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The Room Outside – Designing for Garden Living

The Room Outside – Designing for Garden Living

Garden design by Leonie Cornelius

The Room Outside 

Creating a haven for family and friends

What better thing to start with creating space than the room outside? In the times we live in this idea has taken on a whole new meaning and outdoor living has never been more important than it is right now. We have never looked forward to spending time outside more than we do right now and what a perfect time to put a little thought into your outdoor living space. 

We are all familiar with the idea of creating a room outside but it’s hard to know where to start. There are many ways of creating garden living spaces but the easiest way to start is to explore what you see yourself doing in the garden. Do you want to have dinner parties? Are you hoping to lounge with friends on late summer evenings by a fire? Look at what your ideal scenario is and the things that will make you feel happy and joyful. In fact – that’s what you should start with. Your happy space! Then everything else can follow this plan for joy.

Design by Leonie Cornelius wild ėden with modular seating collaboration with artist Sara O’Neill-photo by Colin Gillen/

Adaptable and forgiving design 

What has come to the forefront right now is that we are in a time when the boundaries are ever shifting so our garden spaces also need to be somewhat adaptable. This is good news in one way because spaces can become more multi-functional. For now hold back on solid, built-in seating areas and consider spaces to be an open plan space for what they need to be at different times. 

Chairs and lounger sets can be moved, boundaries expanded and patio dining tables rearranged to suit our daily needs- whether direct family or for socially distanced meet ups with friends. In this way gardens can be so much more versatile and usable and can adapt to our current needs. It is also a very forgiving way to get started and much less daunting. Give yourself the freedom to choose the things that make you feel good and don’t worry so much about making perfect design decisions. 

Image of Patthana Garden in Wicklow by TJ Maher

A change in perspective

There is something so gorgeous about exploring space and finding areas to enjoy which give a different perspective of your garden and home. Creating unexpected bubbles of space gives you a totally different appreciation and view point of your home and garden. How about hanging some hammocks in the shady corner? Or some lounger seats in a spot away from the home that gets evening sun? Or a gazebo at the end of the garden where you can relax.

Design by Leonie Cornelius wild ėden -photographed by Suzy McCanny

Usable space

Making the space functional and usable in all weathers and at all times is more important than ever. This means the garden becomes usable throughout all seasons and will open up a new possibility for meeting friends and for family living too. In our climate this means trying to take a part of the space and providing shelter from rain from above and also wind from the sides where possible. A simple pergola design can totally transform the usability of your outdoor room and an also be used to grow climbers, glazed or covered in polycarbonate or other sheeting. While glasshouses, gazebos and garden rooms are great adiditons for us and our direct families, when it comes to socialising in covid times pergolas are the perfect option because they are open to the sides and allow for a free flow of air while still providing cover. Check out our recommended products for some gorgeous inspiration.

Design by Leonie Cornelius wild ėden -photographed by Suzy McCanny

The new layout- creating more space for living

Space has become more important than ever for entertaining as we now need more space to socially distance. This has an impact on our design decisions going forwards and if you are planning a patio area be as generous as you can to allow for a multitude of layouts. Where before we might have chosen a patio area which homes a table and six chairs, now we need space enough to add extra seating and extend the space at times when we need it for entertaining. One thing is sure: be generous with patios and hardscape areas. If the patio size feels too large you could also add several smaller areas which can be adapted over time. Adaptable space also means an area can be a firepit area on day and a play area the next.

Designed by Danish designer Bodil Kjaer, the BK12 Lounge Sofa is part of the architecturally inspired Indoor-Outdoor Series for Carl Hansen -Available at

Feel good social Spacing in Covid times 

One of the biggest challenges right now, and one which has us all feeling somewhat uncomfortable is that there are no clear boundaries when it comes to gardens. When we can visit each other again a great idea is to gently create comfortable spaces where people don’t need to worry about staying apart form each other but where it naturally happens through thought out design ideas. This makes it so much easier to not feel like you’re missing out on that much needed hug too much. In this context consider several bubbles of seating all facing each other around a large patio space. If you space chairs around a central fire pit for example this becomes a gorgeous social circle which all focuses on a central feature and which feels naturally comfortable. If it’s a dinner party then consider a set of several similar or matching tables side by side, decorated in a continuous design, but slightly spaced making it easy to be together but slightly apart. 


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