One of the key principles used in contemporary landscape design is the creation of an ‘Outdoor Room’. This is where an outdoor space is treated in such a way that it becomes a room for outdoor living. Often it works best when located next to a key internal room like the kitchen, living or lounge. It can then become a genuine extension of the house and be fully integrated into the way the owners live.
To make this concept work in Canterbury, careful consideration has to be given to our prevailing climatic conditions. A successful outdoor room will first need to provide shelter from the ‘Easterly wind’ which tends to pick up in the mid afternoon when you’ve just contemplated what to cook on the barbecue. This can be done with built walls, screens and evergreen hedges. An overhead roof structure can also help and may have the extra benefit of keeping out light rain.
Typically an outdoor room will be heated by the sun and is enjoyed in the afternoon and early evening. The use of outdoor heaters and fireplaces can extend the use of your room when temperatures have dropped.
Given its garden setting, plant selection and planting design will be a key element in setting the character and ambience of your outdoor room. Plants will become the ‘soft furnishings’ of the space.
To finish the room off it will also require some furniture. The range and quality of outdoor furniture has increased in recent years and you can choose a setting which in its own right is a design statement. Traditionally outdoor furniture has been a dining table and chairs. A recent trend that works well is a second more comfortable setting with squabs/cushions and a low side table to compliment the main dining setting. If you opt for a modular setting, you can adjust its configuration to suit the occasion as fits.
Another option for flexible outdoor furnishings is the use of outdoor bean bags. These are great for kids and adults alike and create an informal sitting/lounging option that look great with bright pops of colour on the deck or patio.