Back in March I was asked for an interview by a journalist putting together a feature on domestic gardens for the Sainsbury’s Bank/Guardian co-hub. They wanted a glimpse of possible changes 10 years into the future, specifically how the way we use our gardens in the UK might change. I’d like to share that interview and our predictions with you here. If you are a UK Home Builder; Interior Designer; Garden Landscaper; Outdoor Product Retailer, Manufacturer or Designer the following insights are essential reading.
ABOVE: Grid modular outdoor teak furniture from Gloster
Q1. As we shift increasingly towards thinking of our gardens as an ‘extra room’, are there shifts in the way we might think about them as a space – more or less decorative, for instance?
Victoria: Over the next decade we forecast a strong shift towards using our gardens in the UK much more as multi-functional outdoor rooms. The trend for bringing the outside inside is well established, but for the future we advocate the concept of bringing the inside outside!
What will this mean? Well firstly it will mean really comfortable, quality furniture and accessories, more usually associated with living room and dining area styles, being incorporated into outdoor room schemes. And overall the look becomes more decorative, from lighting and outdoor rugs to stylish outdoor storage pieces akin to sideboards, it has a less temporary feel about it and a much more considered decorative style … the same level of decorative consideration we would give to our living rooms or bedrooms. Of course adaptable covered areas that allow us to stay outside when the inevitable UK rain comes will also need to be incorporated into designs (climate change in the UK could simply mean hotter, wetter weather). It’s about creating a sense of home in our gardens no matter where we live or how small the outdoor space is.
ABOVE: 1. Stylish Frame chaise longue from Paola Lenti with a braided rope fixed cover, deep seat pad & cushions. 2. Outdoor Blue Hydrangeas Pillow by London-based Etsy seller Amanda Jane Dalby. Amanda’s stunning photos are printed onto weather-resistant & fade-resistant polyester poplin fabric, which is then individually cut & sewn by hand to make the final double-sided cushions. They are such a clever and simple way to add extra floral colour to an outdoor seating area (I have her White Hydrangea Pillows on my terrace!). 3. Alison Iroko Outdoor Furniture from Minotti’s new 2015 collection. The squared-off, architectural lines and bold use of exotic Iroko Heartwood make this a quality outdoor furniture statement.
Victoria: We will also need to incorporate fast, effective heating solutions that enable us to relax, cook, eat, entertain and work in our gardens during any season, even when the weather is cooler. Plus we predict a move away from ‘drag it out/store it away again’ barbeques and instead an investment in modular outdoor kitchen solutions, which allow the preparation of food to take place outdoors, as well as the actually cooking.
ABOVE: 1. The WWOO Outdoor Kitchen, created by designer Piet-Jan van den Kommer, is a virtually maintenance-free prep’ & cook area made up of personalised components, which are set along a modular wall, and can include a Big Green Egg, stainless steel sink, integrated steel fireplace, South African braai, rugged wood storage crates and olive-wood cutting boards. 2.This stunning outdoor kitchen was built by Australian-based company Brick and Stone Construction (contracted by Harrison Landscaping for a project in Mosman, on Sydney’s North Shore). The kitchen includes a wood fired pizza oven, BBQ grill and sink. The splashback & bench top are hand cut & polished Bluestone, and the doors are made of Cedar. 3. This cleverly concealed outdoor kitchen was created for a home in Brighton (the one in Melbourne!) by Interior & Landscape Designer MR.MITCHELL. The reclaimed Australian hardwood adds visual warmth and softens this otherwise minimalist, grey outdoor area. 4. This super stylish prep’ & cook area includes a Belgium-made traditional wood-burning open fireplace by metalfire.
Q2. What about using gardens as playspace, especially for children: do you think that is going to change (and if so, will that affect the look or feel, or indeed the equipment we keep in them)?
Victoria: Creating garden spaces that allow free, unstructured play for children is an increasingly important focus for many parents, as is enabling fun opportunities to exercise. Purpose built, recreation park quality outdoor play features, from climbing walls to mini skatepark ramps, will provide children with secure spaces at home to play, practice skills and exercise. This could lead to an increased demand for all-weather safety flooring, better outdoor lighting solutions and even products as simple as outdoor drinks dispensers.
An emphasis on discovery and learning associated with environmental awareness and food origin also drives a trend for dedicating space to mini allotments for children within the garden. And therefore practical problem solving associated with this, like having outdoor hand washing facilities available for children to use, will also begin to be addressed.
ABOVE: 1. An amazing home skate circuit in the garden that still looks great because it incorporates planting. 2. A home rock climbing wall out on the patio by Elevated Climbing Walls 3. Vegetables, salad & herbs grown in small, raised, colourful boxed beds/patches that are manageable for children to maintain and inexpensive to make. 4. A brilliantly simple, inexpensive but effective vertical garden solution for small children.
Q3. Will we have, overall, just less room in gardens?
Victoria: Population boom projections and mass migration to cities mean that smaller homes, and therefore smaller gardens, are very likely in the future for many places around the world. Often in the UK we make the mistake of thinking about an outdoor area as a flat space, and that limits its potential. We will need to be smarter about how we use the space in our gardens by creating multi-levels, buying multi-functional furniture or furniture that also incorporates storage space, as well as utilising wall space in creative ways, for example using wall space to create vertical gardens to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit or fold down desks that create a work desk outdoors in the sunshine!