Hartman Florence Emberglow Gas Fire Pit Set
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

Outdoor living trends for 2018

Increase your living space and make the most of the outdoors

Hartman Florence Emberglow Gas Fire Pit Set (pictured above)

Last year saw a huge rise in the outdoor space being used as an extra room; after all it is less costly to extend into the garden than it is to move house. Whether you build a permanent structure with one wall which opens up completely into the garden, or else just make an enclosed space and cover it with a gazebo, using the garden as another room can transform your way of life. This Runcton Retractable Gazebo from Norfolk Leisure is a great compromise as it attaches to the house, has curtains to keep out the draughts and also the roof sections slide back to allow in the sunlight.

There are masses of ways to enhance your outdoors to make it as comfortable as being indoors. The range of garden furniture has moved on from uncomfortable wrought iron and hard wood into the realms of deep soft cushions and large comfy sofas. Keep warm outdoors with a stylish fire pit with a BBQ grill on top, such as the Hartman Florence Emberglow Gas Fire Pit Set or one of the contemporary European designed fires from Happy Cocooning. A lot of the new heaters are gas fuelled so no messing about with dirty charcoal or briquettes.

The emphasis with outdoor living, first and foremost, is comfort and quality. Attractive stylish furniture is also a consideration with modular sets, such as this Kingston Modular Set from 4Seasons. Colours of furniture are still going to be muted with accents of a strong colour. The colour of the year is Pantone No: 18-3838, ultra-violet, so expect to see this appearing as splashes of colour in the form of cushions, outdoor rugs, crockery and planters.

Pantone colour of the year 2018 Ultra Violet 18-3838

Gone is the couple of chairs plonked on a scruffy bit of grass and in is the defined space with a tactile hard wearing surface, great for walking on in bare feet. Porcelain tiles with a natural uneven non-slip surface or wood effect are a great investment being hard wearing, stylish and maintenance free. Gone is the old pressure treated slippery decking and in are stained and waxed wooden boards. Both the porcelain tiles and waxed boards can be merged seamlessly with the flooring inside the house making the outside space part of the home and not a separate entity.

Not only do you bring the living room outside but the kitchen can also be brought outdoors as grills and pizza ovens become more stylish. Outdoor eating has moved away from the usual burgers and sausages and into virtually anything you would cook indoors in the kitchen. Our youtube channel features masses of BBQ videos showing how to cook breakfast outdoors, how to bake, how to eat healthily and how to cook casseroles as well as the usual BBQ staples of steaks, chicken and baby back ribs. There are also several videos showing how to cook the Christmas dinner on various barbecues; so no need to wrap up the BBQ for winter, just move it closer to the door so it can be monitored from the comfort of indoors. For an even more stylish, seamless look outdoors why not have the grill and pizza oven built in, along with a log store and work surfaces.

Alfo Toto Grilloven

Alfa Toto Grilloven; featuring BBQ grill, pizza oven and space for a wok

Fire pits and planters have moved away from the cool, crisp stainless steel to copper which weathers to a nice greenish patina, in keeping with the natural stone effect or wood flooring. It is also in keeping with a less structured planting display which looks set to be more environmentally friendly, incorporating wildlife-friendly plants, hibernation sites, bee nesting boxes and a more natural water feature. There is an ever-increasing move towards veganism, with people more aware of the impact chemicals are having on the environment and on ourselves. This is resulting in more ‘grow-your-own’ plots springing up, an increase in greenhouse sales and even someone with very little outdoor space can grow strawberries and tomatoes in hanging baskets, salad leaves and herbs on the kitchen windowsill and dwarf varieties of vegetables in containers. The new Wonderwall Vertical Planters are ideal if you have very little outdoor space as they can be used to grow your herbs and vegetables or just plant with ferns for a living wall.  

As we are gravitating towards a healthier way of life houseplants will become an important aspect of our lifestyles for their ability to purify the air, provide humidity in centrally heated spaces and reduce stress and noise. The trend this year will be for hanging pots, a boon for those with reduced space to place a container, and to group several plants together hanging at different heights.

All in all this year is all about creating a calming additional living space where you can restore your batteries and where you can’t wait to spend time with family and friends.