Stylish outdoor living in a UK climate: rethinking your garden or outdoor space August 25, 2016 15:18

While it may be tempting to sit catatonic in front of the TV after being harangued by children / the boss / colleagues / friends / families or, if you are really lucky, all of the above, resist. Instead, in my experience it is far better to head outside and try one of nature's mood enhancers. Except this is the UK, isn't it? Its not all sunshine and sangria out there. Ooh no. Suffocating heat one minute, biblical rain the next. Which is why I totally understand the annoyance one reader felt compelled to share on a recent 'Houzz' post about styling your outside space. A beautifully composed garden style blog along with photography in perfect composition was swiftly undone by 'Sheila' with one simple sentence in the comments field: "Wouldn't work in the UK." 

Harsh Sheila. But you have a point. So how do you add style to your garden if the chances of using an outdoor pizza oven, gorgeous opulent seating and corten steel fire pit for 10 months of the year are fairly slim? 

Stylish Garden Furniture? Think Flexible.

There is a garden furniture set out there for every position and persuasion, but if you want to be able to enjoy the sunshine as soon as it appears, consider folding garden furniture. Lightweight, easy to move around and perfect for creating a different look in a variety of aspects folding garden furniture has come into its own in recent years. There is a style for every garden. Take time to look around; use pinterest or Houzz for inspiration to find stylish garden furniture that suits your outdoor space.

Work with what you've got.

Arrange your garden to make the most of the elements - if you have a boggy, damp garden, take the hint and add a pond. If you get blown about by a strong breeze the minute you step out of your backdoor, consider how amazing that will sound with a few well placed grasses and bamboos around the place, which can also act as windbreaks. In short, work with what you've got. It will mean that your gardening efforts are much more likely to be successful. And you will also find the perfect spots to place your garden furniture in order to enjoy the best view of your hard work and labour.

Avoid garden stereotypes

The gardens shown in magazines and online often fall into three camps: beautiful, wildlife havens on a sunny day; beautiful, sparse manicured contemporary spaces on a sunny day or silent, serenely beautiful gardens on a frosty (but sunny) wintery day. If you only enjoy the garden in fair-weather, you miss out on so much. I'm never happier than when I'm covered in muck on a damp drizzly day having weeded my fingers to the bone. Nothing feels better than what comes next: wrapped up in a blanket, sat in the shed on one of our deckchairs with a steaming hot cup of tea. Bliss. 

Get to grips with the fabric you use outdoors. 

The crux of Sheila's concerns was, (I think) possibly down to the pristine white, billowy cushions strewn across two huge, white outdoor sofas. When Cat and I started work on Denys & Fielding, we wanted to be able to use bright, bold fabrics in the garden. But we also knew the constraints this posed. We had a choice: produce fabric that is water resistant but susceptible to mould or produce a removable, washable version. We went with the latter. If you want to keep your garden cushions outside all year then opt for a fabric and filler that can cope, but be aware that the same fabric might just feel a little sweaty by the time the weather warms up. If you want to use cushions indoors and out, it might be worth opting for a heavy duty, washable fabric and using a protective spray for when your cushions are in the garden. Scotchguard do a fantastic spray for fabrics used outdoors which creates a water resistant barrier on the fabric without producing a stain.  Either way, work with your environment and lifestyle. That way, you'll avoid disappointment when the gloss of a new purchase begins to fade.