A mainstay of slick apartments and sophisticated townhouses, a terrace is a sweet addition to a home and holds a particularly special place in the hearts of urbanites who crave the joy of spending time in the great outdoors. In contrast to office days, the chance to breathe some fresh air and catch some early evening sun is near sacred.
It seems that there’s not much better than these elevated mini gardens – just big enough to have some semblance of the al fresco life without the upkeep of a larger garden. It’s here where the usual morning cup of coffee can become the best part of a day and where any dinners between the months of May to September will be hosted. Like its larger outdoor counterparts, a terrace becomes an extension of a home and demands the same design consideration from furniture selection to styling.
1. Choose your furniture wisely
Just as you would in your living room or dining room, take time to carefully consider your outdoor furniture style. You might find that your house may very well influence the vibe of your outdoor space (for example, a Victorian home suits wrought iron, bistro-style furniture) but you ultimately still have the choice of the kind of space you’d like to create.
If a terrace is all you have by way of outdoor space, remember that this might need to be divided into various areas for dining, lounging or entertaining. Include a garden set suitable for an intimate gathering as a dining area, a sofa and a few chairs around a coffee table as a place to socialise pre- or post-dinner and a lounger for quiet Saturdays in the sun.
2. Add cosy touches
For a terrace which is a true extension of a home, cosy touches are essential and cushions and throws should be included in the same quantities on your outdoor sofas as on your indoor sofas. These additions make your sofas and chairs more comfortable, your decor more welcoming and give a space a finished off appeal. If your home is fairly restrained in its colour palette, bright outdoor cushions and throws make a fun change of pace. Think sophisticated though and opt for vibrant tones with a bit of richness to them.
Image Credit: The Beecham, Capco
3. Use outdoor-specific materials
The rule for long-lasting outdoor style is to only ever use furniture, accessories and even flora which can withstand extreme environments. Garden furniture and outdoor fabric manufacturers create specialist materials which are completely weather resistant meaning they’re resistant against UV rays and water and insensitive to varying temperatures. For extra peace of mind, reputable specialist outdoor brands offer warranties of a minimum of five years so look out for those too.
When it comes to cushions, it is, however, still advisable to use a cushion box to prevent unnecessary mildew or mould.
4. Make use of vertical space
Since a terrace lacks the room that a full-sized garden has, vertical space is your best friend so try to work up instead of out. Consider using slender statues, tall and narrow topiary trees and climbing plants which require a smaller footprint.
If you want to include lawn space or shrubbery, hire a professional to create a stepped configuration for a multi-platform effect. Each of these can then be used to house planters or lanterns for a themed yet cohesive look.
Image Credit: Katharine Pooley
5. Include some source of heat
As much as we’d like to believe that weather conditions would always be perfect to accommodate our outdoor relaxing, the truth is that sometimes things are just a little too cool to venture outside without anything to keep you warm.
Patio heaters, chimineas and fire pits or fireplaces frequent the classiest exteriors for their ability to mimic the comfort of a living room and often make a great focal feature in their own right.
For safety reasons, keep these away from foliage and in the case of fire pits or fireplaces include a grate.
6. Plan a lighting scheme
If you plan to spend every waking moment basking in the late evening sun you might find yourself in need of some additional help on the lighting front. Built-in architectural lighting and outdoor wall lights are ideal for terraces as, again, they won’t take up any of your precious floor space and once installed won’t leave any wires around. Combustion lighting from candles and fires adds a romantic magic to an outdoor space. Discover more about lighting techniques for outdoor and architectural uses in our Ultimate Guide To Lighting.