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How to Extend your Living Space Outdoors –Working with Color

As suburban gardens become smaller, outdoor areas have evolved into more of an extension to our interior living space. Much more thought needs to be given to decorating the available space so that it becomes a totally integrated area. Colour in particular greatly affects our moods and changes the feeling of the space within which we relax, play and entertain. And for plant lovers, there's a plant that’s suitable for every colour scheme and every location.

If you already have a dominant architectural or color theme indoors that brings you pleasure, try to extend this to the outdoor area so it becomes a natural extension of the indoor living area by using the same theme with cushions, pots, furniture or other decorative features. If you have a wooden floor adjacent to the outdoor patio or courtyard, you could extend the natural wood look to the outdoors constructing a wood deck with a similar colour lumber species. A simpler and quicker alternative if you have an existing concrete patio is to cover the area with interlocking wood decking tiles. These tiles can be simply laid over any existing concrete or wood surface and lock into place with inbuilt connecting tabs. There’s a range of wood species available so you should be able to find a color that comes close to your existing flooring .  And if you have ceramic or porcelain tiles indoors, there’s now a range of similar interlocking tiles available with ceramic tiles on top which also comes in a variety of colours and styles. Both types of tiles can be laid by anyone without any experience in just an hour or so and are generally available in several patterns so you can choose a design which suits your situation best.

Experiment by using neutral colours for walls, fencing and paving and then by changing decorative accessories and garden plantings, you can create a different look for each season until you've found what works the best and give the most pleasing result.

Don't overlook using textures in addition to colour, as contrasting textures play a very important role in a pleasing landscape design. Opportunities for experimenting with texture effects could include tables, chairs, pots, wall hangings, cushions, paving, plants and practically any decorative accessories. Foliage in particular offers a multitude of textures and interesting shapes. Choose plants with a theme in mind: are you creating a tropical wonderland, a place to sit in the sun and dream of holidays in Tuscany, or a stark modernist approach with grasses and cacti? But before rushing out and spending a fortune at the nursery, remember that each plant has specific requirements in terms of soil, sun, humidity, temperature and rainfall. If you can't provide these, your plants simply won't flourish. Consider how each plant will look in each season, especially the main season when you want to be using your exterior spaces the most.

But remember, too much of anything, whether it's patterns, textures or colours, can be confusing. Too much variety in small spaces can look excessively “busy”. And with plants, large groupings of just one or two varieties will usually create a much greater impact and look more balanced in a small area than a host of different plants with a riot of different colored flowers.