Many of us view our home and garden as two separate entities, with a firm boundary in between. However, linking these two spaces to create the perfect indoor/outdoor living zone can make both areas look and feel bigger – regardless of the size of your property.
With the unpredictable British weather, it’s important to consider practical solutions that will provide adequate shade and shelter throughout the seasons, from heatwaves in the summer to torrential rain, wind and snow in the winter.
Add a canopy or awning
Thought to be more versatile than gazebos and parasols, the addition of a canopy or awning is one of the quickest, easiest and most affordable ways to transform any outdoor space. Both practical and stylish, either of these easy-to-use external shading products will act as an extension of the roof of your property, offering instant shade and shelter from the sun and rain showers, whilst also withstanding wind speeds of up to 30mph (in some cases). If a manually operated system doesn’t appeal to you, opt for an electric motorised awning that you can extend and retract at just the touch of a button.
Install a pergola
Modern pergolas with either sliding/retracting fabric or rotating aluminium louvered roofs (and sides) offer a more pragmatic and long-term solution to awnings and canopies. Whether it’s in the form of a freestanding structure within your garden or adjacent to the house as a direct extension of the property, a pergola is a simple yet effective way to give the impression of an outdoor ‘room’ and provides complete flexibility to the user.
If you already have a veranda or pergola that needs a bit of a re-vamp, why not consider high-performance external blinds that can be mounted to the top and sides to effectively shield from the elements and create a cosy and pleasant environment all year round?
Consider what your outdoor space will be used for
To help you decide which type of external shading will work best for you and your outdoor space, you need to consider a number of factors such as any obstructions (trees, fences and guttering), the position of the sun when it sets/rises and finally, what your patio or garden will primarily be used for.
A canopy or awning with a lower projection will be sufficient enough to cover a small outdoor dining table, however, if you’re part of a big family that likes to entertain al-fresco on a regular basis, a larger projection is highly recommended! Most pergolas come in standard sizes; however, some companies offer a customised design service and will be able to meet any specific requirements you may have by working to a bespoke brief.
Customisation is key
To help create a comfortable indoor/outdoor living space that can be used all year round, invest in additional personalisations such as ambient white LED lighting that can be dimmed to set the scene for a romantic meal or turned up for a family gathering; infra-red heating that can be zone controlled; coated premium fabrics that generate a ‘self-clean’ effect and even weather sensors that can automatically retract a motorised awning if strong wind speeds are detected.
Whilst higher quality and more premium outdoor structures will already be designed to withstand heavy rain, gale force winds and even snow, opting for sliding glass, windproof zip screens or separate entrance doors will not only ensure complete control of the elements, but provide the ultimate luxury all-weather outdoor living space, 365 days a year.
Utilise all technology
Finally, the latest technology means you can manage every element of your outdoor shading system digitally, from either a single remote or via an app on your phone. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can open and close the electric roof on your pergola in real-time (or set a timer to do it automatically), turn the lighting/heating on and off and even view the exact position of your pergola or awning – from anywhere in the world!
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