Get fresh with these nine ideas for outdoor spaces

There’s a stretch in the evenings so why not try these fresh ways to get into the garden

Great drying out there
Start with household chores. Tidy away the clotheshorse and take laundry outside where the longer hours of daylight and the gusty weather makes drying au natural ideal time and especially bulky bed linen. It will also smell fresh in a way no fabric softener or washing powder can replicate. Pictured, above, in a fresh but offbeat shade is Junimagnolia, a duvet and pillowcase set that costs €15 for a single, €20 for a double and €25 for a king-size, and a pretty blue and white print, Finnoxel, €29 for a single bed set, all from Ikea.

Coffee outside

If you want to soak up some vitamin D then on dry mornings why not take your morning coffee or tea al fresco. But after a long winter under covers in the garage or shed garden furniture can that you thought was OK to use can appear tired-looking and weathered, especially if its more than a few seasons old and made of timber. Give it a new lease of life and bring some colour to your garden or terrace by painting it in bright primaries or richly pigmented pastels shades.

M&L Paints new Alitex Collection is a range of 15 colours available in external eggshell or masonry finishes that will transform seating, tables, shelving, decking and even old pots and walls that look past their sell by date. The first sunny afternoon you get give everyone in your household a brush a pot in their favourite colour, one litre pots, about €29 each, and get busy.


Cook alfresco

Cooking alfresco keeps food smells in the house to a minimum and a wood-burning pizza oven will encourage the kids to make their own meals. This Alfresco Chef oven is built using five cm of ceramic fibre installation and three cm thick fire brick floor tiles so that the oven can reach temperatures of 400 degrees Celsius within 15 minutes and remain consistently hot throughout cooking.

It comes in a hot red colour and a mobile stand but its flat base means you can also install in an outdoor kitchen set-up, as long as you sit it on a heat-proof surface. It also doubles as an outdoor heat source and costs €649 from Celbridge-based The Orchard. A cover for the oven cost an additional €69.

Feel the heat

There's a change in the weather and while it is tempting to step outside it is still not warm enough warm to do so without some layers on and sans the lure of some sort of visual heat. Dutch designer Osiris Hertman resolved this issue with a very smart, upscale, gas-fired, double-sided indoor and outdoor fire, installed in his beach house. He went with a Sky TO design by Netherlands-based firm Element 4, a style that has large panes of glass on either side.

To minimise heat loss on the outside he a second layer of glass, a removable pane of thermoglass set at a distance of 30cm from the front of the exterior side of the fire to minimise heat loss. It costs €7,386, excluding fitting and flue but including VAT, to order from Fenton Fires, Greystones.

Wash in warm light

You can completely transform an outside space by using light to paint the place in visual warmth. Designed by Barcelona-based architecture practice El Equipo Creativo the funky shade of magenta at Bala Perdida Club helps to create an atmospheric and more inviting place even when the mercury is low. The after-dark cocktail spot in Madrid, is housed within bare brick industrial arches that the picks out and its an idea that is easily transferable to a garden or yard.

This colour washing will transform the personality of a dark, north-facing space into somewhere you might want to spend time. Kilkenny-based Willie Duggan Lighting describes it as "wayfinding" and can do something similar. Two and a half metres, plus a wall colour control, will cost upwards of € 350, including VAT.

Try terrazzo

If your terrace or deck is in need of a bit of makeover then consider outdoor terrazzo. Designer brand Otto Tiles, which has just opened its first showroom in London, offers the on-trend surface in three cool colours; white, good for helping to reflect light back into a dark room; a gorgeous restful lawn green that will give you all the aesthetic upsides of grass with zero maintenance or a shade of sandstone pink that will contrast beautifully with specimen plants and add a large dollop of visual warmth into the mix.

Its K-12 Terazzo costs €99 per sq meter, ex delivery, with a minimum order of ten square meters and can also be used indoors in bathrooms, kitchens and floors so you can seamlessly knit your indoor and outdoor elements together.

Furnish the great outdoors

If you live in a home with only a small yard or patio then Hay’s Palisade outdoor furniture is a cool investment that can also be used indoors, effectively doing double duty and making it work harder for the money you pay for it. On the days when the sun shines it is portable and light enough to easily transfer outside. The rest of time its olive green powder coated steel frame will add a soft pop of colour to your kitchen.

The range, which includes a 170cm long table that sits six, €769; a stool, €225; a bench with back and arms, €585; a selection of chairs from a stackable diner, €249 each, to a carver, €339 each, as well as a portable and chargeable LED lamp, €85. The collection is currently on offer at Ely Place-based Inreda where you can get 15 per cent off on orders placed before our very own green day, March 17th.

Spring for a picnic ...

It's a little early to really think about picnics, like this John Lewis set-up, but when the sun shines and you happen to find yourself in a sheltered spot you could be convinced otherwise. But dining al fresco in March comes with some caveats. Invest in a weatherproof-backed picnic rug to stop the damp ground seeping into your bones. The Great Outdoors sells a hardy range that will keep such chills at bay. Due in stores mid March prices start from about €19.99. You can then lay a fancy rug atop the protective layer and even add sheepskins for additional warmth. For a more casual approach the store also sells small foam mats that its hill walkers love to take on hikes. These Compact Kumfie sit mats, 38cm by 49cm, cost €7.99 each, fold up and can be slipped into a pocket.

...But bring a hot bottle

A really quick fix is to bring a hot water bottle with you when you venture into the garden. CA Design stocks the YuYu, an 81cm-long design that you can wear like a scarf around your neck or wrap around your waist like a belt. It comes with a sumptuous cover in either cashmere or a cashmere and merino wool blend and costs €125. A coney-covered traditional bottle is another, delicious warming option. The Fur Hot Water Bottle Company sells a wide range of scandi shades as well as pink and white options, from about €146 upwards, but not the mustard yellow, pictured.