With high summer in full swing, many of us are enjoying spending more time outdoors. Long summer evenings spent in parks and gardens, picnics in dappled shade or drinks by the waterside have us wondering how we can bring some of that summertime magic back into our homes.
Having begun her career as a garden designer working with renowned landscape gardener Arne Maynard, bringing the outdoors in, is a subject particularly close to our founder Nix’s heart. Her early training in garden design, she says, was extremely influential and continues to inform her design practice today.
“I very much think about a property as a whole, the garden and the interior together,” says Nix. “I analyse the way a garden flows into a house and how the house spills out into the garden. I think about views and movement in and out of the house, often moving parking and re-locating seating areas, so as to unlock a sight line or open up the flow.”
If you are lucky enough to have a patch of outdoor space – whether it be a garden, terrace, courtyard or balcony – blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors by bringing a selection of outdoor plants inside in pots or letting pieces of furniture you associate with inside spaces spill into the garden. This could involve placing an upholstered chair and table lamp in a greenhouse or potting shed or setting up a temporary breakfast station on a terrace.
In your home, Nix suggests analysing which rooms have the best views and what the best vantage points within those rooms are. “Ask yourself, can the furniture be arranged to maximise the opportunity to enjoy the view? Can the view be framed and accentuated by well-chosen colours and fabrics? For example, painting the window bars in a darker colour intensifies the view. Having a wide curtain pole, so that the curtains sit wide of the window will maximise the view.”
For those with access to outdoor space, make sure the furniture is arranged so that it is easy to spill in and out of the garden and that there is a focal point in the garden that draws your eye out. This could be a couple of chairs around a bistro table or a collection of urns. “The focal point shouldn’t be too close to the building,” advises Nix. “The idea is that it draws your eye out and encourages you to walk through the garden.”
Colour is key
In spaces that have a close relationship with the outdoors, choose colours that complement the garden such as blues, mauve tones, chocolate, dusty coral and muted pinks.
“Some degree of contrast is good,” says Nix. “Lots of green can be good if you want to make a space feel bigger – as the greens of the room and the garden will blur, letting both borrow space from the other. However, more drama is created by choosing a colour that has some degree of contrast. For example, a bruised plum colour or chocolate brown will frame the greens of a garden beautifully, making the view really pop.”
The choice of plants within an interior will be governed by how much light there is and whether there is heating or not. A plant that grows well in a greenhouse might not survive in a kitchen, for example. Bathrooms with natural light can be a great place for a plant because there is often moisture in the air, which many houseplants love. If light is limited, you can rotate plants around a room to give each a chance to have some time close to a window.
“Be brave. Big is good, bigger is better. More, more, more!” enthuses Nix. “Plants, like a lot of things, look best as a collection, in a group. However, don’t necessarily have lots of varieties, as that can feel chaotic. Rather, play with scale repeating up to three different varieties but at different sizes and at different heights.”
We’d love to hear how you’ve brought the outdoors into your home. Share your thoughts with us below or tag us into your posts on social media @nicolahardingandco