The great outdoors – with an indoors vibe

 John Lewis KETTLER Adelaide Garden Table & Chairs 5-Seater Lounging Set
Setting the scene: the Kettler Adelaide Garden Table and Chair 5-Seater lounge set from John Lewis, £1,599 (

Fed up with being locked down indoors? It's time to take the living room outside


Bring the indoors out

Yes, you read it right – instead of bringing the outdoors in, the latest trend is to recreate a living room feel in your garden or outdoor space.

And in these times of lockdown, when we’re getting fed up with looking at the same four walls, why not enjoy change of scene from your favourite armchair? (Obviously this depends on how large it is, and whether you can practically move it outside.)

Whether you have a large country estate, a patio garden or a small balcony, the principle is the same: to recreate all the comfort and style of your interiors on the exterior. Of course, there are two major provisos – we need to be in British Summer Time (tick) and enjoying un-British Mediterranean-style weather (tick, following hottest day of the year so far).

We love the understated elegance of this open-air living room furniture. All items are from the Modern Garden Company (

With the weather set fair, what more excuse do you need to slide off the flip-flops, sink your feet into the coolness of a lush lawn (if you’re fortunate enough to have one, doubly lucky if lush) and recline on a luxury sofa while listening to birdsong?

Creating an open-air living room is all about making your outdoor space feel pampering and luxurious, somewhere you can relax from afternoon into evening and where you can entertain at will when we’re allowed to exercise free will and socialise again. Even now that we are limited, if restrictions are eased to allow household ‘bubbles’ of interaction, what better place to meet up than in the garden, with fewer risks of coronavirus infection than indoors?

You can easily set up a temporary open-air living room on the lawn by moving a small sofa or chaise or a couple of comfy armchairs outdoors, along with cushions, pouffes, a throw or two and even a rug. Set up an outdoor lamp on a side table, such as our Pembrook weathered oak side table, et voila – you’re all set for a sundowner.

You can do the same on a balcony, just scale it down and add real or faux plants for screening to give you some privacy. Climbers such as jasmine or a tall tepee of sweet peas will give you the added benefit of their gorgeous scent on a summer evening.

For a special occasion when you know the weather is going to stay dry, you can even move your dining table and chairs out into the garden and set the table outdoors. Our Brunswick weathered oak dining table would be ideal for this, as it could easily be moved out through a set of double doors and extended outside … to seat up to 10 people.

 Brunswick extending table
Imagine our Brunswick extending dining table outside, all ready for a dinner party (when we can have them again).

There’s something deliciously decadent about eating al fresco at a gorgeous weathered oak dining table rather than at a common or garden table, especially if it’s beautifully styled and laid. (See our collection of tableware for lots of inspiration!)

Turin Corner Set (pictured below, £1,400, Cox & Cox,
Turin Corner Set, £1,400, from Cox & Cox.


Of course, if you’d rather not have the aggravation of moving furniture, you can always invest in some bespoke outdoor pieces. One that caught our eye is a luxury garden dining set from Cox & Cox. The new Turin Corner Set (£1,400,, pictured above) would do justice to any large garden.

We also like the Modern Garden Company’s boutique collection ( which is very elegant and understated in its design.

Light the way

Lighting your outdoor living room is just as key as if you were indoors. You can add ambience with candles in hurricane lanterns (or our rope candle holders would be ideal) and add touches such as solar-powered vintage-style bulb string lights (good for trees or balconies).

Cordless table lamps are no longer just a novelty item thanks to Dorset-based designer Alexander Joseph, whose decorative lamps with ceramic and glass bodies are hand made by master craftsmen in small workshops. These gorgeous lamps would look amazing on a side table or at the dinner table outdoors. They operate with specially made vintage-style LED bulbs which can run for over 52 hours before recharging is needed. Spectacular ‘one off’ designs and commissions are also undertaken. (

Make a statement with a cordless table lamp by Alexander Joseph.

For more permanent statement lighting, luxury fittings can make a real impression, like this striking swan-necked Granary Light in antiqued brass (£320.80) and the contemporary Newton Downlighter in brass (£235.40) both from Jim Lawrence (

The Granary Light (below left) and Newton Downlighter (below right) by Jim Lawrence.


Turn up the heat

Finally, as with your indoor living room, you want to be able to keep warm when the temperature starts to dip. So how about an outdoor log burner to keep the chill at bay?

If you're looking for luxe, you can't go far wrong with stove specialist Chesneys' Clean Burn – an eco-friendly outdoor wood burning stove (£1,249 excluding delivery, It emits a substantial amount of glowing heat and uses very little fuel.

 Clean Burn outdoor woodburner from Chesney
Clean Burn outdoor wood burner by Chesneys.


For a more budget-friendly option, supermarket Aldi has just relaunched its bestselling outdoor log burner (£59.99) and faux stone firepit (£49.99) but they are already out of stock online. If you're shopping at an Aldi near you it may be worth keeping your eye out as there are still some available in store. 

Aldi's outdoor log burner, still available in some stores.



May 22, 2020 by Mandy Lebentz
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