Kirsty McLuckie: The outside is in

There has been a noticeable shift in the way we use our gardens in the last two years. It seems it is no longer enough to keep a couple of deckchairs in the shed waiting for the few days a year when it is warm enough to sit out.

Image: klyaksun/ Adobe
Image: klyaksun/ Adobe

The first Covid lockdown, in 2020, coincided with beautiful early spring weather and – as well as a run on toilet paper, sourdough starters and puppies – outdoor furniture leapt in price as the nation decided en masse to move to patio living.

Funds for the annual holiday abroad instead went on improving comfort in the garden, as we created outdoor rooms to make the most of the summer.

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It seems we liked the change, as the trend hasn’t gone away.

Reports suggest the UK might see temperatures higher than Spain in the coming weeks so if, like our household, you are somewhat behind the curve in upgrading the garden, now is the time to do it.

Garden furniture specialist Harbour Lifestyle reports that Pinterest has seen a 53 per cent increase in “outdoor living space” searches this month, and offers advice on the must-haves to consider if you want an enviable and on-trend design.

Eating al fresco is a popular pastime, but the simple picnic table has been upgraded, and the best dining sets are designer affairs in rattan, rivalling anything you have indoors.

Fire pits are the swish way to cook. The most impressive of these iron beasts feature all sorts of accoutrements, allowing you to prepare everything, from a traditional barbecue to a wood-fired pizza, a slow-cooked stew or a whole hog roast.

After dinner, you can pile up the logs creating a centre piece for socialising in the comforting warmth of the flames. Toasting marshmallows over a disposable foil tray just won’t cut it.

But, just as we have moved our kitchens and dining rooms outside, so the sitting room has followed suit.

Outdoor lounge sets are popular, with images of corner sofas, day beds, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and hanging seats drawing my eye as I imagine lazy days of lying in the sun with a cooling margarita.

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Outdoor rugs were apparently the big hit of last year, with almost 20,000 posts featuring them on Instagram, meaning you don’t even have to wear shoes in your new exterior space.

Dividing up gardens into “rooms” is a big trend, and a botanical-filled pergola can create a walkway from one to another as well as provide shelter. And lanterns in each area can create a relaxed atmosphere for sitting out long into the evening.

Wandering round garden centres over the Easter weekend, I considered all these options.

My longing for a designer terrace is real, although the budget I have set aside – pitifully small, I now realise – will not stretch to more than a few showerproof cushions at current prices.

Living in the West of Scotland, I also have to be realistic. While in other parts of the country householders may well be socialising in the sunshine, our guests would be more likely to be scuttling indoors when the midges or horizontal rain and gales attack.

Or so I will tell myself, from the comfort of my new deckchair.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman