How to furnish a garden: design inputs for contemporary outdoor areas

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How should you design and furnish a garden? What are the essential items of furniture? Which materials should you use for the coverings and how do you install tiles outdoors?

An outdoor area, however large or small, is a great boon for any home. It provides additional living space both in summer and also at cooler times of year, with the right features and equipment (canopy roofs and/or outdoor heating systems). Regardless of size, a garden can be designed to include a relaxation zone, a green area, a dining area, and, depending on requirements, an area dedicated to your children, your hobbies or a pool.

But what does designing a garden involve? What is the starting point for defining its style and functions? Once individual needs and habits have been identified, there are 4 main factors to be considered before thinking about how to furnish a garden:

  1. The division between roofed and open spaces, to create a sheltered area where you can sunbathe, position plants that need sunlight or – why not? – plan a pool;
  2. Good lighting design, to make the most of the various zones and the garden furnishing
  3. The choice of the covering materials, for both paving and walls (which in some cases may be tiled for both decorative and functional reasons);
  4. The careful choice of furnishing features (table, seating, lights, ornaments and textiles, plant pots, etc.).


The differences between furnishing a large and a small garden: the importance of design

Furnishing a small garden is it easier or harder than furnishing a large garden? Both these design challenges are fascinating. The aim is to optimise space in the first case, and to divide it up to prevent it from appearing empty or meaningless in the second. The creation of different areas, defined by the installation of pavings and the placing of trees and flowerbeds, is fundamental for achieving an end result that appears well designed and not random.

Garden paving: the benefits of porcelain stoneware

Garden tiling can be used to limit the amount of grass (and thus the work involved in lawn care) or to highlight the area with table and chairs, especially if adjoining the indoor lounge: porcelain stoneware tiles can create seamless indoor-outdoor floors and paving that emphasise the interiors and underline the link between the two areas.

Outdoor tiles can be installed in different ways: if a screed has been prepared, the tiler will install and grout them in the conventional way (in which case a standard thickness will be sufficient), while in case of raised or dry installation, porcelain stoneware tiles 20 mm thick will be needed. Contemporary large sizes also enable the creation of paths that link the outdoor lounge area with the doors to the home.

The material effect chosen depends on the intended style: the options are more or less infinite thanks to the range of outdoor paving solutions matched with wall and indoor tiles. Wood, stone, concrete, marble, resin: what matters is for the outdoor area to maintain the indoor design scheme.

How do you furnish a paved garden once you have chosen the tiles? It depends on personal preferences and the intended result. To add warmth to a garden paved with minimalist tiles in neutral or light colours, more striking furniture, brightly coloured or with iconic design, can be chosen, as it will stand out against the neutral background. On the other hand, if wood effect tiles have been used, simpler, plainer furniture may be preferred.

Discover Marazzi outdoor paving tiles

The external walls overlooking the garden can also be tiled, both for decorative and design reasons and for functional purposes: if a cooking area or outdoor kitchen is installed, for example, it may be useful to protect the wall from splashes and heat.

Furnishing a garden with pool: designing the lounge area

A large garden can be enhanced by installing a pool, which may even be quite small, and by creating a lounge area with sunbeds, showers and comfortable seating. Here again, the choice of tiles is important, both for obvious reasons of appearance and also to ensure safety and hygiene. In some cases, the same stoneware tile range can be used to pave the garden and cover the edges and lining of the pool itself, for an elegant, luxurious total look.

Some examples? Take a look at some projects: Mallol Design House, Villa Baveno and Hotel Seehof.

Garden furniture: defining the character of outdoor areas

Once you have designed your project and chosen the coverings, the furniture to be used to decorate the various areas of the garden must be selected. Nowadays there are infinite solutions available, from designer to low-cost by way of creative recycling; chairs, tables, sofas and upholstered seating, sunbeds, lamps and plant pots, outdoor mats and ornaments. 

What’s more, thanks to slimline thickness large porcelain stoneware slabs, ceramics can also be used to cover bespoke countertops, furniture, benches and tables, perfect for outdoors as they are convenient and weatherproof: be inspired by Grande, the collection of 6 mm large slabs in the 160×320, 120×240 and 120×120 cm sizes.

So furnishing a garden means not merely choosing outdoor furniture but also designing the outdoor area as a whole, matching furniture, coverings and greenery. If you’re about to design your garden, don’t miss all Marazzi’s inspirational inputs!