A ray of sunshine is enough to bring back the desire for being outdoors at one’s home, perhaps organising a barbecue or lunch in the garden. But welcoming guests outside rather than inside doesn’t mean giving up style, comfort and luxury, on the contrary! Here are some ideas for luxury furnishing for the outdoors.
Garden, patio, porch or pool come back in vogue with the summer. But that’s not all, because with the advent of new technologies and new materials, the outdoors is now being used even in winter. To make it luxurious and at the same time comfortable, it is necessary to painstakingly design the spaces and carefully choose the furnishings, the combination of colours and lighting, as well as having a clear idea of what our tastes are (or the tastes of the client).
Whether you need to furnish a patio or an entire garden, the obligation is to make the most of all of the space according to the use it is destined for, without weighing down the final effect, opting for resistant and multipurpose materials, usable in every season but at the same time, able to match the interiors. Here is a brief guide for architects and designers who are looking for new ideas to furnish a luxurious outdoor area.
Behind a good furnishing project there must be a careful study of the space and of the client’s needs. Before choosing the most suitable furnishing accessories and accessories it is necessary to measure, compare and keep in mind the use that will be made of the outdoor space. Here are some useful tips to apply before starting our furnishing project.
What kind of outdoor space are we called upon to design? Furnishing a patio, a garden, a terrace or a swimming pool is certainly not the same thing, starting from the main difference that comes to mind: the size. In fact, the available area can change considerably, therefore it is of fundamental importance to design according to the square metres and the peculiarities of the available space.
For example, the approach will be different if there are differences in height on the ground, if there are stairs or other obstacles. It is also important to consider where the house is located and what surrounds it. Once you have the specificities of the place established, you can start thinking about how to take advantage of its strengths and how to turn weaknesses into furnishing opportunities.
After investigating the area and its layout, we need to understand, together with the client, what the use of the outdoor space will be. Here are some questions to ask our client: the more comprehensive the answers are, the more details we will have in order to do a good job.
Furthermore, thinking about the age and the movement possibilities of our clients is important so that we select furnishings that prove to be usable and comfortable for everyone. It is advisable to make a distinction between the various outdoor areas (if there should be more than one): relaxation area, dining area, aperitif area, pool space and so on. Answering all these questions will help us determine which items of furniture are necessary (tables, chairs, sofas, lights, flat surfaces, etc.), and in what number and size.
A fundamental aspect that is sometimes underestimated is the exposure of the area to weathering. Depending on whether the outdoor space is covered or uncovered, facing north, south, east or west, we will have to think about more or less durable and resistant materials. Moreover, even the location of the house has its importance: if we are furnishing a cottage in England we will have to think about different solutions compared to a villa in Algarve, also due to the use that is made of the outdoors.
Finally, we consider the idea of setting up a hidden space where we can store furniture in the periods when the house is closed (only if it is a house used exclusively in the spring/summer).
Just like for rooms and interior spaces, it is important to define a focal point when we start designing an outdoor area. It may be a fountain or a particular piece of furniture, or more simply the outdoor living area comprised of the sofas and the table. From here you can start designing the rest of the area that will unfold in a logical way. It is important to define well the area that will be used the most: it can be a relaxation area with beds and deckchairs, or the living area with chairs and ottomans, or the dining area with the table and barbecue.
To choose the best arrangement for an outdoor space, it is essential to take into account the exposure it has to light. If the patio is south-facing and has no walls, we can for example decide to furnish only the paved area keeping the shapes regular and simple, or on the contrary we can opt for a decor that plays with contrasting shapes for a decidedly more informal and contemporary outdoor space.
If instead we have to furnish a semi-covered area with walls and less exposure to light, we can stick to a more classic decor.
As mentioned above, choosing the right furniture for an outdoor space implies taking into consideration the lifestyles and wishes of the client and the intended use of the space. After reflecting on these concepts, it is essential to create an enjoyable area at any time of the day through pleasant lighting.
So before starting to think about furniture, we need to design a lighting plan that enhances the spaces and leaves nothing to chance: the light points will have to highlight both the decorative elements of the garden and the functional areas such as the dining area. Read the next few paragraphs to get more details on how to light up a luxurious outdoor area.
After setting up our furnishing project, it could be useful to visit the showrooms to actually see the selected furniture and accessories. Seeing the furnishings in person, we will be able to try them, check their comfort and colour, touch the materials and imagine the objects arranged in the area to be furnished.
When one designs the outdoor area to be furnished in a luxurious way, it is a good idea to choose furniture that can be used throughout the year to avoid deterioration of the materials and mechanical parts. How? By preferring multipurpose pieces, that is, ones that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, extentable tables to be used with few or many guests, height-adjustable benches that can act as both a seat and a support surface for food and drinks during the holidays, chairs that elongate to become comfortable loungers and so on. Furthermore, multi-purpose objects are particularly useful when the space available is limited.
Another “trick” to continue to use the furniture throughout the year is to find objects that can furnish both the indoor and outdoor spaces. In this way, in winter, our clients will not be forced to find a space for the storage of outdoor furniture, because they will be able to bring all of it inside. A good starting point to find luxury furniture that can work in this way is to keep in mind the style of the interior design when choosing our outdoor furniture pieces, so that they don’t look “out of place” when they are inside the house.
