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How to Design the Cosiest Outdoor Space

Create an outside area so inviting, you just won’t want to go back inside

Houzz Contributor. I’m a London-based journalist with years of experience writing… More

The Danish concept of hygge, which can be defined as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality’, is moving from interiors to our outside spaces. So if you want to enjoy some downtime in the fresh air, here are a few tips for making your space a super-snuggly haven.

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Zone off a space
Start by thinking about your seating arrangement and use your garden furniture to create an intimate and sociable area. Built-in, U-shaped bench seating like this is ideal. The owners of this garden have also angled the sides of their raised plant beds to create integrated seatbacks you can lean against – genius.

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Add a ‘ceiling’
Feeling cosy is often about creating a sense of being contained, so why not add a ‘ceiling’ to your garden’s seating zone? Here, a wooden pergola helps turn a seating area into somewhere you’ll want to sit for hours. You can buy wooden pergolas off the peg or have something built bespoke. Plants that will happily twist around pergolas to create a leafy canopy include clematis, jasmine, wisteria and climbing roses.

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Utilise a corner
Think your compact or awkwardly shaped garden doesn’t lend itself to creating a mini retreat? Think again. The humblest of corners can become a snug hideout with a little imagination. Creating your retreat next to two adjacent walls or fences, for instance, will make you feel tucked out of sight and ready for some precious me-time.

In this garden, a daybed was rustled up by putting two benches together and adding a large cushion as a comfortable base. Look out for large, flat outdoor cushions in sales and online. These don’t necessarily have to fit seats exactly, the key thing is they make you feel comfortable.

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Get on the bench
You can even turn a single garden bench into an inviting spot, where you can stretch out with a cup of tea, simply by piling it up with some garden cushions. If you have a nook to tuck it under so you can enjoy it come rain or shine, so much the better.

Painting a bench an ice-cream shade, such as this pastel pink, is another way to up the charm factor. Always choose a paint that’s suitable for outdoor furniture.

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Forget the furniture
As the last point proves, you don’t actually need lots of furniture to create a cosy chill-out zone. And the owners of this roof terrace have made a snug retreat simply by scattering around some floor cushions and pillows. A low coffee table provides a central surface for drinks and snacks.

See some of the dreamiest outdoor dining spots on Houzz

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Create your own furniture
Love the idea of a cosy garden sofa, but don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on it? Try recycling old wooden pallets like they’ve done here. You can buy pallets for only a couple of pounds each on eBay, or ask local warehouses and businesses if they have any going spare. Follow one of the many online tutorials and remember to remove any jutting-out nails, then sand, seal, varnish or paint as required. Source cushions to fit, or consider making your own DIY versions by stapling or sewing fabric around cut-to-fit foam squares.

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Splurge on a sofa
If you do have the budget, an outdoor sofa could be the best purchase you’ve ever made – offering all the delicious comfort of an indoor sofa, but in your garden. This sofa has removable cushions that can be taken off in a jiffy when there’s a downpour.

Natural rattan furniture will need to be protected against the elements, but you should be able to leave good-quality synthetic rattan furniture out, especially if you have over-winter covers.

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Book a table
Getting cosy outside is also all about keeping your creature comforts on hand, so include a low coffee table for the magazines or books you want to read. A table like this is also perfect for serving afternoon tea or cool glasses of pink lemonade. And putting up a shelf on a brick wall is a great way to style up a corner with objects you love.

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Stay cosy after hours
Blankets will do the job, but why not consider investing in a fire pit? Not only will it keep everyone warm on a cool summer evening – but it’s perfect for toasting marshmallows, too. There are many different types to choose from, and it’s worth considering whether you just want it to keep you warm or if you want it to act as a barbecue too.

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Light up
Some things exist purely because they look magical and make you feel happy – and fairy lights and tealight lanterns definitely fall into this category. They help turn a simple glass of wine in the garden as the day ends into an event, and quite simply cheer your soul. There are lots of pretty solar lights and battery-powered versions around these days, too, meaning there’s no need to worry about the electrics. Hang multiple strings for a party atmosphere.

All you need to know about outdoor lighting

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Install a truly magical light
The atmosphere a pendant light like this creates means the night will go on and on. You can buy special outdoor chandeliers that are resistant to the elements, so take a look at what might work for you. They can be expensive, but the magical effect could be well worth it.

How to squeeze in a garden table

How have you made your garden cosy? Share your ideas and photos in the Comments below.
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