Got Cabin fever? These Clever Tricks Will enlarge the look of your outside LIVING SPACE quickly, easily and without costing a fortune!
We ’re all spending more time in our outside living spaces than normal this year, so why not make it feel bigger than it really is? These simple tricks will all magnify how large your garden feels and make the most of whatever space you have. And don’t think that means you’ll have to get rid of anything. The genius thing about our super-clever ideas is that all they take is a little reorganising or rearranging and some easy planning. You can complete these quick and easy projects in a few minutes, a couple of hours or a weekend – and then sit back and enjoy your garden even more.
CREATE A MIRROR WALL
We all know that hanging a mirror in the garden creates a bit of trickery to make a space appear bigger. But siting a mirror all along one boundary wall can make your plot look enormous – double the size, in fact! And if you think this visual swindle sounds prohibitively expensive, stop right there. ‘Menage mirrors’ are enormous weatherproof mirrors designed for horse riders that cost a fraction of the price of domestic garden mirrors. Try the Arena Mirror, 2.4 x 1.2m, £153.45 horsejumpsforsale.co.uk.
PLANT PALE BLOOMS
How clever is this?! There are two optical cheats going on here. The first sleight of hand at work is using the palest of pale blooms, which visually recede into the distance and evoke an illusion of depth. And the other is sticking to a simple planting palette o one tone plus white. This naturally cal your brain because it’s not overwhelm with information, and so the restful scene feels unhurried. The relaxed mo this induces will leave you feeling that your garden is airy and unending. You don’t need to do this for your whole garden (though that looks great, too!) – just try it out with your patio pots.
Add an oversized pot Buy the biggest pot you can afford, and give it pride of place on your patio. Clear the clutter of small pots to another area of your garden to focus all the attention on this one, oversized giant. The contrast in size will make everything else seem smaller and further way, tricking your mind into thinking your garden is bigger. Go for a lightweight container that looks like real stone or metal so you can move it about easily, or pop a heavier one onto wheeled plant stands to make them pots on the go! White Polystone Mammoth Bowl, Dia70cm x H30cm, £199.95 riverhillgardensupplies.com.
MATCH GARDEN TONES
Bamboozle your brainwaves into thinking there’s less clutter in your garden by making your furniture or outdoor structures the same colour as the fence or wall behind it. Just imagine having a green painted shed against a white fence or wall – it’s going to stand out, right? But match them, and they both will appear to disappear! So, choose the main colour you want in your garden and then paint everything else in the same or similar shades, pots and planters included. We’re big fans of Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Spray Paint (£9.49, amazon.co.uk). It’s quick to spray on and covers pretty much anything that doesn’t move! @Wall Planters available in White, Anthracite, Grape Purple and Mint, H19 x W25 x D17cm, £5.95 each worm.co.uk.
Make the bottom of the garden a destination Step out into your garden now and what do you look at? Chances are it’ll be your patio, or whichever pot of blooms is at its flowery best. But pop something brighter than bright centrally against your back boundary so your gaze is drawn down your plot, and you’ll appreciate the full size of your garden every time you go outside. Paint a section of your fence, reposition a bright pot or treat yourself to an on-trend colour-pop piece of furniture.
EROUTE YOUR PATH
The traditional option has always been to lay a path down the centre of the garden. And that does make sense as it creates the shortest route to the end – but it also divides the garden in two, making it appear smaller. Moving your path to run alongside one side boundary or, even better, creating a curved design, will deceive your eyes into imagining the space looks bigger. To add a simple curved stepping stone path around your lawn, plot out your design, using one slab and some spray paint. Using a spade, remove the marked out grass squares and the soil beneath to a depth of 1.5cm. Line the holes with sand and level, then pour in ready-mixed cement and place the slab on top, using a spirit level to make sure it’s perfectly flat.
Put planting pockets into paving
This is one of those weird optical illusions where having a little more is better than havin a bit less! An expanse of bare slabs emphasise the smallness of the space, so by breaking the sea of paving with a few squares or lines of planting, the area will appear much larger. All you need to do is to lift a few slabs and replace them with some eye-catching plants. Take a chisel and hammer and gently tap around the edge of each slab to break up the concrete. Remove the debris, lift up the slabs, then dig through the base and the soil beneath to create a planting hole. Fill in the hole with compost and add your choice of plants.
CREATE A COLOUR ILLUSION
It’s a much-leaked secret that garden designers paint boundaries in a dark colour to create the illusion of them looking further away than they really are and – hey presto! – a larger space. But this little trick takes it a step further. Try painting just the wall or fence at the end of your garden in a darker tone, and then paint the side boundaries a tone or two lighter. This makes your garden look longer and wider. It works with all colours, not just black, so if you’ve already got light grey fencing, just repaint the end boundary in a slightly darker grey, and see what a difference it makes. To heighten the effect further, paint any objects that are near to the boundaries in a vivid tone (try Little Greene exterior paint in Trumpet, £32/1L, littlegreene.com). They will appear closer, creating the illusion of more space between them and the fence than there really is, so making the boundary seem even further away!
Reflect the light
Anything that bounces sunlight around your garden will help to make it feel more airy and therefore bigger. Matt surfaces and paint tend to absorb light, whatever their colour, but shiny surfaces reflect it. Repaint the shed or other garden structures using a high-gloss paint, and swap terracotta pots for mirrored or highly polished metal planters. Ceramic Mirror Glaze Cube Planter, H31 x W34 x D34cm, £49.99 primrose.co.uk.
Cloak boundaries with blooms
The sneaky trick behind this idea is that if you can’t see your wall or fence, then you can’t be sure just how big or small the garden space actually is. There are lots of ways to camouflage your boundaries besides smothering them in climbing plants. You could fix a rung of shelves onto a wall and fill them with trailing plants to conceal the background. Or what about planting black bamboo against a black painted fence? Adding different heights or styles of plants up and around your boundaries will deepen the deception even further.
CLAIM YOUR VERTICAL SPACE
Think of your garden as a 3D space rather than just a flat patch of ground with boundaries, and claim all that air as yours! The best way to do this is to add a pergola, arch or gazebo. But if you’ve always shied away from these because you feel such a large, solid wooden structure would overwhelm your small plot – think again. There’s a raft of new metal options on the market that are, by design, much slimmer than their wooden counterparts. An even quicker, easier trick is to add large, open-weave trellis panels to the tops of fences or walls to increase the height without blocking any sunlight. Or, simply string some festoon lights from a summerhouse or pergola to a tree. However you frame the sky, it’ll hoodwink you into feeling that your outside space is huge.
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