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outside in

'Lights add instant cosiness': 5 simple steps to turn your garden into another room for summer

Make the most of every scrap of good weather by transforming your garden – it doesn’t have to be difficult.

SUMMER IS FINALLY upon us. It’s official, even if we’re still waiting for the temperatures to catch up.

So it’s time to look towards the back garden – something you may have been ignoring up until now – and reconsider it as a living space, one that’s yours to reclaim. Beyond the cutting of the grass and the general tidy-up, 2019 can be the year you see your outdoor space in new light.

Done right, it can be an extension of what’s inside. It can feel like an additional room in your house – just one without a ceiling. It can add considerable square footage onto your home. And best of all, it’s a space that can be transformed into something liveable, regardless of whether it’s a sprawling garden or a cosy urban courtyard.

Here’s how to turn your garden into another room for the months ahead.

1. Use lights to add a ‘ceiling’ for cosiness

One of the easiest ways to create a homely vibe outside is to install appropriate lighting. Festoon or outdoor fairy string lighting, hung across a portion of the garden – perhaps above a small patio area – can create the illusion of a ceiling, adding to the cosiness underneath.

If this isn’t feasible, drape the lighting around the perimeter of the garden. Even if this is all you do, already it will feel more homely.

2. Consider your furniture carefully

We’re spoiled for choice these days when it comes to outdoor furniture. You’re no longer stuck with white plastic options; you can easily pick up something affordable that looks good enough to be indoors (try Ikea, Homebase or Woodies).

The most important furniture in your garden is the outdoor dining room set-up. It needs to look the part to entice you out here, even on days when the sun isn’t shining. Opt for something that’s weather-resistant enough to stay outside, regardless of the weather – even if it’s not a great day, when you look outside you want to see a living space.

If your garden is big enough, you can also incorporate a lounging corner with outdoor sofas. If space is tight, decide on how you’re most likely to use the space – dining or chilling – and proceed with either set-up.

3. Instantly zone sit-down spaces with a rug (yes, a rug)

To make your outdoor area feel like a seamless extension of what’s inside, you need to add accessories that could work both indoors and outdoors. Under your outdoor dining area or lounging furniture, add a rug.

Don’t worry – there are lots of rugs available today that are indoor/outdoor and will withstand the elements. They won’t be high pile and fluffy, of course, but a bright or patterned mat underneath the dining table will instantly help to zone the spaces within your garden, as well as adding homely texture.

This works a treat when it comes to convincing your eye that you are in a worthy living space.

4. Add warmth with soft furnishings

Then you need to go one step further with soft furnishings. Chunky knit throws for when the sun goes down (these can be stored inside), bright coloured scatter or floor cushions – which, in fact, is a great way to experiment with colour and patterns that you might be hesitant about using indoors – and of course the cushions that fit in with your lounging or dining furniture.

Garden accessories have come on so much in recent years, much of the fabric and filler for these cushions are durable enough to remain outdoors, meaning you won’t always need a huge cupboard to store them in winter.

5. Throw in one or two extra tricks as a final flourish

When you’ve got your bases covered – including a BBQ station complete with storage space to hold your outdoor tableware – there are some extra decor tricks that can elevate the space a little more.

For one, a large garden mirror hung on a fence or wall works wonders to open up a smaller space, and further adds to the interior vibes.

For urban gardens, an outdoor ladder shelf works well too. Instead of styling it with photo frames and books, however, fill it with outdoor plants in a variety of colourful plant pots to bring the best of the inside and outside together. This is another clever space-saver too.

Finally, considering that we are in Ireland, extra heat will always be appreciated. You can now get small discrete heaters that attach to your back wall without needing an enormous free standing unit that takes up all of your space. If you’ve got plenty of ground to work with, however, a fire pit focal point will work a treat.

More: 7 tips to follow whenever you’re choosing paint colours – plus the biggest trend traps to avoid>

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