Feature

DESIGN INSPIRATION: 5 OUTDOOR PRODUCTS WE LOVE

Are you forever looking for great design to fill your home? From beautiful building materials to handmade accessories that finish a space, we are also on a continual quest to unearth new, interesting and sustainable products. This year we found quite a few amazing things that we cannot wait to use, and we wanted to share them with you too! Here are some of our favourite outdoor products that have popped up on our radar recently.

1. Nood Co concrete products

If there is one material that will never go out of style in outdoor spaces, it’s concrete. So we were very excited to discover this Australian company doing amazing things with this humble and hardworking material. Nood Co has found the balance between durability and aesthetics, and we can’t wait to try out these chevron tiles as a wall or floor feature. Their concrete sinks are also ideal for outdoor kitchens.

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2. Glowpear planters

Want to grow your own herbs but don’t have a garden? We don’t think that’s too much to ask (that’s why we are called The Small Garden, after all) – so let us draw your attention to these Glowpear planters, which are perfect for small spaces like courtyards, balconies and empty walls. They have a clever self-watering feature that allows your edibles to absorb water when they need it, so you don’t need to fret about over or under-watering.

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3. Inartisan Priya Square Floor Cushion

It’s the finishing touches that make a space special, and these cushions are just that. Inartisan’s Priya cushions are handwoven using water hyacinth, and the natural fibre complements natural colours and forms. We love these cushions so much that we recently purchased some for our own garden.

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4. Byron Bay Hanging Chairs rattan folding chairs

The season for spending time outside is upon us, and these rattan chairs from Byron Bay Hanging Chairs will take you from your own small space garden to the park, beach and beyond. The rattan adds texture, and the design is ideal for propping up beside a small-space plunge pool or setting up on a small balcony while reading a book

5. Gather Co Indigenus planter collection

It is no secret that we take planter design seriously (so much so, we often have our planters custom made) – and this collection is one that will bring character to any outdoor space. The Indigenus collection of planters by Gather Co has been created in collaboration with designers and architects from South Africa. Handmade from sustainable materials, each sculptural planter celebrates slow design. Influences throughout the collection range from mid-century design to the form of tuber plants.

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These are just some of the wares we have stumbled across during the year! From all-in-one designs made in Belgium to plant tiles, we share more of our favourite finds on social media. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see more – and if you try one of these products at home, tag us in the results: @thesmallgarden.

Happy shopping, designing and decorating!

FIVE EASY WAYS TO SPEND MORE TIME OUTSIDE

Spending time outside doesn’t always mean going for a bushwalk or planning to meet friends at the park. As great as these things are, they aren’t always achievable on a regular basis. But what is possible is snatching a few minutes to potter in the garden, read in the sun or cook on the barbecue. If you’re ready to spend more time outside, take a look at your daily habits and you might be surprised where you can find pockets of time to escape to your outdoor space.

There is a reason why we often crave time outdoors, and that’s because it’s good for us. Fresh air, sunshine and the presence of plant life calm the mind and have also been linked to improved memory retention, creativity and general wellbeing.

Even if your calendar doesn’t allow for long stretches of time outside, these simple hacks will lure you outdoors more often and create more balance in your lifestyle.

 Butterfly House by  Surfacedesign , Inc. Photography by Marion Brenner.

Butterfly House by Surfacedesign, Inc. Photography by Marion Brenner.

1. Use your outdoor space for the things you love

If you have an outdoor space at home but don’t feel compelled to use it, you’ll inevitably end up spending your leisure time indoors. If you love entertaining, then it makes sense to create an outdoor area where you can socialise with friends. Or if you’re a cook and don’t have space for an outdoor kitchen, even growing a few herbs will create a meaningful connection with your space.

Activities you can use your balcony, courtyard or garden for include:

  • Cooking

  • Gardening

  • Reading and relaxing

  • Children’s play

  • Entertaining

  • Creative hobbies

Decide how your outdoor space can enrich your lifestyle and make some changes accordingly. If, for example, you want a place to read and relax, you’ll likely get more enjoyment from the space if it’s furnished with an outdoor lounge rather than a dining setting.

Even the inclusion of something as simple as a side table to sit your morning coffee on can make your outdoor space better suited to your lifestyle.

Related: Entertaining in a small outdoor space

2. Rethink your daily habits

 This open window seat creates a natural indoor/outdoor connection. Image via  Homes to Love . Photography by Maree Homer.

This open window seat creates a natural indoor/outdoor connection. Image via Homes to Love. Photography by Maree Homer.

If you only use your outdoor space when guests come to visit, you aren’t alone. Most people don’t think to go outside during the week. Life gets busy and it feels easier to eat dinner on the couch while catching up on Netflix.

