously practical battery powered version. From £680 (www.gomodern.co.uk – 0207 731 9540).
Muse Outdoor Lanterns
Team that lighting with an extra heat source to ensure that you maximise your outside time. There is nothing quite like gathering around an open fire and Kadai Fire Bowls are a wonderfully exotic option. They can be enhanced with a range of accessories including a cooking tripod, grills, skillets and a rain cover so that you can ward off the worst of the weather and still indulge in an outdoor adventurer fantasy. A recycled Kadai with stand, grills, tongs and wire brush is available from £164 (www.kadai.com – 01694 771800).
Kadai Fire Bowls
STORAGE IS KEY FOR GARDEN FURNITURE
It seems a shame to mention this when there is a hint of sun, but if you are purchasing garden furniture it is important to remember to consider how to store it over winter. Canvas items need to be properly dried and carefully folded before being packed away and stored in a dry place that does not attract rodents! Check if “all-weather” furniture really is so and give it a helping hand by purchasing water-proof covers. If there are any doubts, ensure you have the space to store items away from the elements to preserve your investment.
Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is a multi-award winning interior designer.