One of my all time favourite rooms in my first London apartment in 1995 was the living room because of its breezy look and outdoorsy feel. So here’s how to create a garden atmosphere indoors with tips on mixing outdoor and indoor furniture and accessories.
I searched auction houses and second hand stores as well as high street shops for pieces to brighten up a relatively dark room next door to a busy road. Here it is (pictured below) with curtains made to my own specifications – pre the wooden floor era which seemed to begin in 1994 – with a glorious white, round metal garden table in the bay window area.
I picked up the garden table from the Lots Road auction house in Chelsea that year…. quite an ‘eccentric’ idea at the time to furnish your sitting room with garden furniture.
But today – not least since lockdown – the line between indoor and outdoor living space is blurred. Now almost anything goes… Flexible living and an individual style are the biggest design trends atm. So bringing outdoor plants and furniture inside, and vice versa, is one of our favourite home style ideas.
Vibe and Accessories: How to create a garden atmosphere indoors
The light-footed iron table is so breezy and romantic looking with its delicate feet and ornate patterns. It lifts the space and creates a lighter mood in a room not blessed with lots of natural light.
The pot plant on the table is heather (an outdoor plant which sadly does not survive long indoors) and a reminder of the wild and windy west coast of Jutland. Those windy beaches are covered in sand and sharp dry grass and lots of fabulous purple heather. Here I placed the heather in a stained tin bucket snapped up from a charity shop.
For those of us who don’t (or didn’t) have a garden or outdoor space, this is a super way to create a second best setting. Check also our post on how to sow and grow your own plants indoors here.
This look is also text book Scandi Boho – mixing and matching pieces which are not obvious bed fellows: like a brand new designer sofa flanked by rustic side tables topped topped with glossies, coffee table books or a fabulous lamp.
What Garden Furniture is suitable for indoors?
Much as we love the garden vibe indoors, it’s important not to get carried away – having a comfortable sofa or chair to sit in is key and garden furniture is not (yet) designed to sit in for long. And if, like me, you pick a charming, weather-beaten antique iron table, be warned it is not ideal as a dining table.
Ditto garden chairs, which can be rickety and heavy and uncomfortable to sit in for a long dinner.
Garden furniture indoors: rickety, noisy wicker chairs
But garden furniture designs are improving all the time and adapting to flexi use. Some wicker chairs and tables in more upmarket stores are so sturdy and well-designed they look fantastic anywhere.
But if you have an outdoors space or are happy to invest heavily in good furniture then advisable to splash out on pieces designed for indoors use.
The garden vibe indoors is beautifully achieved with complementary pieces such as side tables and accessories. Here’s our list of favourites on how to create a garden atmosphere indoors:
- Wrought iron tables: decorative for displaying plants, pictures, lamps, candles etc
- Side chairs: placed against the wall for decorative purposes
- Foot stools
- Wicker baskets, whch can be used for wood, newspapers, knitting yarns etc
- Candle stands/holders
- Stoneware urns
- Coffee table
Where to find suitable Garden Furniture for indoor Decor
You’ll find amazing pieces at small auction houses. Locals pass on their old pieces to sell in as they upsize. And here you get the chance to see the pieces in real life as opposed to shopping online.
One of our favourites, as mentioned above, is Lots Road auctioneers in London’s Chelsea. But there’s likely an auction house or sales room in most major towns in the USA, too.
Ebay, of course, is also the space for second hand items as well as car boot sales and outdoor markets which you’ll find lots of in bigger cities.
Among of our favourite hunting grounds for adorable pieces are charity shops. Charity shops such as Oxfam and Trinity are often specialising in a certain area such as fashion only or paintings. But check out high streets in your area or neighbouring towns. Some are mere luxury dumping grounds for locals who give away their (sometimes very expensive items) to local charity shops rather than bother with resales.
What materials work best in garden furniture?
My favourite material is wrought iron. It’s solid, low maintenance and has that rustic, forever antique look and feel to it. Like the round table in the picture, but also in chairs and most other garden accessories. And it’s so different from indoor furniture material.
Wicker chairs and tables are also super chic and have a real, laid back, sandy beachy feel to it and a colour that blends beautifully with green plants. However, while most of us associate wicker furniture with brown and caramel coloured bamboo….wicker is not the colour or the material. Wicker is actually the weaving technique.
They even say wicker is a Scandinacian word…vika means to bend in Swedish. But wicker happens to be the oldest furniture making method, going back 5000 years.
Yet wicker chairs can be noisy: creaking whenever you move in a chair. Yet, today’s technique has improved considerably and many wicker chairs are actually not made from natural bamboo but synthetic material. Still, super chic look!
Here’s a beautiful arrangement from the USA (picture above by Nathan Waters). See the two small coffee tables and the foot stool in white wrought iron. While the sofa may not be the most comfortable thing for long, the foot stoll particularly adds pzass and a summery feel indoors.
Soft furnishings are also a great flexi accessory – woven rugs which work both outdoors and indoors and big cushions in earthy colours.
And last, but not least – one of our favourites: the gravel/colourd stones to cover the soil in your indoor pot plants. I struggle to find nice gravel stones in the UK – in Scandinavia they’re everywhere on the shelves. I pick the large green ones which are like adding jewellery to greenery. You can get them here on Amazon.