Interiors advice - move the indoors, outdoors this summer

PUBLISHED: 16:51 15 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:51 15 May 2015

Fire pit spheres by Andy Gage

Fire pit spheres by Andy Gage


Alison Tordoff looks at way of moving the inside outdoors in the (hopefully) sunny summer

There’s no greater indicator of the British capacity for optimism than in our love of eating and living out of doors.

In spite of the extreme unpredictability of our weather – and the fact that we have perfectly comfortable kitchens, dining rooms and conservatories - the outdoor furniture market at the last survey was worth something in the region of £975m.

It’s not just the increasing sophistication of barbecue equipment. We love to add sheds, summer houses, shade sails or canopies, and sun umbrellas into our gardens, to create outdoor living spaces. And it takes only a few days of good spring weather to bring about a profound change in mood.

Back in January I wrote about Neanderthal man and the importance of fire for comfort as well as warmth. Now, in June, the dominating influence is that spending time outside in the fresh air and sun is relaxing and increases your vitamin D levels, which in turn makes you feel happy.

In terms of design, I treat the outside area in the same way as an interior by creating zones and generating different experiences as you journey through them. As well as the usual planting I try to do a couple of larger projects a year around the garden.

This year I’m adding some organic sculpture and aiming to create a circular archway tunnel for flowering climbers and doing a little projects with the kids turning some upcycled old chairs into swing seats and finishing them in the new bright garden paints.

The great thing about garden design is that it’s seasonal; the colours and plant structure are forever changing naturally and this can be used to your advantage. Adding layers of colour and structured architectural plants can add variety and total flexibility, swapping them around as the plants come and go.

Imagine extending your social evening by moving your dining table and chairs outside, recreating your dining room. Use simple strings of exterior festoon lighting, scatter tea lights in sparkly jam jars, and add a full dinner setting with candelabra for a dreamy and memorable event.

It’s easy to add comfort and colour by throwing in some bright funky scatter cushions and fleecy throws for later in the ending when it’s cooler.

And that Neanderthal love of fire? One of the most dramatic new pieces I’ve come across is this stunning fire pit sphere by artist Andy Gage ( Not only is it functional and mesmerising, but it’s also beautifully designed as a piece of sculpture and quite rightly the centre piece of any patio.

Alison Tordoff runs Fidget, an international award-winning interior design company. She lives in Windermere and recently launched The Love District, a new label which celebrates the history, culture and landscape of the fells and lakes.

It includes a distinctive ‘Lakeland bookends’ wallpaper, with matching aprons and tea towels, along with cushions and other home décor fabrics.The wallpaper was made originally as a prototype for Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel, which has won awards for design excellence.

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