But there may be other pockets of the day that you could be spending outside. We recently started having breakfast outside in our new outdoor area. It’s nice and cool at this time of morning and the simple ritual sets a lovely tone for the day.

From chatting on the phone to checking emails and stretching in the morning, there are a lot of ways to take your daily life outside. In fact, for activities such as emails and work, studies have shown that concentration can improve in a natural setting.

3. Address any privacy issues

When you feel like the neighbours have a prime view of your living space, it’s only natural to want to stay away from prying eyes. Privacy issues are a common concern for people with balconies and courtyards in built-up areas.

You can create more privacy by:

  • Creating a vertical garden to muffle noise

  • Using screening plants such as hedges and bamboo

  • Installing permanent structures such as sliding screens, shutters or a shade canopy

When you feel more comfortable in your outdoor space, you’ll start to enjoy spending time outside again.

4. Fight back against the elements

Like privacy, the elements are another reason why you might choose to avoid spending time in your outdoor space. Too much sun, not enough light at night and wind are the main issues we see time and time again.

If there is a specific reason why you aren’t spending as much time outside as you’d like, look at your space to determine why. Let’s say you want to use the space for entertaining but it doesn’t have adequate lighting. By identifying this issue and addressing it, you can start using the area when and how it suits you.

Factors such as wind and sun protection are especially important considerations on rooftops and balconies, as these types of spaces are more exposed to the elements. Incorporating awnings, pergolas and wind barriers in these spaces will ensure you don’t let your precious outdoor space go to waste.

5. Create a connection between indoor and outdoor spaces

 Spark Modern Fire  Image via  dwell . Photography by Coral von Zumwalt.

Spark Modern Fire

Image via dwell. Photography by Coral von Zumwalt.

If you’ve ever tried to make changes in your lifestyle, you’ll understand the importance of visual cues. If you want to start exercising regularly, for example, then having your exercise gear out and within eyeshot every morning is one of the most effective ways to stick to the new habit.

The same goes for getting outside and enjoying your outdoor space. If there’s a natural connection between your indoor and outdoor areas, you’re far more likely to make use of your garden, courtyard or balcony.

Ways to achieve this include:

  • Using the same or similar materials across indoor and outdoor spaces for continuity

  • Linking indoor and outdoor spaces with large windows and glass doors

  • Positioning plants so they’re visible from indoor spaces

  • Bringing nature inside with an internal courtyard

We recently renovated our home and garden, and as a result we’ve been spending so much more time outside. In fact, we now look for opportunities to head outside. Here’s a preview of our new garden.

For more, download your free ebook, Small Spaces, Big Ideas. It’s got all our favourite design and planting tips to get you inspired.









INSIDE OUT: HOW TO DESIGN AN INTERNAL COURTYARD

We would all like to spend more time in the natural world, yet modern life leaves us with precious few hours for leisure. So what’s the solution? With internal courtyards providing a constant backdrop of nature inside the home, it is easy to see why they’re rising in popularity.

Internal courtyards have a very contemporary appeal. But the idea of them is not new (outside of Australia, that is). In Mexico, haciendas are built with colourful courtyards for gathering and preparing food. While in Japan, the addition of nature into a living space creates the feeling of tranquility synonymous with Japanese culture.

So why are we only now embracing this concept in Australia? Where the quarter-acre block once gave us an abundance of outdoor space, the reality of contemporary living has changed drastically. Not only is an internal courtyard a practical alternative to the quintessential Aussie backyard, it also offers a number of practical advantages in terms of your home’s energy consumption and liveability.

It’s for all of these reasons that we’ve been championing internal courtyards for some years now. And now as the internal courtyards we are working on start to take shape (we can’t wait to share them when they’re complete), we wanted to share the lessons we have learned along the way.

Here are the key considerations to bear in mind when planning and designing an internal courtyard.

1. Decide how you want to use the space

It’s often the case that the spaces in the centre of the home are also the darkest. As a result, they’re not as enjoyable to spend time in, and that’s one of the big drawcards of internal courtyards – they bring light, fresh air and plant life into the heart of the home.

Depending on how much space you have, you may design a small courtyard simply for this purpose. This natural focal point is a calming antidote to the outside world – a simple luxury that now eludes many city-dwellers. The number of benefits associated with this style of design (known as biophilic design) is growing as more research is conducted on the connection between people and the natural world.

In larger homes, a central courtyard becomes an extension of the living space – a place for entertaining, relaxing and secure play for children. Decide early on how you want to use the space, and plan accordingly (more on that below).

