• Nicola Cummins

Create your perfect outdoor summer space



Summer has finally arrived in Sheffield! The sunny days and long warm evenings always get me thinking of the best ways to enjoy our outdoor summer spaces. Whether you would like to have the perfect place for hosting a summer BBQ, a serene setting to curl up in with a good book or a beautiful area to enjoy with the whole family, today we are sharing a number of tips and tricks to help you achieve the outdoor summer space you’ve always wanted. I am no gardening expert, no matter how many episodes of Gardener’s World I watch my skills with plants still leave a lot to be desired - however, I do believe that with a good dose of enthusiasm any outdoor space can be turned into a great space.



Planning and Preparation:

As with any indoor design project, I find that taking the time to plan how the space will be used always makes the biggest difference. Before you start thinking about sourcing and shopping, take a minute to brainstorm how you would like your outdoor summer space to function. Will it be used for alfresco dining and evening drinks? As a space to relax and spend time with family? Will the space be used by young children or pets? Practical considerations such as these can often feel a little dull, but I really recommend giving them some thought before jumping into the fun stuff such as the decoration.



Where would be a nice place to sit in your outdoor space? Think about the nicest views for the position of your seating, as well as locating which areas get the best sunlight or shade depending on your preference. Note the most sheltered areas so that you won’t be in a cold, exposed space. Planning will really help to make the best use of whatever outdoor space you may be lucky enough to have – ensuring it is used to the best of its ability!


If this is all sounding a little bit daunting, we are here to help! Whether you need assistance with creating the perfect interior or exterior space, identifying your personal style preferences or are just in need of a little inspiration, check out our social media and website pages. Our Instagram @nicola_c_interiors is the perfect place for having a quick scroll, and who knows, you may just find an image to spark your imagination for your next design project!




Taking the Inside Out:

Once you have done the groundwork, you can then progress to what I always think of as the most exciting part of any redesign – the colours, textures and sourcing! Connecting the décor scheme of your interior to your exterior space will really help link the two spaces, inviting you outside as a continuation of the home you already love. Think about elements from inside your home which bring you joy, for example a particular colour or colour combination, pattern or texture and then consider how you could implement this in the outdoor scheme. Creating a carbon copy of a room which you love inside your home may, however, be a little repetitive so try and break it down to the specifics of what it is that you really like in the interior scheme before carrying that design emphasis into the outdoor space.


A great way to link your interior to your exterior is through flooring. Choosing a flooring option which can be carried through from the inside of your home to the outside space you are creating will connect the two spaces, encouraging you to walk out into your new area. Tiles make a wonderful choice for this and there are some stunning designs out there which are appropriate for outdoor as well as indoor use. Why not take a look at The Yorkshire Tile Company, a Sheffield-based, family-run company who offer an amazing selection of tiles which would be perfect for this application. Find out more about YTC here


If you would like your outdoor summer space to be a place to relax, consider adding soft seating, cushions, poufs and rugs to create a cosy, inviting environment to curl up in during the day or late into the night. If you would like to create a space for dining and hosting dinner parties, a little outdoor kitchen is an impressive luxury which can be constructed in an economic way by using reclaimed bricks and slate (either ones which you already have lying around or sourced second hand online).


Create A Canopy:


To instil a more intimate feel for your exterior design, adding an overhead structure can transform an open, exposed space into one that feels sheltered and relaxing. A textile canopy can be a great way to create this atmosphere in a very impermanent way, as the fabric can be put up or taken down quickly and easily whenever you wish to use your outdoor summer space. Alternatively, for a more permanent option, a pergola can form a wonderful structure from which to hang lights or lanterns and grow a living canopy of fragrant plants to really enhance the experience of being in your exterior space. Climbing plants such as jasmine, roses or clematis are the perfect choices for scrambling up any structure, wall or trellis which happens to be near the area you have chosen to transform into the perfect outdoor summer space – be sure to check out your local garden centre’s selection of climbers!


Make A Mood with Lights:

Lighting can really help to create the right mood for your outdoor summer space, allowing you to continue to use the area even after the sun has set. Lighting can be used to highlight structural elements that already exist in your garden such as paths, providing focal points of interest as well as serving a functional purpose.


If you are considering installing more permanent lights such as these, be sure to research the environmental impact of the style of light you choose, for example, downlights which are directed down towards the ground are much less disruptive to wildlife than ones which are directed upwards. You could also think about installing integrated outdoor lighting on a timer which can be operated from inside the house for a hassle-free way of creating the perfect outdoor atmosphere at the flick of a switch.

However, if this all sounds too much do not worry – an equally stunning space can be generated through the use of fairy lights, lanterns and candles which are much easier to install. Dotting flickering lights such as these around your space instantly makes it enchanting. Lighting bug repellent candles whilst you are using your outdoor summer space is also a great way to keep pesky insects at bay!


Soothe All The Senses:

Considering all of the senses when designing your outdoor space is a wonderful way to ensure it ticks all the boxes of how you want to feel when using it. Adding a fire pit or electricity point for an electric heater alongside a good selection of cosy blankets will keep everyone warm, enabling you to stay outside and enjoy your new space for as long as you like.

Scents from candles or plants such as florals or herbs enhances any exterior area. Herbs will perfectly accompany a space designed for cooking and dining by adding a fresh scent, whereas whilst strong floral plants may overwhelm a dining experience, they will certainly add to an area allocated for relaxation and socialisation.


Sound can often be overlooked when designing an exterior scheme, however, if carefully considered it really can be the icing on the cake! The soothing sound of water can really encourage a sense of tranquillity and relaxation. Or perhaps if the area is to be used by a music lover, radio or audiobook fanatic a place for a speaker would be an excellent design detail.


As for taste, I’m afraid the chef will have to be trusted with that!


If you'd like to find out more about creating your perfect summer space, or for any space in your home do register your interest here as I'll be taking on new client projects from January 2023!


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