So, you’ve successfully completed a major renovation or extension to your home. Finally, you sit back, take in the view from your sleek, new bi-folding doors and then it hits you: the garden has been trashed by weeks of building work and is now completely at odds with your stylish new interior. 

But don’t fear - award winning garden designer Christine Wilkie is on hand to offer expert advice. 

The garden is often used as a storage area for building materials and equipment with the resulting detrimental effect: compacted soil, bare and unusable lawns and damaged beds and borders. In short, your outside space is more ‘neglected lot’ than stylish plot! So what’s the best way to get that seamless transition between your home interior and the garden? 

Although sometimes an afterthought in the grand scheme of home improvements, with a little forward planning and thoughtful design, the garden can be the perfect complement to your home. Extending your interior design to the outside is the ideal way to ensure your garden delivers on both style and substance. Here are some top exterior design tips to taking the wow-factor outdoors. 

Plan for success

Ideally, start thinking about your garden as early as possible in the home improvement process. Engaging the services of a professional garden designer can help avoid costly mistakes and missed design opportunities. Gardens can often be a lot smaller after build works and a garden plan will ensure you get the most out of the remaining space. Getting the garden designer to work in tandem with your architect and/or interior designer also creates a virtual team where the sum is larger than the individual parts. 

Usable spaces

Just as you have tailored each room in your house according to its form and function, so too the garden can be viewed in exactly the same way. Think about how you plan to use the garden and zone it accordingly. Areas to look at include main entertaining and dining space, children’s play area, edible garden, outdoor kitchen and so on.

Material choices

Borrowing from the interior’s colour scheme, textures - and even materials - is a great way to link the outside with the inside. Consider, for example, the latest porcelain tiles that have been specifically designed with dual functionality in mind. Look for and choose products that work equally well as interior flooring and as exterior paving – a surefire way to get that seamless transition. 


Don’t forget that the style of boundary you choose will have a significant visual impact on the overall look of the garden. The choice of boundaries can make or break the end result. Whether you go for traditional fencing panels, contemporary trellising, native hedging or garden walling, think about the effect you are trying to create. Opt for a boundary style that will enhance, rather than detract from, your outdoor room.

Lighting up time

Lighting extends the garden’s use well into the evening – transforming it into an attractive and inviting place when viewed from indoors.  So, think beyond security lighting: while this may be essential in certain places, it is too harsh and inflexible to deliver subtle garden lighting effects. Use garden lighting to create ambience, layering lights in borders, uplighting architectural plants, or highlighting a vista, feature, focal point or pathway. 

Finishing touches

Once the landscaping works are complete and the plants are in, the all-important finishing touches can finally be installed. There’s a great choice of garden furniture available to suit all tastes and budgets. Your garden designer will often be able to help source the most suitable products for your space, as well as advise on other key elements such as planters, fire pits and garden statuary. 

So, in summary, try and give as much thought as possible to your garden ahead of building works. Engage expert professional advice to bring your garden ideas to life, and share as much information on your interior plans as possible. Above all, enjoy the journey! 


Christine Wilkie is an award-winning garden designer creating classical-contemporary gardens and outdoor rooms throughout London, the Home Counties and further afield. Her design philosophy is to create gardens that will stand the test of time, and enhance the client’s home and lifestyle.