We all want our gardens to be a little sanctuary. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your garden, by creating a custom outdoor living space that is both functional and unique to your requirements.

Creating custom outdoor living spaces is the perfect way to reflect your personality in the garden.
This outdoor area is the perfect setting to enjoy your garden in style. Image courtesy of Karen McClure and Esse Landscapes

Choose your style

Your first step is to decide what kind outdoor space would suit you best. Do you want a garden for entertaining or would you like to keep it intimate? Does it need to be child- or pet-friendly? Would you like your outdoor space to be a haven for plants or contain your very own vegetable patch?

Now’s when to think about the style of your garden. You choice of paving will have a big impact on these and you should also consider what level of maintenance you want to give it. Riven sandstone suits traditional designs and can be quaint and charming. A more modern design will be sleek and stylish and porcelain or sawn paving would be a good choice. You could even take inspiration from overseas and recreate a Japanese garden, in which case a shou sugi ban effect would be ideal.

Decide what goes where

Think about what part of your garden gets the most sunlight and build your design around that. Consider existing structures in the garden. For example, a tall healthy tree might provide all the shade you require at the right time of day. Consider what access you currently have to your garden and how best to incorporate it into the design. You may, for example, need to think about redesigning garden paths to make access easier.

Relax in the garden with the right garden furniture.
Garden furniture is an essential part of every garden.

If you already have bi-fold doors and a patio, then a cohesive indoor/outdoor scheme will blur the lines between your garden and house to produce a single space that will tempt you outdoors more easily.

A fundamental way to do this is create an indoor/outdoor space with paving. It's also worth matching your indoor and outdoor décor style. For example, if your indoor living space is minimal and modern, your outdoor space will complement it if you employ clean lines and simple furnishings. If your home is more traditional in style, rustic furniture and accessories are a more likely match.

Be honest about your tolerance for maintenance

This is important. For an outdoor space to work for you, it must fit into your lifestyle and interests. If you enjoy gardening, then a border of annuals might be just what you need. If you’d rather spend time entertaining, then low-maintenance paving reduces the time and effort required to clean up after spills. Porcelain generally requires less attention than natural stone. Trees, bulbs and a lawn are easier to keep under control than planted borders.

Think about shelter

Grey aluminium louvred pergola over wooden dining set on sunny patio with lawns and planted beds behind.
Our Proteus Grey pergola with a louvred roof provides a versatile shelter, as on this patio designed by VaRa Garden Design.

A spot that’s sheltered from the elements allows you to spend more time outside, whatever the weather. Metal pergolas, gazebos and shade sails are options to think about. Metal pergolas add structure and a permanent feature. Gazebos offer you the flexibility to pop the shelter up and down as required. With their smaller footprint, shade sails can work well in smaller gardens. You can weigh up differences further in Metal Pergola Vs Gazebo Canopy - Pros And Cons.

Do you want to work outdoors?

If you work from home, then being able to take the laptop outdoors in hot weather is a real plus. Have a quick think about where in your garden you will be working. Sun and laptops do not go hand in hand. There is the risk of your machine overheating, which is less then ideal mid Zoom call! But there is also screen glare that can be a real problem. You should consider the position of the sun, ease of access to power, and your Wi-Fi reach in your set up.

Think about furniture early on

Often the last thing on the list to buy, garden furniture is arguably the most important factor to consider. So, it’s a good idea to build it into your first ideas for a custom outdoor living space.

What will you mainly be using the space for? How much room do you need to manoeuvre?  You’ll probably want to put seating under the shelter, so measure up the area you have designated to ensure it’s the right size for your needs. If you are planning on doing plenty of entertaining, you’ll want a lounging/dining set with plenty of space. Alternatively, if you are looking to create a more intimate space, a bistro or recliner set would be perfect.

Outdoor heating

Fire pit table with bench seating under pergola on patio of Trendy Black Porcelain
A fire pit or firepit table, as used in this design by Jilayne Richards, built by Landscaping Solutions, offers a warm spot for outdoor living.

Do you want a heat source? A fire pit is an attractive alternative to patio heaters. It can also be the perfect focal point for garden furniture. Fire pits can be used year-round. In the summer they make an interesting feature, and are one of the essentials for using the garden during the colder months.

Do you want to cook outdoors?

A barbecue is an obvious way to take a vital activity into the garden. But a pizza oven offer just as much enjoyment, especially with kids choosing their own pizza toppings. Or take a look at ideas for outdoor kitchens to create a bespoke outdoor living space that complements your lifestyle.

Do you need planters?

Planting is another essential for creating a custom outdoor living space. The perfect way to border your garden, it hides boundaries, making a space feel bigger and generally enhances your space. But also think about planters—these can be particularly useful for helping to add privacy to your garden. But will they suit your lifestyle—you’re your remember to water, or do you need to put in automatic irrigation?

Do you want garden lighting?

Lighting can be used to define spaces, highlight key focal points and offer additional safety and security. Read about incorporating lights into your garden scheme.

Keeping the garden in order

Good storage will enhance your bespoke space. Garden storage solutions hide away unsightly aspects like bins, or keep logs neatly tucked away. If you’re short of space indoors, it can be useful for keeping cushions dry. The most practical position will be nearer the house.

Creating a custom outdoor living space expands the parameters of your home into the garden and expands your life into the garden. Start finding inspiration for the style you want with our wide range of outdoor paving.

Post updated: July 2023