2. Create spaces of discovery

Whether your internal courtyard is a functional living area or a small-scale garden such as these, think of it as a space for discovery.

The planting schemes in these gardens not only work in their respective environments, they also engage the senses. Contrasting height, colour and texture among the plants, stones and interior holds attention, creating scenes ready for visual exploration.

Visual discovery can take many forms. In the case of the Japanese-style garden pictured at the top of this article, for example, the addition of water exerts a calming presence and draws the eye further in to the space.

3. Planning halves doing

This piece of wisdom is vital when it comes to internal courtyards. These spaces breathe life into the home, and proper planning will mean you gain the full benefits of natural light and ventilation, while also having adequate screening from these things too.

Additional considerations that need to be made with internal courtyards include:

  • Growing conditions

  • Installation of plants and built structures

  • Drainage and watering systems

  • Shade, where necessary

  • Plant selection

When these spaces and factors are considered at an early stage of a build or renovation, we can integrate them naturally into the home with your contractors. This makes their installation a far smoother and more cost-effective process, and your plants will be happier for the planning you put into their environment!

In terms of selecting the right plants, ensure they will not outgrow the space and that there’s enough light, soil and drainage for them to thrive.

Keep reading: A guide to courtyard design


FIRST LOOK AT OUR GARDEN RENOVATION

Do you ever stare at your outdoor space and see potential? Maybe a pool area or a lush place to lounge? When we meet with clients, we completely understand what that feels like – because we have been there too. 

For the last few years we have had big plans for our garden, and for our home too. We looked outside and saw so much potential. Few spaces are as versatile as an outdoor area, and we know from our work with clients that few spaces enrich your lifestyle as much as a well-designed garden does. So you can imagine how excited we were to finally bring our backyard-in-waiting to life. 

Over the last 12 months, we made it all happen in a year of design and transformation (with a few moments of chaos). Transforming our Queenslander cottage and backyard at the same time was a big project to undertake with a family and a business. If you have noticed we have been a bit quiet on the blog, that’s why! 

Standing at the finish line, we can guarantee it was all worth it. The late nights saving inspiration on Pinterest, the hours spent searching for paint colours, tiles and fixtures, and the time living away from our home. It has all come together better than we imagined. 

You can plan every detail of how a home will look and function, but there are no words to describe how it felt when we moved back into a space that was created just for us. Now as spring rolls in to Brisbane, we can see our garden really starting to grow in and we are spending more time outdoors in our new backyard. 

As the garden takes shape over the coming months, we will share more of the project, but here is your first look at some of our favourite details – and the tips we want to pass on. 

The key focal point is this set of Indian doors. We have spent a lot of time in India, so this feature really resonates with us and brings back many happy memories. 

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DESIGN TIP: When looking for ways to inject your personality into your space, think of places that are meaningful to you, and incorporate elements of them into the design. This could be a cottage garden you played in as a child, or a tropical resort where the bar staff have your cocktail order committed to memory. 

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The other key addition is a pool! Given that we’ve got young children, this space will be an important place for our family to come together and unwind on hot summer days. Even in winter we have found the presence of water to be a calming backdrop to our daily lives. 

Around the pool, we have planted hardy succulents and cactus that will be easy for us to look after. We may have green thumbs, but we’re also short on time! Especially now that we have the upkeep of a pool, it was important for us to create a garden that was low maintenance. 

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DESIGN TIP: When planning a new outdoor area, be realistic about how much time to have to commit to its upkeep. There is a massive selection of low maintenance plants that you can use to create a green oasis. 

The entertaining area brings it all together. Adding a pool to the garden did take up a large portion of the yard, but by using in-built bench seating we were able to maximise our entertaining space.  

So what’s next?

As promised, we will be showing you more from our renovation over the coming months. 

We will also be sharing monthly design and landscaping tips that you can use in your space, plus shots from the outdoor spaces we have been revamping. (Sign up for these updates below or download your free ebook Small Spaces, Big Ideas to ensure you don’t miss out!). 

But first, these are the design trends we have been working with. 

Outdoor design trends

There is so much happening in the design world right now – and a lot of the emerging ideas and styles are so well suited to Brisbane’s outdoor style of living. 

In particular, we are seeing natural materials making a big comeback in both architecture and design. Think jute rugs, natural stone, earthy mustard/terracotta/olive colour palettes and unstructured bohemian styling. That means there has never been a more exciting time to create a home where the interiors and the outdoors are all integrated. 

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When you think of areas such as balconies and courtyards as outdoor rooms, it becomes so apparent how your outdoor space can become an extension of your internal living areas. By choosing to work with natural materials throughout your home, the connection between your indoor and outdoor living spaces happens intuitively. 

