Country-inspired 'outdoor room' in the middle of London

Here, in this six-by-six-metre oasis of calm, it is hard to imagine that you are in the centre of the bustling streets that make up the Inner-London suburb of Notting Hill.

The outdoor area is perfect for entertaining
ARTICLE Clare Chapman PHOTOGRAPHY Marcus Harpur

Sitting in this country-inspired ‘outdoor room’, you’re taken into a world within itself. 
Here, quaint country charm merges seamlessly with elements of the traditional potter garden; while an eclectic modern twist seals the project as a unique and versatile landscape design in what is, essentially, a tiny, dark space.
The house, owned by a well-known television presenter, is one of a row of terraced brick houses that were built in the 19th Century. They were originally designed as a row of traditional shops and later transformed into houses. The client’s taste is obvious in the interior styling, which has a well thought-out modern-eclectic feel, resonating a quirky charm.
With this in mind, landscape architect Philip Nixon set out to create an outdoor space that linked to the client’s style, while also creating an area that could be used effectively as another room for entertaining, and an extension to the home’s indoor rooms.
The garden with nice seating area

“Space was a big issue, as we were working with a small area. It was a small and hidden space with little direct natural light, so we needed to get the most out of it,” Philip says. “It was a very dull area that was quite dank and dark as it is surrounded by other buildings. One of the walls of the garden was the side of a neighbouring house, which rather loomed over the space.”
The client’s eclectic style was a central part of the design, as was the desire to create an elemental space, which includes a fire, water feature and the textures of timber and stone. There are also elements that aren’t Philip’s usual style, but they give this landscape an added level of charm.

 “We had some fun with it by collecting antique garden tools and some gnomes (without telling the client!) and put them in the garden.”
After a six-month design and construction phase, the space was transformed into an enchanting country-style outdoor room, enhanced by delicate lighting and careful plant and material choice. This set off the small area and gave it a homely and natural feel; a distinct step into the outdoors yet a place that has an inviting ambience while working as almost as a second lounge area.
A garden with nice seating area
Plant choice was central to the creation of the landscape, Philip says. “We used grasses including sedges and Hakonechloa, as well as Hellebores, Euphorbias, Ivy and Hemerocallis. The hedge is Buxus. We chose plants to ensure that there would be an evergreen structure with some perennial highlights.”
“The materials are natural and elemental. The garden contains wood, water and fire, and there was a big emphasis on lighting as the evenings were likely to be the main time the garden was used.” 
The mix of basalt stone and Iroko wood, provides an earthy, natural texture to the design, while the verticality of the Ivy and careful planting creates an atmosphere of tranquillity and significantly opens up the small area.  


Location: Notting Hill, London
Project type: Modern and versatile landscape design
Project budget : £50,000
Timeframe: Two months to build
Key features: Small fire and water feature, soft lighting and nice seating area. The garden looks as good from the house (see from large picture window) as it does from within. 

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This article by Clare Chapman featured on page 85 in Issue 020 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page. This is not a Refresh Renovations case study. 

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