Outdoor living room mistakes – these are the 10 things experts say to avoid when designing your space

1. Neglecting plants and views

Deciding where to site your outdoor living room is one of the most exciting garden projects to plan. But a fundamental outside living room mistake to avoid is failing to take into account what already exists around it.

2. Getting the location wrong

Ideally, you want your outdoor living room to flow seamlessly from indoors, so it’s easy to drift between the two. However, this isn’t always possible, especially if your garden is on a slope or there are steps. Your outdoor living space might be higher or lower than the house – or you may be squeezing an outdoor living room onto a balcony.

3. Cramming too much in

Less can definitely be more when it comes to putting together an outdoor living room. Natalie Carton, furniture and home accessories buyer at Fenwick, says the temptation can be to cram too much into what is usually quite a confined space.

Her advice is to think practically about all your ideas: 'How does everything fit into the space and budget you have? A good place to start is deciding the purpose your outdoor living room will have.

'Do you want a seating area for hosting? A pizza oven for cooking? A bar? A water feature? Think about what you need, want, and have space and money for, and marry them all together.'

4. Not linking indoors with out

The easiest way to avoid a jarring difference between indoor and outdoor styles is to think about your outdoor living space as an extension of the home, says Sam. 'Make sure it fits in with your style. Combine the design with the nearest room. For example, if the kitchen backs out onto this area can make it seem as part of it through similar colours and striking accessories.'

5. Not factoring in shelter/privacy

One of the often-overlooked outdoor living room mistakes to avoid is failing to factor in garden shade ideas – very important in our hotter summers – and privacy, especially pertinent if you have neighbours close by.

6. Being mean with seating

Skimping on garden seating space means your guests will never feel entirely comfortable. Take practical steps before you buy furniture. 'Be sure to measure your available space and consider just how much of it you want to furnish,' says Tim. 'You will need enough room for you and your guests to relax in comfort. Consider the internal flow of your space – is it easy to move from zone to zone?  - and avoid blocking doorways or garden paths.'

If you are thinking of including a dining table and chairs in your outdoor living room, Tim recommends leaving at least one metre spare around all sides of the set to allow room sufficient leeway for movement of chairs.

7. Choosing the wrong flooring

To feel like a live-able area, an outdoor living room must have a solid floor, rather than lawn, although gravel can work, but only if the space is relatively far from the house – otherwise you’ll end up with a constant trail of stones indoors.

8. Forgetting it gets dark

Outdoor space is not just somewhere to enjoy during the day – you should be able to make full use of it as the sun goes down too, says designer Benji Lewis.  'Forgetting that it gets dark is one of the those outdoor room mistakes to avoid,' he says. 'You don’t want to be plunged into gloom just as your guest are beginning to relax.'

9. Going too high

As you plan your garden living area layout, watch for that major mistake to avoid; going too high. When you’re relaxing outside, you want to feel as comfortable as possible, and you won’t be able to do this if your outdoor living area is perched on a pedestal.

'That’s why for the Savills garden at RHS Chelsea this year, we pitched the dining area at a lower level than other elements of the garden,' says designer and landscaper Mark Gregory of Landform. 'People instantly feel relaxed when they walk down into a space.'

Make the best use then of any slopes or steps when deciding where to put furniture. If excavating the garden to create a lower level is too difficult or costly, achieve the sheltered effect by using planted screens, to create a sense of seclusion as you walk into the space.

10. Skimping on decent furniture

When you’re looking for the best garden furniture, there’s another one of those outdoor living room mistakes to avoid; buying too cheap and cheerful.

It’s worth budgeting and saving to afford the very best-quality outdoor furniture you can, when looking at how to choose outdoor furniture. Visit the sales and look for solid materials, weatherproof fabrics and ranges which can be added to over time – IKEA has a good selection.

Follow us on Social Media