Throw Open Your Doors And Embrace The Outdoor Living Trend

As temperatures rise, so too does our desire to be outside. Warmer weather, pretty flowers and even prettier sunsets coupled with the smell of backyard braais is enough to tempt even the most reclusive outside.

Barefoot, and carefree, sipping drinks with friends or enjoying garden games with the family, this is what outdoor living is all about and it is so on trend right now. Whether you have a sprawling green garden, a sizable patio to play with, or just a tiny balcony – your outdoor space is a valuable part of your home that should be maximised to its full potential.

Yet it involves much more than just dotting some cute plant pots around a few deck chairs on the veranda. Only a well thought out design can create a relaxed and inviting outside area that is just as comfortable and stylish as the interiors of your living room. A top Cape Town interior designer and behaviour strategist Kim Williams shares some clever ways to help you open your outdoor area this summer.

Start with the basics
Before even heading to the nursery or garden centre, sit down and carefully think about how you are going to use your outdoor space and who is going to use it. Are you wanting to do a lot of hosting for example and if so, how many people would you be looking to comfortably seat and entertain in your outdoor area?

If you have children or pets, then their preferences needs to be taken into consideration too and may mean sectioning off part of the outdoor space for a play area just for them. Don’t be afraid of this – zoning is central to getting the most out of your outdoor space so be open to the idea of separating areas. Things like adding a gazebo at the end of the garden for some privacy and incorporating easy pathways to access the various spaces from the indoors is very important.

If you are having a braai area, then the space around it is just as crucial as the type of braai you select. Although very much a personal choice, a good old wood braai with a wood burner on the side is a favourite in our home. We also have a separate freestanding gas braai to give us flexibility of choice but having the two only works if you have the space for them.

Really spend some time understanding what you want from your outdoor space so that it can work best for you, your family, and your lifestyle, and don’t forget to include a quiet area for relaxing and recharging, especially after all those hosting duties!

Blend in and create flow
An outdoor space works best when it feels like an extension of your home, rather than an isolated area, so try and create an easy flow between the two spaces. Consider what colour palettes and finishes you already have in the interior, which could blend well outdoors to tie the two spaces together.

Deepened healing is a huge behavioural trend which I have spoken about at length in the first edition of my report, ‘Behind the Design’. This conscious inclusive design essentially looks at the desire for humans to always want to be connected to nature and is therefore central to the outdoor living space.

At its core is the reflective need to heal, restore and move towards sustainable design. It focuses on balance between yin and yang and masculinity and femininity, to ensure that the space feels grounded and esoteric but also facilitates a natural way for people to connect in that space. Consider what elements you can add to foster the calming feel of nature.

Be weatherwise with accessories
Having enough seating and shelter from the elements is crucial in any outdoor space – as the weather is rarely reliable. The aim of an outdoor space is to keep the area feeling spacious and light so don’t put too much in. Transparent ghost or polycarb chairs in different colours are a great practical outdoor solution and can be changed out very easily from season to season. Chair Crazy have some great products from Spain and Turkey that can handle the strong South African sun well.

Colour wise, you want something that is soothing to the soul, relaxing and easy on the eye but with a pop of colour to add some excitement and interest. Consider contrasting textured fabrics in plain colours on large sofas with bolder shades and patterned prints on individual chairs and cushions. It is essential that you select proper outdoor fabrics with a good ultraviolet makeup. Hertex, Home Fabrics and Eshanima Fabrics have a huge array of options.

From a décor perspective, this is where you can properly express elements of deepened healing. Consider adding repurposed or repaired items of furniture, previously loved design pieces in soft curves and shapes, and invoking pieces of artwork.

For more tips from Kim Williams, sign-up for her blog at or follow her on Facebook and Instagram @kim_williams_design.

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