How do you go about establishing a harmonious link between inside and outside? Think first in terms of interlocking the spaces of the garden with the spaces of the room that adjoins it to create a flow between in and out. If you can also keep spaces in scale with one another, you will be much of the way toward the desired effect. How you style the outside space can then be used to strengthen this link. For most people, the landscape design comes after deciding on interior style, so it is best to start by looking from the inside out.
Ask yourself some questions. Is the decoration in the room you are standing in period or contemporary? If contemporary, is it minimalist timber and glass, or is it of natural materials? Once you have analyzed the interior, look into your garden and start to think how you can interpret that style outside. Where the mood is period, for instance, suggest the same feel in a garden design that accommodates period features, such as a stone bench or a fountain that is grand in feel.
Strengthening the Link
Now consider color. Is there a strong color scheme that would best be seen against a less demanding backdrop? Or is the room’s effect neutral and able to take a strongly colored outside? Do you have a type of flooring inside, for example, that can be used outside? If not, consider what type of exterior paving will continue the feeling of the interior flooring. Then choose artifacts that will extend the mood. These guidelines should not become a straitjacket, however. Nobody is going to judge your garden for period authenticity. It is a place to indulge your whims and enjoy the results.
The photo above demonstrates some of the effective ways indoor design can flow into outdoor, especially with small backyards and gardens:
- Glass and lighting: To make the most of your small garden space day and night, year round, install as much glass looking into it as possible. Night lighting makes this a really viable additional room that is sheltered and can be used for many months of the year.
- Planting: At the risk of using up too much valuable space, go for plenty of shrubby bulk, preferably evergreen. Don’t worry about flower color— that comes later. Fragrance, though, is very important in limited space.
- Furniture: A glass table with an interesting base and light, airy chairs do not become too dominant. These obviously work with the internal decor as well.
- Bamboo: Ubiquitous bamboo makes a good evergreen plant that is not too heavy and can take some shade. Go for some of its decorative forms, such as Fargesia murieliae, which curves gracefully.
- Ground cover: A simple ground cover preserves moisture, since if not irrigated, these tight urban areas get little rain and can be very dry. Vinca or periwinkle is a standard. Forms of Lamium can be a good choice as well.