Avoid these common pitfalls when creating your outdoor space

When creating your outdoor living space, it’s tempting to be led with what visually looks luxuriously enticing on your Instagram feed or Pinterest photo you’ve discovered. The reality of living with that set-up (which has, inevitably, been styled for the photo), might not suit your day-to-day enjoyment.

Here are 11 common pitfalls for you to consider before jumping in:

1. Dedicated follower of fashion
We all do it, buy the latest look and love it for a while but it dates as the market constantly changes the goal posts of what is trendy and what is so yesterday to encourage you to buy again.

When dressing your outdoor space, go with timeless options.

You can inject your inner trendsetter on smaller items such as scatter cushions and accessories that can be inexpensively swapped out to show you are moving with the times.

2. The complete package
Furniture that comes as a package can sometimes seem easier, especially if the pricing appears to get you more value. However, buying a setting can look very safe and a little underwhelming.

Be confident by mixing designs and brands, even if it is an armchair in a different style or coffee table in a totally different material, combining wickers with timber, concrete and fully upholstered pieces makes for an interesting and enticing outdoor retreat.

3. Pipe down
Piped cushions can look very dated and age the furniture’s overall look. This ‘old-fashioned’ decoration gathers dirt and food, creating a breeding spot for mould. It is difficult to remove the discolouration from dust and muck without scrubbing so frequent cleaning will be necessary.

Opt for seamless cushions on your furniture; it injects a more contemporary feel and minimises the dirty look.

4. Water features
They look great and the idea sounds appealing, however, if you don’t choose carefully, the constant running of water will sound more like a broken toilet cistern which isn’t relaxing at all!

If you would like to incorporate water into your outdoor living zone, go for a trough or waterproof pot with pond pumps, pebbles and lighting. The reflections created from this combination are stunning against the wall at night and the bubbling is a tranquil alternative.

5. Playing with fire
Personally, we love a fire outdoors; it is hypnotic to watch, warms you through and a great spot to be a kid and toast your own marshmallows. We’re not suggesting you don’t have one – do have one – but don’t make it your centrepiece. An unlit fire looks messy, they require a fair bit of cleaning post blaze and your furniture will get covered with the soot and smell.

Swap in and out with your coffee table for those occasions when you are after an enchanting get together and leave it out of sight when not in use.

6. Glasseyed
The outdoors is naturally more susceptible to dust and grime. Glass is your enemy when trying to keep your outdoor living space clean. Streaks glisten and water rings are like beacons. Concerningly, outdoor tempered glass is prone to chipping or even smashing if knocked on the side, a dangerous problem you don’t ever want to experience.

Consider timber or concrete tables instead. They are a fabulous way to break up wicker furniture and create a beautiful blend of materials.

Ottomans and wicker coffee tables (without glass) keep the areas feeling soft and natural. Trays, teak platters and coasters eliminate the concern for an uneven surface and are a great solution for resting your drink, displaying food, and you won’t get told off for putting your feet up on the table.

7. Low, low, low
Outdoor furniture tends to be made lower than standard furniture to minimise the modules blocking desired views. This is desirable visually but practically it makes it uncomfortable to get in and out of. For ladies, it can also be a little more revealing than we would like.

Not all designs are made low to the ground and 5cm will really not make that much difference in obscuring your outlook, so don’t compromise on this. Remember your older family members, consider the dignified entrance/exit plan and choose the adult seating, not a kindergarten option.

8. The L word
Modular L shape settings are extremely common and have been marketed to us for many years. It is a little tiring in style and limiting when you have guests – not wishing to sound like a scene from a particular movie but nobody wants to be put in the corner!

L shapes also tend to feel a little awkward when entertaining as you are not facing each other and, in many cases, slightly squashed together.

Most often that corner is, in fact, the prime seat to look out at the views so celebrate that spot with seating configurations such as facing sofas or a lounge with armchair combination.

9. Throw everything out
Don’t feel the pressure to replace everything with new or dispose of items that are functionally sound if they still have a bit of character or style to them. Keeping one item, whether it is an old dining table or ‘in the family’ rocking chair can actually create a great feature piece that adds character and layering to the room. Cleaned up and blended with new dining chairs, or new cushions custom-made to pair up with your new furniture can work really well – and save you money!

10. Pretty but not practical
Putting my practical pants on, we all love beautiful things and light fabrics look fresh and luxurious, however, your outdoor retreat is for everyone to enjoy, not be reprimanded for putting feet up or creating ‘no food’ rules when sitting on the lounges.

Think realistically how the space is going to be used and consider family members – including pets (who will think you’ve done a fabulous job with their new bed!). Make sure the furniture is super durable and sturdy so it can easily take the knocks and spills without you needing the paper bag to breathe in to.

11. Holding it together
Another classic characteristic of modular outdoor furniture is, it moves! It’s frustrating and can mark your floors. Some designs have small clips under the furniture. It may seem like a great idea but the issue with this mechanism is twofold.

Firstly, they are near impossible to reach when you need to unclip the furniture and move it to clean the area.

Secondly, they break easily, so the system becomes redundant. Osier Belle has a great solution that is very strong, hidden and easy to remove – it’s our secret so do come and check out what it is!

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