What’s the difference between a patio and an outdoor room? You might well ask. We’re hearing the term ‘outdoor room’ a lot recently and finally reached the conclusion that it’s simply a patio you use more often and, if possible, all year round. Which not only clears up the nagging question, it also leads to some very happy thoughts of being outside on crisp winter evenings as well as long, warm summer nights. But, if that’s the plan, now’s the time to start prepping the space. Here are some easy ideas, a few investments and a little inspiration to transform even the tiniest patch into a coveted ‘outdoor room’ in no time.
Make the outdoors inviting any time
Too many of us get locked into the habit of closing a door on the world at the first hint of September. It’s a natural reaction to the cold, damp weather and most gardens don’t do winter beautifully, so they’re better off ignored. But instead of shutting out the outdoors, what about bringing it closer to home and making it a lot more accessible? We like the idea of framing an outdoor room with glazed, folding doors. They’re cosy and bright when it’s too cold to be out and– with a little imaginative heating and lighting – make the patio ridiculously inviting, even in the depth of November. The more glass the better and Vufold’s Elite range is a perfect example: slim, oak frames and lots of window to maximise the temptation of your outdoor room.
|Image courtesy of Pixabay.|
Have an evergreen planting plan
If the reason you haven’t explored using your patio all year round is the thought of dreary plants, there are some very glamorous evergreens that could change your mind. Green Mountain Boxwood grows like a miniature pyramid of glossy green in containers. Bring it to the forefront in October and in summer, when you’ve got flowers and blooms to show off, it makes a fantastic, dense backdrop. Miniature laurel bushes and trees are another hardy favourite for winter green and work wonderfully in pots. Small fir trees may seem a strange thought at first, but the varieties are endless and they like to be root bound, so good on the patio too. And, if you have a wall and don’t mind waiting a bit for the big reveal, Winter Flowering Jasmine is lovely and smells delicious. You may not be able to have year round abundance, but imaginative container planting and seasonal rotation can create plenty of green to lure you outside – even in January.
Think warm, beautiful and exotic
A giant, flaming patio heater does not a lovely outdoor room make, that much we know for sure. Instead, look to a more exotic and manageable version of the fire-pit: an Indian Fire Bowl. You may have spotted them as glamping accessories at various summer festivals over the past few years and thought how pretty they were. But until quite recently they were surprisingly hard to come by. Not anymore, Firepits UK have an excellent range of handcrafted fire bowls in various sizes with a whole raft of accessories too. So you can have a cosy winter evening on the patio and, come summer, convert your heater into a barbecue – in the true spirit of a year round outdoor room.
Add some sparkle to the space
Twinkly lights might be done to death, but that’s only because they work and don’t cost a fortune for fantastic impact. Christmas tree lights aren’t the way to go. They’re too small and volatile for outdoors and, without ropes and ropes of them, they’re a bit of a non-event. If you have a pergola, a net of lights looks enchanting and will definitely persuade you outside any time. No canopy? Look at strings of outdoor lights threaded through tree branches. Or, with a handy wall, put up some hooks, edge the space with bulbs and place candles in storm lanterns or large jars close to seats or tables. Unless you’re reading or working outdoors at night, you really only need light for effect. And ‘soft and subtle’ is the effect to go for. Plus, once you’ve got outdoor lighting organised, it can stay in situ so it works to lengthen summer evenings as well as brightening up autumn and winter.
So now you know how to get an outdoor room going, we’ll leave the rest up to you and the way your space works best. Just remember: a patio isn’t a patio anymore and it’s definitely not just for summer.
* Collaborative Post.