We are also seeing a lot more small garden areas within homes; ranging from internal courtyards to small features like this Japanese garden we loved bringing to life. 

Five things we’re loving:

  • Experimenting with jewel colour palettes 
  • The return of rattan and wicker furniture
  • Integrating terrazzo tiles into outdoor spaces
  • Collaborating on exciting design projects, including internal courtyards (we’ll be sharing these spaces as they’re completed)
  • Embracing slow living, now that we’ve settled back into our hom
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KEEP READING:

The top ten indoor plants

Seven gardens that showcase why landscaping shouldn’t be afterthought

PS – Don’t forget about your free ebook, Small Spaces, Big Ideas. It’s got 45 pages of outdoor design ideas to get your inspired. 

 

 

YOUR COMPLETE WINTER GARDENING GUIDE

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” They’re the words of travel writer Paul Theroux, but any gardener will be able to relate to them. Now is the ideal time to take stock of your garden, prepare for spring and enjoy working outdoors while there’s still a refreshing chill in the air.

  Image via  Style Estate .

Image via Style Estate.

Even if your plants have become dormant this winter, there’s plenty you can be doing to make your outdoor area a more pleasant space to spend time in both the cooler and warmer months. When it comes to winter gardening, there are three ways to ensure you aren’t neglecting your outdoor space:

  1. Cosy up outdoor areas
  2. Give your space some TLC
  3. Prepare for spring and summer

Be inspired to get outside, even when it’s cold, with this guide.

Cosy up outdoor areas

  Use cushions, lighting and blankets to make an outdoor space more comfortable in winter. Image via  Blackbird .

Use cushions, lighting and blankets to make an outdoor space more comfortable in winter. Image via Blackbird.

If you haven’t spent a lot of time outdoors this winter, the top priority on your winter gardening list should be making your outdoor area cosier. There are a number of simple ways to warm up your outdoor space:

  • Add outdoor cushions and blankets to your furnishings
  • Move your seating to an area with more sunlight
  • Create warmth with the addition of a fire-pit, free-standing electric heater or built-in fireplace
  • Use extra lighting to create ambience and a feeling of warmth – consider string lights, lanterns and candles
  • Install shelter structures that will protect your space from wind (vergolas are a great solution, as they allow sun in during winter and provide shade in summer)

When creating an outdoor space, many people do most of the planning with just summer in mind. However, we recommend thinking about ways to season-proof your garden so you can enjoy it year-round.

Ways to do this include using retractable structures and deciduous shade covers that will keep you cool in summer and let sunlight through in winter, and putting heavy planters on wheels so you can easily move them as the seasons change.

Give your space some TLC

  When planning a built-in fireplace, think about where you will store your firewood too. Image via  Gardenista .

When planning a built-in fireplace, think about where you will store your firewood too. Image via Gardenista.

Nothing is more satisfying than spending a day getting outdoor jobs done – and winter is the perfect season for this, as it’s far more pleasant to get on top of those physically taxing jobs when the weather is cooler.

Things to get done in winter include:

  • Repot container plants
  • Transplant established plants and shrubs while they are dormant
  • Mulch your plants (this helps them retain warmth in winter)
  • Prune roses, frangipani, summer-flowering shrubs and tropical plants
  • Tackle larger landscaping jobs like paving, painting, general repairs, decking maintenance, installing outdoor art, fireplaces and water features, etc.

When it comes to planting, the warm climate in South-east Queensland means there is still a lot you can grow during the cool months. Edibles including silverbeet, cabbage, kale, carrots, lettuce, radish, peas and most herbs will continue to grow.

You can also get ready for the warmer months by planting spring vegetable seeds in pots and placing them in a warm protected area. Tomato, eggplant and capsicums are good plants to get started now.

If you want colour in your outdoor area, try camellias and azaleas for flowering at the start of winter. Gardenia, bottlebrush, may bush and jasmine will begin to flower in late winter and throughout spring.

Prepare for spring and summer

  Dreaming of summer already? Get ready for the warm months by designing your summer oasis in winter. Image via  HGTV .

Dreaming of summer already? Get ready for the warm months by designing your summer oasis in winter. Image via HGTV.

Spring/summer is prime time for relaxing outside, so it makes sense to do larger landscaping projects before the weather starts to warm up.

When planning design and landscaping for your space, we recommend starting with Pinterest as a source of inspiration. You should also consult with your local nursery on plants that will grow well in your area. If you require professional assistance with your landscaping, now is also the time to book this in before the spring/summer rush begins.

For design ideas, see these seven gardens that showcase why landscaping shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Winter reading: Small Spaces, Big Ideas – our complete guide to garden design. Download your free ebook now!