To ensure that your project is appreciated and does not lose value over time, you have to be very careful when choosing furnishing accessories. The client must be aware that investing today means having high quality furniture that lasts over time, both in terms of quality and style. Today you can choose from many materials and models, but what should not be lacking is the high quality of the fabric, the structure and the mechanics of the furnishing accessories related to the function that they will be used for.
It is worth remembering that when we talk about quality, what is “good quality” depends in part on subjective parameters to the situation (different materials will react differently depending on weather conditions, some are more suitable for children to use and be around and others are not and so on).
Balancing these two aspects may seem difficult, but it is fundamental because there is no luxury without comfort. No design object, however beautiful or flashy, will ever be adequate if it is not also comfortable and functional. We should therefore be careful not to fall into the trap of something that is beautiful but useless or impractical: we would risk disappointing our client over time.
The living area is one of the most important parts of the outdoor area, especially if our client needs to give dinners or lunches in the open air during the summer (or even in winter, if covered). We must therefore pay close attention to the furnishing of this area, choosing furniture that can withstand the elements and temperature changes, but at the same time, be beautiful and comfortable.
For classic furnishings we opt for a table in teak wood with strictly steel inserts, indestructible, and chairs in politech, a material that creates a luxurious effect and is at the same time one of extreme comfort. For a more modern decor, instead, we can choose a table with particular shape, or on the contrary, very geometric shapes, with neutral shades such as white or dark grey.
Another key part of the outdoor area is the relaxation area, where most of the time is likely to be spent. Sofas, ottomans and armchairs must be absolutely comfortable, as well as of top design. Obviously keeping the same style of the living area, we choose furniture with clean shapes and neutral tones, whether light or dark, which we will then brighten up with cushions and accessories. We complete everything with a low outdoor table that repeats the colour of the structure of the sofas and armchairs in its own.
If we are dealing with the furnishing of a garden or a very large space, it could be useful to place some outdoor benches, to allow those who sit on them to enjoy the greenery and shade. Given that they will be the furnishing accessories that are the most exposed to the elements, the material with which they are made is very important: wrought iron or wood, which must be totally waterproofed. Remember to follow the same style as the other areas: even if they are not visible from the living area, they must be absolutely in line with the overall style.
Chaise lounges, sunbeds, canopies: depending on the space available, you can choose the furniture for the pool area (even if there is no pool, we can still create a “sunbathing” area). Soft cushions and ease of use in this case are the priority; only after having ascertained their comfort will we be able to select soft and rounded lines or harder shapes.
Outdoor lighting should be suffused and effective, without becoming overly theatrical. To design good lighting that is elegant and understated, take into consideration all the tools at your disposal, from stairway lights to underwater reflectors, hanging cage lanterns to floor lamps.
For outdoor lighting you can choose from many alternatives: the important thing is to be able to create a magical atmosphere in every corner of the garden (or patio, terrace and so on). Therefore, it is necessary to choose the right lighting for each area. For the relaxation area and the living area you can opt for floor lamps with special shapes or lanterns to be placed on the table that give an oriental and very elegant touch to the environment. Lanterns can also be placed on trees to softly illuminate the rest of the garden and create a truly magical environment.
If the outdoor space is adjacent to the house, it will also be possible to install a suspended lamp for the outdoor dining area. Choose a warm light, but one that is however not too strong, so that it illuminates with elegance. A particular decoration of the lamp in keeping with the decorative motifs of the floor or accessories will be perfect. Follow the style of the rest of the furniture: classic or modern, retro or reminiscent of the beach, provided that all of it is elegant and consistent.
There are obviously differences between the lighting design of a garden and that of a terrace. For the lighting of a terrace it is best to avoid spotlights, which are not appropriate for a smaller space. If you really need it to be well lit, you can opt for small wall lights to be anchored to the ledge, but it is better to alternatively choose lanterns to place carefully in various corners of the terrace. Ok even with suspended lamps and floor lamps with a short shaft.
Lighting the paths and walkways is essential, both for the safety of the guests and the hosts, and because it creates a unique effect in the garden. Small spotlights set on the sides of the path or slightly raised, depending on the type of environment you will need to decorate, will be the right choice.
If you are lucky enough to furnish a garden with a swimming pool, you can play with underwater LED micro lights to insert into the pool. The light, thanks to the presence of water, will spread softly creating reflections and unique light effects.
Keep the outdoor furniture style clean and elegant: if you want to give a splash of colour, use accessories and decorations. A rug for the outside, a blanket to lay on each chair, cushions and furnishings: so many things can give life and embellish an outdoor space. Remember that it is very important to choose carefully: adding new colours or patterns can profoundly change the feeling you want to convey.
If you want to add new colours and patterns, there are no rules, but there are a couple of tricks you can keep in mind. When combining the motifs, using complementary fabrics is a great way to mix them. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to match the colours to the furniture: positioning the complementary colours evenly will give a consistent appearance and will add visual interest to the space. The strips can be used with virtually any other pattern and, when you combine multiple prints of the same two or three colours, you will create a nice combination of patterns that will give movement to your furniture.
Carefully designing the furnishing of a luxury outdoor space takes time and effort. We must choose a style according to the needs of the owners and the arrangement of the accessories with respect to the characteristics of the terrain. It is then necessary to explore and personally experience various materials and pieces of furniture, try different combinations, design the lighting and finally produce a complete rendering. But few things give more satisfaction than seeing a completed project, especially if it includes green areas and spaces dedicated to relaxation and leisure.
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