Embrace the Outdoors - How outdoor living design can transform lives

Outdoor kitchen

Even in the depths of winter, the tiniest glimpse of blue sky can turn our thoughts to the promise of long summer days ahead: dreams of entertaining friends in beautifully designed outdoor kitchens, or happy teens congregating around the firepit. Outdoor living has become a huge trend in recent years, and it’s only set to get bigger this year. To make sure you get the most out of your outdoor living space, we reveal the dos and don’ts of outdoor living design.

Why is outdoor living design so important?


At Keltie & Clark, we always say that we don’t build gardens; we transform lives. So, when we start designing outdoor living spaces for our clients, we always start with a few basic questions. 

  • How is this garden going to transform your lives?
  • How can we add value to your life with our design?
  • As garden designers, how can we encourage you to go outside?

We know that everyone wants something different from their outdoor space. Whether it’s a space to entertain, a hot tub outdoors, a wildlife pond, or a hidden alcove to read books where the children can’t see you sitting there, it’s our job to create an outdoor living design that you will enjoy using all year round. Here’s how:


1. Think about the type of lifestyle you lead

An outdoor space doesn’t have to be high maintenance but the more you use it, the more inclined you will be to keep it looking its best. That said, you do need to be honest about how you see yourself using your outdoor space. For example, while we can agree that fire pits and pizza ovens look inviting and atmospheric, if you’re never going to light a fire, don’t even think about including one. If you prefer to flick a switch, there are plenty of options for heating and cooking outdoors that we can build into your outdoor living design.


2. Outdoor living design doesn’t have to be complicated

It’s really a case of designing a space to suit your taste. For some clients, we’ve created and installed some ultra sleek outdoor kitchens, complete with bespoke elements, such as built-in pizza ovens and sinks, breakfast bars with granite worktops and spotlights in the roof structures. But some clients prefer a more rustic outdoor living design, incorporating natural materials such as wood and installing a log burner as a heat source. And remember, not every outdoor kitchen space has to have a roof – we’ve designed some beautiful outdoor spaces that are left open to the elements.


3. Use all the unique spaces in the garden

When designing outdoor living spaces, it is important to think about the whole of the garden footprint and not just the obvious main section. What hidden spaces are there that you can use to create little sanctuaries? Side returns, the bottom of the garden, unloved veg patches – a good garden designer can turn these unique places into something really special. You may also find that while exploring these hidden spaces, you unearth something really wonderful, for example, a view you never appreciated, a spot to capture the last of the evening sunshine, or a private hideaway that’s unseen by others.  


4. Incorporate multiple spaces that everyone can use

When it comes to outdoor living design, it can be easy to just focus on creating one large entertaining space. The temptation is to assume that the whole family will simply use the space as one, but that may be wishful thinking. It’s much better to design different outdoor ’rooms’ in the garden where different groups can congregate at different times. You may decide on one main dining area, but then think about other spaces – a place where teens can lounge on beanbags around the firepit, a cosy corner with soft seating for reading, a calming area for contemplation.


5. Don’t put your patio straight outside your back door

This is something we see a lot of in outdoor living design but we always try to steer our clients away from simply putting their patio straight out of their back door. Part of what we do as outdoor living designers is to bring your garden into your home, so we encourage clients to position entertaining spaces, whether that’s an outdoor kitchen or dining area, away from the house. This helps the client become more immersed in the garden as a whole, rather than focusing on what’s on the doorstep and neglecting the rest. 


Outdoor living design trends


Just as in interior design, there are some key trends in outdoor living design. Some of these trends have been around for a while and are gaining momentum as more and more people choose to experience the pleasure of spending more time outdoors.

Outdoor kitchens

What was once a fantasy for many people is now becoming more of a reality. We’ve designed and installed a range of outdoor kitchens, from the very high-end to more rustic-looking simple structures. Some are covered and some are uncovered, some have pizza ovens and BBQs built-in with beer fridges, sinks and marble worktops and some have a simple log burning stove and a couple of bar stools. It really depends on the style you want, your budget and how it will look in your garden space. 

Pizza ovens

This is one trend that shows no sign of slowing down. At one time, the only pizza oven you could have in the UK is one that you built yourself but now there are companies designing and building bespoke pizza ovens as well as a range of mobile pizza ovens for use on BBQs and stoves. 


Hot tubs

If there’s one way to help you enjoy your garden space more, it’s to install a hot tub. Electric versions are great if you are the kind of person who likes to be able to simply switch on and go, while wood-fired hot tubs lend a certain rural charm to a space. And there’s always the option of turning your hot tub into an ice bath if that floats your boat more!


Outdoor gyms and pools

We are increasingly being asked to design outdoor spaces that can be used for exercise but that also work aesthetically. For example, natural swimming ponds are a growing trend for clients who want to incorporate an element of nature into their garden. But we also design and install swimming pools to suit all garden spaces, including plunge pools and resistance training pools. Outdoor gyms are another popular request – after all, what could be better than working out in the middle of a beautiful natural setting rather than a sweaty, air-conditioned gym!


Need help with your outdoor living design?

If you would like advice about how to get the most out of your outdoor space, get in touch with us. Our garden designers will create an outdoor living design that makes you want to be outside!

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