Whether you have a balcony or a country seat, we've gathered together the necessities in spaces of every size
It's a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a garden must be in want of a furnishing or two. Post pandemic we've all become that much more aware of the benefits of outdoor space. Getting outside for even a few minutes a day can feel like glorious respite from the monotony of our (relatively) new work from home, hybrid working lives. If you're lucky enough to have even a sliver of garden, a slice of balcony, or a scoop of land, it's imperative you make the most of it, but how to know what your space actually needs? We've canvassed our archives to show you just how to make the most of your plot.
Say it with us, a balcony means a bistro set. There's really not much else for it. Find a sweet set for two or four and make the very best of your space. A good option is a modular set from IKEA. You can add to it in the summer, and slim it down in winter when you're less likely to have people over. It'll fit neatly into awkward spots. To create the illusion of height, consider a tiered planter, or hanging pots, that'll draw the eye upwards.
If you're lucky enough to have a terrace, you'll know that without planting they can feel a little austere, especially in the winter. That's why we recommend bringing colour in to the space with your furniture. Raj Tent Club's Palm Springs Daybed would be top of our wish list, with its cheerful stripes and ornate frame. There's something of a high end hotel or smart members' club about it. To really lean into that illusion, why not add a pizza oven? Freshly cooked pizzas are always a winner with guests and it'll produce a little extra heat on chillier evenings.
Of course, it goes without saying that in the UK there aren't too many sunny days, so you need to make the most of them whilst they are here. A solid teak sun lounger will do the trick, and weather the British elements well.
There's no two ways about it, you're pretty limited with your choices if you've only got a small front garden. However, we are advocates for making the most of whatever space you do have. If your front garden gets some sunshine, a charming bench will provide a comfortable place to sit and watch the world go by, without being too high maintenance. Couple the bench with some colourful pots and you're away.
Just a side return
If you've been blessed with an awkward side return, it can be tricky to know what to do with it. There's no escaping the fact that it's a thin, narrow space, so why not lean into it instead of trying to make it what it's not? Deftly demonstrated in Laura Heybrook's Oxford garden, the garden designer has added in a row of terracotta pots and wall climbing plants to ensure every inch of the space is used wisely. A bistro set, in a smart wrought iron, offers a spot to sit down with a morning coffee.
Creating a space that's intentionally secluded and romantic, rather than just small, means making considered decisions. A small garden presents another opportunity for a smart bistro set, but this time go bold with colour. After all, you want it to almost blend in with the planting around it. Adding an outdoor mirror will also help to create the illusion of more space, and a small portable lamp, placed in the centre of the table, will make the whole thing feel cosy and ambient when the sun begins to set.
A city garden needs to be a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the world outside. Paradise in the parking lot, if you will. To make the most of your space, a set of dining tables and chairs will encourage you to eat meals in the fresh air, and host parties in the garden. Alternatively, consider a lounge set made up of a comfortable sofa or two, set around a fire pit.
If you live in the countryside, and are lucky enough to still have a patch of your own, then this is your chance to really make it your own. Choose furnishings that flatter the more rugged setting, rather than juxtapose it. Think floral parasols, ornate wrought iron pieces and rattan seating. Ensure you have plenty of extra seating for when guests come to stay, as well as a comfortable place to lie down and relax on a still summer's day.
Approach a large garden much like you would an open plan house. You need to create ‘zones' for every conceivable activity so you don't end up with a hodgepodge of things on a square of lawn that's repeatedly used as a football pitch. You'll want an area for dining (that's a must in a large garden), as well as a space for lounging, napping or reading. Ensure the dining area is as close to the house as is feasible: you don't want to be carrying tray after tray of food and drinks across hills and hedgerows.
Sure, this category likely doesn't apply to many of us, but for those that it does, go bold for the rest of us! Think big! There's not much you can't do here. Put a colourful garden tent from Raj Tent Club in a secret corner, put a dining table and chairs in the Italian garden, put a bistro set in the centre of the Box maze (we assume everyone has one, otherwise what a waste!). With a really spacious garden, your furniture need not be cohesive either, as you won't be able to see one from the other. Lean into that and have fun with it!
This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.