Expert tips for planning the perfect outdoor space


Start by assessing your outdoor flooring. If you pick the wrong material, living in the space and maintaining it won’t be easy. Sian O’Neill, head of marketing at Topps Tiles, advises that, once fired, porcelain tiles ‘have a high water- and frost-resistance, meaning they’re ideal for outdoor areas that are often exposed to water.’

2 colour coded

Once the base is sorted, start to add colour by painting fencing or even pots. Sue Kim, senior colour designer at Valspar, says that ‘shades such as coral, light teal and yellow are growing in popularity’. Nelly Hall, brand director at M&L Paint, advises ‘to extend your indoor living space into the outdoors, consider painting window frames and doors in colours that draw the eye out to the garden beyond.’

3 al fresco activities

Next, work out what you’re likely to be doing in your garden or on your terrace – and at which times. Then you can create a plan for the space that makes the most of the sunshine, such as ‘a bistro table and chairs in the perfect spot for your morning coffee,’ says Paul Allen, co-founder of Luxury Outdoor Living.‘Or a space with shade for your dining area, to avoid the midday glare.’

See our edited choice of the best outdoor chairsand the best outdoor tables.

4 material gains

When selecting furniture, look for specialist brands that use robust materials. ‘The best outdoor designs should include features such as powder- coated aluminium frames with hidden water-drainage channels, cushions with quick-dry foam and seams that are welded as well as sewn,’ says Tina Mahony, co-founder of Go Modern. ‘And don’tforget UV and mould-resistant finishes.’

The style of the pieces should also be chosen wisely, as Tom Curtis, creative manager at Indian Ocean, notes: ‘Your furniture shouldn’t dominate the space, but blend into the home and garden. Co-ordinate finishes of your furniture choices with architectural features of your home, such as blackpowder-coated steel finishes if you have Crittall-style windows.’

5 lightbulb moment

To create a zone that can be enjoyed from day to night, the right lighting is a must. When planning this, Katy Higgins, outdoor living buyer at Homebase, says it’s important to ‘ensure there’s enough ambient light to illuminate seating areas and make surfaces and steps safe to navigate. Then, use accent lighting to highlight features and create interest – the fun of being outdoors at night relies on creating the right atmosphere.’

Find more ideas for outside spaces.

Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, Livingetc showcases the world's very best homes, breaks and makes the trends, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. It was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip Rich.