1. Start with your colour scheme. It needn’t be a mirror image, but ideally, this will be influenced in tone and shape by what’s going on indoors. Your decking timber might be the outdoor grade of your indoor floorboards and your interior wall colour could extend outside onto a screen. Keeping the look cohesive will help maintain a seamless indoor-outdoor flow.
2. Find your focal point. Note: this should not be your washing line, ugly shed or tired fence. We’re talking beauty here, people! Move the washing line to a less obtrusive spot and disguise less-than-attractive structures by painting them a dark colour to help them ‘disappear’ and planting in front. For a speedy solution, centre a mature statement tree, install a water feature or add a graceful sculpture.
3. Furniture for your outdoor space should be as inviting as your indoor pieces to promote extensive lounging. Choose your big-ticket items first. Look for cushioned sofas and armchairs, and if they’ll be positioned within view of your exterior doors, ensure they have low seat backs so can see over them into the garden. Group facing each other for ease of conversation, with the central piece facing your focal point, then add in an elegant coffee table and/or a couple of side tables. Natural timber is a good choice for an outdoor setting and the tones won’t conflict with an indoor scheme.
4. Aim for a combination of light fittings. Task lighting is important in zones such as the food prep and barbeque areas, but unless you intend to curl up with a book outside, you could try a central decorative fitting teamed with outdoor floor and table lamps, and use spots out in the garden proper to subtly highlight statement trees and shrubs and define the space. A backlit feature panel doubles as an artwork and ambient light provider, or try grouping lanterns with battery-operated candles around the deck for a romantic touch.
5. Accessorise! Layer up with an outdoor rug or two – large enough to fit under the front legs of your sofas and chairs – and pop in a selection of pretty outdoor cushions. Add a throw or two for softness, and hang inexpensive artworks or an outdoor mirror on the walls. Finally, celebrate the difference! Groupings of pots strategically positioned around the space will help you remember why you wanted to be outdoors in the first place.