A garden, a courtyard, a terrace or a balcony forms part of the house they belong to, and they must be furnished and decorated as well as the rest of the house. It is not fair to devote less attention and care to these areas, just because they are not part in in the “covered” area, especially because they represent a living area as well as an important business card for the aesthetic balance of the whole house.
Outdoor decorations are a great way to add a further touch of style and simplicity, or even originality, to any outdoor area, be it large or small, not to mention the fact that, by choosing with care the furniture and decorative elements for outdoor areas - in line with the style of the rest of the house - you can create the perfect location to spend some time relaxing with your friends, or to devote yourself to your hobbies in complete freedom and serenity.
A nice outdoor area, decorated according to your taste, is able to change the perception of the whole apartment by turning it into something closer to your idea of home. The solutions to decorate outdoor areas are innumerable: they can have just an aesthetic function, or they can also be functional to make use of your space at best. You can have available a large garden or just a small piece of courtyard in front of the house; a large terrace or just a small balcony. It does not matter, because you will always find the right solutions to change the look of this outdoor space.
A few details in the right place are enough to change the global look of any outdoor area and on the market there are many different ideas to create your own style. Some people decide to separate outdoor spaces from the rest of the house, by using a completely different style to decorate them and creating something new and unexpected. Other people instead prefer to maintain the same line adopted for the rest of the house, following some kind of stylistic coherence that keeps the same characteristics in every part of the house. There is no law, there is no logic imposed: there is only your imagination and the freedom create a space that reflects your needs and tastes, fully representing your personality.
Many different items can be considered as “outdoor decorations”, a category that includes all those elements suitable to be exhibited in non-covered areas. Even a table can be considered as an outdoor decoration if it has some characteristics that make it immediately recognizable and stylistically appealing. A floral decoration, a sculpture, a garden gnome... There is no limit to the imagination when you decide to transform your outdoor areas: you only need to make the right choices, carefully thinking about the purchase and deciding which style to adopt so that your garden, terrace or balcony are not just a disjointed group of elements.
In fact, it is easy for outdoor elements to shift from being decorative to being just silly: a set of items is considered as decorative when it creates a balance that – be it pleasant or not – has a purpose and follows a specific logic. It can be a choice based on colours, style or a specific theme, but it must be consistent. By keeping this in mind, let's see what are the most common, interesting and innovative proposals for furnishing and decorating the outdoor spaces of a house.
The absolute protagonists of outdoor decoration are with no doubts garden gnomes. They have entered the collective imagination as an essential element to place in your green area, no matter how small it is. Over the years, they have somehow become the symbol of outdoor furniture. Garden gnomes are small statuettes, often made of plaster, representing those imaginary creatures that according to the tradition live in the woods where they work hard as lumberjacks or taking care of the surrounding nature.
Garden gnomes are perhaps the oldest form of decoration for outdoor areas in Europe, since they were born in Germany in the 17th century. Since then, their shape has not changed much, although at the beginning they were entirely handmade using terracotta or wood, and then painted. They were real sculptures, miniature works of art that brightened the outdoor spaces of aristocratic and bourgeois villas, becoming one of the favourite toys of the children who lived there.
However, garden gnomes took over two centuries to cross the borders of Germany and reach the UK, led by Sir Isham: 22 garden gnomes in different size and shape were put on display in his yard immediately becoming an irresistible attraction for his small town. They were made of clay, finely shaped, and they are still exhibited in a museum as a historic record of an immortal piece of furniture.
Today, garden gnomes are usually made of terracotta (sometimes plastic) and produced in series, although still exist some artisans and artists who create personalised garden gnomes on customer requests. Many people believe that the garden gnomes were born with the tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” but actually, as you might guess by following a historical logic, it is not true. The Disney tale was born only in 1937, more than 50 years after the dwarves have landed in Britain.
However, those who choose to buy the garden dwarfs to furnish and decorate outdoor areas, always purchase 7 of them. The market is also “guilty” for this wrong belief, since after the Disney tale’s success a massive production of garden gnomes recalling the little men in the movie began. This is mainly evident as regards industrial production, because artisanal garden dwarves are the result of the imagination of the artists who made them: it is obvious that there may be some similarities, but the statuettes are not related with the characters of the cartoon.
Garden gnomes are usually little men with a white beard and a red hat on the head. They often have red cheeks and are busy with tasks usually related with mountains. They can either carry firewood, wheelbarrows, a hatchet, or being represented while resting for a while. The function of garden gnomes is purely aesthetic: they are a nice and fun decoration, but someone also uses them with a specific purpose, for example like placeholders for cars in the garden.
Moreover, the evolution of technology also affected garden gnomes, which have become excellent outdoor lighting elements. In fact, it is not uncommon to find lighting system in the shape of a statuette, often powered by solar energy. Especially in recent years, with the spread of LED technology, lamps in the shape of garden gnomes have become increasingly common. Garden gnomes have entered folklore and urban legends, so much so that a garden gnome liberation movement was founded.
Born as a game, the Garden Gnome Liberation Movement bases its activity on the fact that these little creatures must live in their natural environment, the forest, and not relegated to home gardens where they are sad and sorrowful. What was obviously born as a joke, has resulted in several cases of gnome thefts. The “kidnapped” gnomes where then placed in the forests around the city, or broken in order to free their soul from the plaster trap that imprisoned it and to avoid a new capture. It is said that those who manage to free a garden gnome will have as a reward for their soul a long run of luck.
