Outdoor Living: Seating areas, outside kitchens and offices

From seating areas, outside kitchen and offices, check out this blog from Camilla Grayley.

Outdoor working at the Chelsea Flower Show 2012

I’ve been thinking about outdoor living recently for two reasons, last week I spent time drooling over the gardens on display at The Virtual Chelsea Flower Show and we are all going to be spending more time at home this year, the ultimate staycation. Whether this is creating a beautiful vista framed by a window to look out onto, creating more areas or changing the use of spaces to make the most of spending time outside.

Seated area in a Cornish garden surrounded by colourful and scented plants

Outdoor Kitchens

One of the key trends for this year was already set to be outdoor kitchens but if this glorious weather continues (although a little rain wouldn’t go amiss for the gardens) I suspect they will become even more popular. Starting at one end of the range from choosing a new barbecue or pizza oven for your garden to having a food preparation space next to your cooking station or a full blown kitchen with its own sink, a drinks fridge and fragrant herbs growing with arms reach while cooking.Whether this is mixing and matching modular units from specialist companies, anything from a built-in barbecue, pizza ovens to food preparation areas, a sink to either leave drinks cooling in, fridges and firepits. Or going down the bespoke route of having one built to match materials used in the house or garden, they are likely to be an alternative to sitting outside a beach bar or taverna for a while.

Dining area outside a cafe in gardens in Bologna in converted cold frames

Outdoor Living Areas

Whether it’s on a balcony, in a courtyard or larger garden, having an outdoor living space is also increasingly important, from a chair to enjoy a morning cup of coffee on, a dining area with anything from a small bistro set to a lounge area with comfy sofas and a coffee table. Its worth thinking about what works best in your garden, one multiple use area that can start the day with coffee, morph into an office and finally convert into a dining space. Do you want to follow the sun round the garden throughout the day or create a shady nook to escape the midday heat. This can be anything from adding a parasol, a sail shade, using planting or a combination of the two. From a strategically placed tree or large shrub that creates shade or an arbour or pergola with scented climbers twining around and on larger structures a sale shade that can be rolled out once the sun reaches its full intensity. Not only will having an enclosed or covered space be useful in summer it’s an ideal way to extend garden use beyond the summer, a chance to sit out on an autumn or winter day or stop for a short break in between raking up the leaves.

Flemings Nursery Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

Outdoor/Garden Office Spaces

As working from home for many is likely to become a permanent feature of life having an alternative outdoor space to work from, its always good to have a change of scenery from working in the spare room or at the kitchen table. As far back as 2012 (and probably before) this was thought about at the Chelsea Flower Show, where outdoor office spaces were thought about as the future, where colleagues could sit out in summer in an outdoor office space working from tablets. Allowing people to work outside in office courtyards or converting part of a car park when weather permits could certainly be a model for the future, there has definitely been an increasing trend for offices to provide outdoor lunch spaces where possible. In your own garden this could be adding a chair to a shady nook or sun trap (depending on your preference), adding a small table to perch a laptop on or even a home office or studio in a corner of the garden. Although my favourite place to sit in my garden is on the bottom step down to the lawn, at that point I’m level with the flowers and can take them all in and I feel like I’m enclosed in my own little space where no one can see me, despite the overlooking windows.

Outdoor working at the Chelsea Flower Show 2012


About the Author

Camilla Grayley is a garden designer based in York, mainly working in and around Yorkshire but has travelled up and down the UK to design gardens and is always happy to travel to help clients with their gardens. I love creating gardens with strong architectural outlines softened by voluminous planting that draws on year round interest, ensuring there is something to capture the eye whatever the season. Gardens should always evoke all the senses from the colour palette on the eye, to the rustling of plants swaying in the wind to the amazing perfumes that can be inhaled, whether on a summer’s evening or the depth of winter. or contact me


If you would like to know more working with me please feel free to have a look at my Garden Design and Garden Consultancy Services  or contact me.

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