As nature becomes an ever more integral part of home design, there's an increasingly fine line between interior and exterior spaces. If you're fortunate enough to live in a climate that entices you to spend time in the fresh air, building an outdoor lounge can transform your garden space into an open-air living room. A report conducted by MSN on residential landscaping over the past year found that almost half of all companies surveyed noted a rise in upscale landscaping, with homeowners investing in decks, patios and more extravagant additions.
The key consideration in creating an outdoor lounge must be comfort. Envisage the kind of surroundings that would tempt you to spend all day lounging in the sun, then build your plans around that image. Keep practicalities firmly in mind while choosing materials; although pale-stone slabs may look effective against green grass, in some countries they can absorb too much heat during the day to walk on.
Focusing on sourcing local materials will ensure that your lounge blends sympathetically with its natural surroundings, but don't forget to indulge your senses. Planting soft, springy moss will cushion your bare feet, while birch trees have an attractive white bark that's smooth to the touch. Fragrant, colourful plants can further enhance your sense of relaxation and wellbeing. Try planting French lavender, which has beautiful lilac blooms when in flower, around a particular area. Pale pink magnolia shrubs, which have a lemony scent, can also be effective meditative aids.
Furnishing your lounge
Create a contemporary aesthetic with plush circular swing seats, liberally covered in cushions. They can be hung beneath existing trees, and their soft swaying motion will help you to unwind after a long day. For poolside lounging or more exposed sunny areas, try a snug upholstered lounge chair with a soft top, which you can roll down to provide shade when the heat becomes too intense.
The technological essentials of modern living have now become integral to outdoor lounges. Some LCD televisions, for example, have been designed to withstand dust and damage and have special glare-free screens. Another popular feature is an outdoor fireplace, often attached to the outer wall of the house. A log-burning fire with a stone mantel makes an effective focal point, and can keep your lounge usable throughout the changing seasons.
Several evolutionary steps ahead of the humble barbecue, outdoor kitchens turn your lounge into a fully-functional entertainment space. Outdoor pizza ovens are ideal for large family gatherings, cooking homemade pizzas with a unique, smoky taste. They can also be used to bake bread, or for slow-cooked dishes like tagine or kleftiko, a Greek garlicky lamb dish. An outdoor refrigerator and enamel, farmhouse-inspired sink will complete your garden's set-up.
For more formal meals outside, you'll need a hard-wearing dining table. Wrought metal will suggest a Parisian bistro aesthetic, while polished wood has a more rustic appeal. Add enough matching tables to seat all your family and friends, and you'll be perfectly prepared for al fresco dining whenever the weather permits.
If you are looking for a new home, complete with a welcoming outdoor lounge, contact Engel & Völkers. Our friendly agents have years of experience in directing clients towards their dream properties, and will happily assist you in your search at home or abroad.