Terraces and conservatories

Question – after a stroll around the neighborhood yesterday evening when the day was beginning to cool I wondered why is it that practically all the gardens we passed didn’t look lived in? Not so much the gardens but the terraces and the add on extensions like conservatories?

Climate do you think – we spend longer indoors than we do out, so why bother?

I’m going out on a limb and saying people are not making the most of their existing outside spaces – couple of plastic chairs and a table does not a good garden make! Same goes for a conservatory plonking a few wicker chairs and a plant in a room doesn’t really cut the mustard. An extended family member asked me recently why their conservatory didn’t feel cosy – I’ll refer you back to the wicker chair and plant situation!

Also from experience if you don’t make a space feel squishy, comfy, engaging to spend time in then you don’t spend time in it its as simple as that!

I think the thing that struck me the most was how important it is to create some kind of relationship between outside and in that way you get what we call in the biz a seamless style connection.  Boundaries between inside and outside blur, continue, harmonize and make the space feel as one. Conservatories and terraces, the ones I managed to glimpse a peak of felt so under decorated – I’m putting it down to climate. If this was LA or Australia I bet it would be a different story altogether no?

Steering off course for a second I went to a house not so long ago where the owners got a bit twitchy with me walking on the grass? Because don’t you know grass is for looking at not walking on! Really? . The two M’s kind of sensed there was a grass situation and thought lets be as naughty as possible as they simultaneously then proceeded to roll, dig, yap, charge into each other at full pelt, eat the stuff as if they were sheep and generally embarrass the hell out of me!

Anyway back on point layering up your terrace, conservatory, outside space is the name of the game and one of the hardest things to nail. I don’t think I’ve nailed mine yet. I’ve got the chairs down but I need something squishier and more loungy so I can curl up with a mag, a book. I also want something that can stay out there all year round.  I’ve seen super cool concrete sofas (yes I know not practical or comfortable) but you’re talking to a girl who gets whacked in the head every time she gets out of the bath because the chandelier is hung so low!

Every garden like every room needs a focal point (ideally 3) but hey don’t want to frighten you off so something like a fireplace, fire pit, built in Barbie, clusters of lanterns, pillows something for the eye to alight on and get excited by will help tremendously. Accessorizing an outdoor space is just as important as accessorizing an indoor space. In mine there are t-lights, jugs of foliage, vessels of faux flowers, baskets of logs that kind of thing.

Below I’m showing you Mario Testino’s terrace in LA – how cool is this? Feels just like another room in the house!


Plus a conservatory that is one of the coolest I’ve seen for a long time because its been decorated with as much care and love as a living room so it doesn’t feel at all disconnected to the rest of the space.


Off to the gym – 3 small beers last night and a packet of nuts equaled supper. Too lazy or too tired to cook don’t know which but not good!

13 thoughts on “Terraces and conservatories

  1. I read recently that George Smith have introduced an outdoor furniture range that includes a cool Chesterfield and a buttoned drum coffee table. Not sure how squishy they are but they are on the way to loungy!

  2. Oh those dreadful plastic chairs. I live close to one of the Great Lakes in the US. Our winters are long, cold and grey…..that’s why I’ll never go with the battle ship grey color that’s so popular. I think our difficult winters is the reason for the most part people really do up their outdoor space. We’re so excited to have time outside. When I lived in Florida it was the opposite. You knew the bugs and heat would just take over so why bother. It’s funny you would think it would be the opposite. My theory is in the north we store up energy and dreams and they burst into life the 2nd week of May. I’ve been to England. I kind of noticed what you’re saying too. Until I was there and my daughter lived there I didn’t realize your summer temp. are so mild. I have to say I enjoyed it. When they were saying they were having a heat wave we were thinking Wow, it’s so pleasant! Sorry for being so long winded.

  3. Great post, I am from Scotland originally and I remember that the minute the sun went down, the ‘midgies’ (mini mossies) came out and ATTACKED!!! No lounging in squish chairs in Scotland EVER!

    I don’t know what the problem down south is though, except that we have such iffy weather that no one wants to invest in anything nice. I’m with you, even if I am only able to look out at it, it has to be visually exciting ALL year round.

  4. Abigail I totally agree with you regarding gardens…it appears to be a really neglected part of most people’s homes…I think your outdoor space should literally be viewed as an extra room and decorated as such, weather permitting , of course! But with the lovely weather you have been having in the UK there is really no excuse! In Dubai we do the exact opposite to you..in the summer we store all of our furniture and escape to the cool of air conditioned rooms but the minute the weather improves (ie: cools down)we are all outdoors constantly, so gardens and outdoor decor is HUGE here. All weather furniture is big business, as are pots and accessories for the garden including lanterns, lights and even glam gazebos! We also have amazing outdoor heaters for the really chilly nights! Nothing deters us from spending every available moment outside…great post! Thanks for sharing

  5. Great post! I am a landscape designer and adore creating beautiful gardens. Most people ignore or under estimate the importance of a great outdoor living space.They can be transformational, they can change how we entertain, relax and enjoy our exterior spaces. If done right they not only add value to the home but creates a really special place to enjoy with friends and family. Check out some great before and after pics on my website….. love your work by the way. http://www.flourishgardens.co.nz/Case+studies.html

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