Today, the movement has almost disappeared, and the gnomes do not risk to be stolen anymore, but they are still one of the most common decorative elements for outdoor areas. Moreover, they are not only purchased by those who have a garden or a green space, but you can also find them on balconies and terraces, since they are decorative items able to embellish and add a funny touch to outdoor space.
However, garden gnomes are not the only solution to decorate the outdoor spaces of your home. For example classic statues, that are perhaps the first real decorative element for the house all over the world: a classic and immortal element that were used to embellish the gardens of large villas already during the Hellenic era.
From the ancient Greeks to the Romans, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, statues have always been considered as the decorative element par excellence, able to give prestige to the house. If in ancient times they were real sculptures made of fine marble by extraordinary artists, today the statues for the garden usually are cheaper and simpler items produced in series and made of plaster. Obviously, there are still some great sculptors who create beautiful marble masterpieces, but they are not as fashionable as they used to be, and usually people prefer something less demanding for their modern homes.
Today, sculptures mostly follow a modern and contemporary inspiration: classical statues representing elegant men and women recalling the classical tradition have partly been replaced by abstract sculptures of contemporary art, perfect for the most widespread architectural style. As an alternative to sculptures, many people choose different decorative elements such as plastic objects that give a touch of originality to outdoor areas.
Among the many outdoor decorative objects available on the market there are those in the shape of animals, especially pink flamingos. This pink animal, elegant and sophisticated, has become a common decoration for garden, adding a touch of colour and unexpected joy to a nice green area. Often made of plastic, in some cases it is commissioned also in plaster: a real pink-painted sculpture you usually find in very large and modern villas whose owners are attentive to the latest design trends. Among outdoor decorations, we can also mention some outdoor lighting systems.
In fact, you can easily find special lighting devices conceived for outdoor spaces, for example the pendant lamps specifically designed to be resistant to bad weather. The wires of these lamps is coated with a durable rubberized material that fully insulates electrical cables from moisture and weather. In the same way, globes and light bulbs are perfectly insulated with a coating that prevents moisture from penetrating.
The light is provided by LED elements, ecological and long-lasting, that ensure power saving and a higher level of light compared to traditional lamps. Of course, not everybody has access to an electrical outlet in the garden or on the terrace, but you do not have to give up using these delightful decorative elements for outdoor use. Thanks to the evolution of technology, in fact, some solar energy powered solutions have been created, which are able to accumulate the energy required for an average operating time of about 6-8 hours.
This is possible thanks to the low energy supply required by LED elements. Very often we find these decorations in the movies where they create a romantic and dreamy atmosphere, perfect for a party or for a dinner with friends, or just to create a special lightening for your garden.
Today they are decorative elements that also serve as a practical alternative to the bed when you want to enjoy a nap in total relaxation. However, they have a very ancient history, dating back to the prehistoric era, when they were used to sleep comfortably away from the moisture of the soil. According to experts, hammocks were born in the pre-Columbian and Caribbean civilizations, and they have spread in Europe with the arrival of the first settlers. Traditionally, they are made of a rope net, a very durable and resistant material. More recently, they have also been made of synthetic materials that are even more resistant, even if the aesthetic result is quite different. Hammocks usually require the presence of two trees positioned one in front of another that could serve to fix it. Instead, most modern models are designed to be used also on terraces through horizontal rather than vertical anchors made of metal hooks placed on metal supports.
The success of hammocks as outdoor decorations is due to the fact that in addition to representing an aesthetically pleasing element, they are also particularly comfortable and original items. Thanks to their typical swinging movement, hammocks can provide you with the greatest relaxation. Talking about solutions to relax suspended mid-air, hammocks are not the only outdoor decoration of this type: you can also find hammock chairs, those pieces of furniture that were already present in large European noble houses in the 18th century. These structures are usually made of wrought iron, with a classical taste, almost ancient, and fixed through a durable support (usually a chain) to an upper anchoring. They follow the logic of hammocks, but they are lass “natural” elements and they recall a more classic taste.
Moreover, when we imagine a suspended seat, it is impossible not to think about the rocking sofa: a classic element for the garden that over the years has often been revisited and modified but always preserving its essence and peculiarities. It is one of those outdoor elements that have entered collective imagination thanks to American movies, where it usually appears at least in one scene, in a garden with the characters of the movie sitting on it and having a conversation, or just admiring the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
However, speaking of outdoor decorative seats that are increasingly appreciated especially on the terraces of city houses, we cannot forget about beanbags.
They are both practical and pleasant to the eye. They were born in the early ‘50s when modern decoration and design were starting to establish themselves in the collective culture. Beanbags has always raised strong curiosity. No matter the shape, no matter the model, a beanbag is always a beautiful element to place in an outdoor area, useful to furnish but also to offer comfortable relaxing breaks. Outdoor beanbags are usually made of synthetic materials that are resistant to bad weather. Moreover they usually are easy to clean. A beanbag is suitable for any furnishing style, it can be considered as the wildcard element of outdoor decoration. The most classic beanbag has came back into fashion in recent years, becoming the ultimate expression of design.