*This post includes gifted product in collaboration with Skagerak Denmark.
I absolutely love this time of year, when the boundaries between our home and the garden become blurred. Even as we move away from summer now and can feel the seasons beginning to change again, the back door is always open and the garden feels more like a cosy outdoor living space.
As a sort of final salute to the balmy summer months, I’m sharing what I’ve learned so far about making the garden feel like an extension of your home. It’s simple, easy things that can be applied to any space no matter the size or orientation.
Connect The Boundaries
Start with the garden in the same way you would the inside of your home and look at the bare bones. Before you think about plants, consider refreshing the surrounding boundaries, be it wood or metal fencing, brick or concrete walls. Replace any tatty areas if you can. Decide if you want to make an architectural feature of that wall or if you want to tone down the appearance of your fencing.
I’m a huge advocate of the transformative qualities of paint and I personally think black, an anthracite grey or a soft white work wonders as a way to zone and define your garden. You’ll see I’ve carried the black through from the sunroom windows into the garden this way (I used Ronseal Duck’s Back in Black). Although at first it might look dominating, black is actually brilliant for making boring fencing look less imposing. Once you add in planting, they’ll slowly blend in.
Repeat Similar Colours Through Plants and Accessories
A clever way to strengthen the connection between house and garden is to continue your colour palette from indoors. Pick out similar shades and tones that you’ve used for your interiors and echo them in your plants, pots and accessories. This way, the boundaries between the two spaces are blurred and as a result, feel better connected when you look out of the window.
Our own home is fairly muted as colour goes but black features regularly as a contrast. I choose white flowering plants and touches of sepia and beige in a variety of ornamental grasses. I mix terracotta and grey pots to break up some of the black. These really stand out against the fencing which in turn create contrast and visual interest.
Scale and Texture
When an interior feels too flat it’s probably because it’s lacking the texture to give it depth. Remember that spending time in the garden is an experience for the sense – make your plants tactile, introduce scent and don’t forget plants that will pick up the breeze for soothing sounds.
Choose a strong mix of large and small scale planting. Don’t be afraid to try large-leaved plants such as fig, Musa Basjoo bananas and the prehistoric Gunnera against frondy, smaller foliage like grasses and bamboo.
If you’re sticking to a minimal gardening scheme, be bold and go for one or two giant pots – I love the patina of corten steel pots, for example.
Play with different tones in foliage if colour isn’t your thing, planting darkest greens against silvery whites.
Create Space For Relaxation
Our habits naturally change in summer when we finally have the freedom to spend more time out in the garden. We might decide to have our coffee outside in the early morning sun instead of on the sofa. An off-the-cuff dinner can be cooked alfresco and enjoyed well into the evening. Make your garden feel more inviting with outdoor furniture that compliments your tastes indoors.
Before you start looking, think first how you want to use your garden. Do you want a permanent seating or dining area? Do you need space-saving furniture you can quickly fold away on your balcony? Once you’ve found the purpose, look to your furniture indoors to find a style that echos it.
As we use the garden as a family, sharing some of it with a not-so-attractive trampoline (!) we needed something functional that could be folded and stacked away to accommodate water fights, camping in the garden and the like. The Picnic table, designed by Herman Studio for Skagerak is perfect for that purpose. Based on a classic folding leaf table, it’s made in a lightweight aluminium with a carry handle on top to move it as you wish. Stools from the same collection stack easily and look great indoors too when we need a few extra seats around the dining table. Designed by Mia Lagerman, the stackable Mira chairs (set to be a future Skagerak classic if you ask me) throw down stark and striking shadows through steel mesh seats.
Layer The Light
Whether you use it to extend the amount of time you spend in the garden or simply to view it better from indoors, ambient lighting is essential. Outdoor lighting shows the garden from a completely different perspective at night and changes the way you experience it. Solar string lights are an update on a classic and you don’t need to wire them into the mains to enjoy the warm glow in the evening.
You can also use light to accentuate architectural details in your garden. Try solar spots dotted into your border to show off the shape of taller plants or bring a tree to life at night with subtle fairy lights. It can be a clever tool to show how to navigate through the garden at night, lighting your journey along the path to a lounge area as the destination. For more directional light when you’re round the table together, use lanterns.
Grow Your Own
If you’ve yet to try growing your own, I highly recommend it. For one, the relaxation you get from sowing and nurturing plants is enough, but nothing beats the feeling of cooking and eating what you’ve grown. Using produce directly from the garden encourages you to head outside everyone once in a while and stay connected to the garden as it changes through the seasons.
You don’t need huge amounts of space. A group of pots and a stretch of wall or trellis will allow you to grow vertically – great if you have a balcony. Pick easy to grow varieties of tomatoes, courgettes and berries to cultivate your own kitchen garden. Having a few well-stocked pots of herbs to hand by the back door is brilliant when you need a few sprigs for dinner too.
There we have it – how to make the garden feel more like an extension of your home. Summer may be a little long in the tooth now, but these tips will give you a strong foundation to help you bring your indoor and outdoor spaces together, whatever the season.
Photography and Styling © Tiffany Grant-Riley