Versatile living: Stylish furniture that works Indoors or outdoors


The once firm distinction between indoor and outdoor furniture is fast disappearing, as people seek out smart and durable pieces that will adorn both the exterior and the interior.

This new attitude is partly based on minimising the CPU (cost per use) of any item. We may all hope that the sun will shine during the coming Bank Holiday weekend, and that many glorious weeks will follow, allowing us to enjoy our gardens or balconies.

But it makes economic sense to invest in tables, seating and tableware that can work just as well inside for 52 weeks of the year, if the summer weather disappoints.

Dual-purpose: The Morso outdoor log oven will cook dinner while keeping guests cosy

Dual-purpose: The Morso outdoor log oven will cook dinner while keeping guests cosy

Another reason to opt for the indoors and outdoors piece is the shortage of dining sets and other outdoor essentials that’s being caused by the post-lockdown surge in garden socialising. 

If you have to wait several weeks for delivery, it’s consoling to know that something will still be a source of pleasure and utility when the nights draw in.

Also isn’t it better (and more environmentally friendly) that an outdoor item should earn its keep inside, rather than clutter up the shed, or be stacked on a balcony?

Opting for the indoors-outdoors items has the added benefit of bringing what architects call ‘biophilic’ design into the home. It seems that our well-being is enhanced if we are surrounded by items that evoke every aspect of nature.

For example, the Zuiver Ranger Outdoor rug (£399 from Cuckooland) comes in two different palettes; green and gold and grey and gold, conjuring up the colours of the most beautiful British landscapes. Uplifting in a garden, but also in a sitting room in winter.

The Blenheim outdoor range starts from £249

The Blenheim outdoor range starts from £249

All-seasons seating

The first Lloyd Loom chair was created more than a century ago, and this seating, made not from cane or rattan, but from twisted paper and steel, still looks perfect in any type of garden, or indoor space (sitting room or bedroom).

The Blenheim outdoor range starts from £249. B&Q offers the Apolima bench (£126) or chair (£63), either of which could make the move from the terrace to a contemporary living room.

Colourful cusions 

Weatherproof outdoors cushions can withstand the elements, a quality that also keeps them looking spruce indoors in busy (or clumsy) households.

Bazaar's range of cushions (£19.99 each, bazaar-group.uk) features lemon trees and other exotic patterns

Bazaar’s range of cushions (£19.99 each, bazaar-group.uk) features lemon trees and other exotic patterns

Warner House supplies cushions in glorious 18th century chinoiserie prints that add glamour to anything from a rattan chair to a grand sofa (£40 each).

The collection from Andrew Martin includes muted designs, like Gypsum rock and the vibrant Volcano Lava, an amber and white ikat pattern (£70 each).

The range from Bazaar (£19.99 each) features lemon trees and other exotic patterns that would transport you to a foreign shore on a gloomy November evening.

Turning the tables

A trellis table such as the Baunton table with two benches from the Cotswold Company (£699) is ideal for dining under the stars, or for kitchen suppers in midwinter.

If you are looking for a budget buy, the grey slatted top polypropylene Dunelm Trabella table (£99) is serviceable and elegant.

Take it inside and it makes a stylish working-from-home desk that many will believe is wood, not plastic.

If you may be returning to the office, what’s the point in laying out a large sum for a desk?

The Brabantia Bo Touch four-legged bin in red

The Brabantia Bo Touch four-legged bin in red

Statement bins

The Morso outdoor log oven, a Danish creation for cooking pizza, steaks and salmon, is this year’s choice for those who like to exhibit their chef skills. 

But anyone who is splashing out £999 on this status symbol needs a decent bin for food preparation and other alfresco dining trash. 

The Brabantia Bo Touch four-legged bin in red, white, silver and black has two compartments, for rubbish and recycling (£164, Wayfair). This is a bin that would cut a dash anywhere.

Perfect crockery

At stately houses in the past, the family watched peacocks strut across the lawn while being served drinks on the terrace.

The peacock feather print trays from the home range of Matthew Williamson (£80 to £110) pay homage to this elegant era.

John Lewis (johnlewis.com) has clear and blue glasses (£5 each) and tumblers  (£4).

The peacock feather print trays from the home range of Matthew Williamson (pictured, £80 to £110, matthew williamson.com)

John Lewis has clear and blue glasses  at £5 each (left). The peacock feather print trays from the home range of Matthew Williamson (right), £80 to £110)

Plastic glasses may offend the sensibilities of many wine lovers, but they are practical and ideal for larger indoor gatherings when these can happen again. John Lewis has clear and blue glasses (£5 each) and tumblers (pictured left, £4).

The bamboo and melamine dinner plates (£17.50 for a set of four) from the Marks & Spencer outdoor range have images of fish and would supplement white crockery all year round.

the £99 'go-anywhere, rechargeable, portable and dimmable' Bud Light from Heals

the £99 ‘go-anywhere, rechargeable, portable and dimmable’ Bud Light from Heals

Alfresco lighting

Candles, lanterns and festoon lights create atmosphere for alfresco entertainment, but for real illumination you need a portable lamps such as the £99 ‘go-anywhere, rechargeable, portable and dimmable’ Bud Light from Heals.

It can serve as a night light in a child’s room or as extra lighting if you want to read in a darker corner of a sitting room.

Anne Ashworth

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