Award-winning landscape designer and interior stylist, Adam Robinson, reveals an exclusive insight into creating the perfect outdoor setting for your home.
Designing beautiful outdoor settings for living is my passion, so I’m sharing an exclusive insight into my approach to creating the perfect outdoor spaces.
It’s an approach I use for all my projects; after all, exterior spaces deserve the same level of care and attention as interiors when choosing furniture and décor.
So, let’s get started.
1. Create Outdoor Settings with Function and Purpose
When space is limited, first decide how you want to enjoy the area.
For example, if cooking, eating, and entertaining are a priority, fitting out the alfresco area with a stylish outdoor kitchen, barbecue, and benchtop space for food preparation, plus a beautiful dining setting optimises the space for your lifestyle.
Alternatively, if enjoying great conversation around a fire with a glass of wine and some delicious nibbles is more your vibe, a firepit paired with comfortable seating and side tables is a great way to go.
Fancy both? A low-level dining set or a sizeable low-level coffee table creates an in-between feel that’s casual but offers the perfect spot for sharing plates.
2. Choose Complementary Colours
As with interior décor, when choosing furniture for outdoors, be mindful of the materials, colours, and style of plant palette you use to achieve a consistent look and feel.
For example, for gardens with cacti, succulents, pebbles, large rockeries, and light exterior walls, a perfect pairing for this setting may be four eggshell canvas butterfly chairs around a deep firepit bowl.
Always consider how the outdoor setting links to your home interior, so the design elements create a visual connection between the two spaces.
You can achieve this by choosing complementary design styles and surfaces for inside and outside.
If the interior of your home is a homage to English chintz, for a seamless feel, it’s best to avoid Zen-like ottomans in a minimal courtyard.
Choose Quality and Comfort for Outdoor Lounge Settings
My team and I see so many gardens with hard, cold furniture that no one ever sits in or uses. So, there’s no benefit at all to having slick, uncomfortable furniture.
The perfect outdoor lounge setting strikes a balance between the aesthetic look of the furniture and the materiality.
For example, cold, metal chairs without any cushions to soften them are not conducive to friends gathering and staying a while. Instead, select lovely tactile materials like warm timbers. Make outdoor spaces as cosy and comfortable as you can to extend the amount of living you do outside.
3: When Size Matters
Whether you’ve got a 2-metre by 3-metre balcony or a big backyard, you can always find the perfect outdoor lounge setting for your space. But, again, go back to the function and purpose of the space to help you choose.
Whether you prefer private, intimate spaces for you, your partner and family, or entertaining groups of friends; your lifestyle will influence your design choices.
As a rule, always retain at least one metre of space around furniture settings to allow enough room to move around comfortably.
4: Create a Multi-Functional Outdoor Setting
My team and I love a multi-purpose outdoor space, especially for small areas like rooftops or courtyards. There are lots of clever design elements you can introduce.
Elements such as bench seating, L-shaped lounges, or a fire pit that converts to a barbecue in an instant all work wonders in small spaces.
Light-weight outdoor furniture can be easily moved and stored, and chairs with open forms or joinery that doubles as seating won’t block your line of sight or disturb the visual flow of the space.
5: Consider the Weather
The best materials for outdoor settings are durable, UV and weather-resistant, comfortable, and stylish. However, there are considerable differences in the makeup of the materials you would use outdoors.
Rain & Moisture
Whether it’s surfaces or furniture, make sure your benchtops and furniture are resistant to damage from rain and high humidity. Water collecting or retaining moisture will physically degrade materials and encourages mould.
Rust & Corrosion
Some metals contain iron or steel that is susceptible to corrosion when continually exposed to the elements. If you live in coastal areas, choose materials resistant to salt and water to ensure they retain their lustrous look.
Sun & Temperature
Our climate can expose surfaces and furniture to the harsh sun causing many materials to fade and lose beauty over time. Whilst fading can be visually appealing; we don’t want to lose the vibrancy of colours and patterns.
Choose materials specifically designed for the outdoors, such as Caesarstone Outdoor surfaces or furniture crafted with weather-resistant acrylic fibres, so the materials hold colour richness for longer.
Research materials consider whether they are sustainable and crafted with the environment in mind. For instance, Caesarstone surfaces outperform other common outdoor surfaces and are made with one of nature’s hardest and most abundant materials, quartz, offering a long-lasting application.
Hardwoods are heartier, resistant to weather damage and last a long time when properly maintained; ensure the timber is sourced, harvested and manufactured ethically.
Storage & Care
Left uncared for, outdoor kitchens and furniture can degrade rapidly, but you can extend their life with proper care, maintenance, and storage. Grime builds up in the city, so using covers is a great idea if you’re not using your furniture all the time.
Oil timbers and wipe down surfaces regularly. Treat your outdoor settings as you would any other interior space; as they’re open to all types of weather, it’s even more important to keep them clean and tidy.
Pack away barbecue implements to avoid rust stains and pick leaf and twig litter off your chairs and tables to prevent staining fabrics.
Try Modular Furniture
No matter how big or small the outdoor space is, we all want to make the most of every inch so we can spend more time enjoying the outdoors.
Modular furnishings are a versatile option that you can easily repurpose in future with new fabric and cushions. They work in spaces of any size and can be easily re-positioned for different uses.
A personal favourite of mine is Dedon’s BRIXX modular range. They are weather-proof and accessible from every side, so they don’t stop the flow of a space.
If you’re looking to create an outdoor space, explore the new Caesarstone Outdoor Collection to see what’s possible.