Our home is an old barn in rural North Yorkshire. We are extremely fortunate that we have the most amazing views of the Yorkshire countryside so it would have been a crime not to make our outside space somewhere we could use all year round and enjoy the changing scenery.
My brief to myself when designing my outside patio area a few years ago was to create a sociable, exciting holiday-style space in which to relax and entertain with dedicated zoned areas. The decor in my outside space is just as important as my interiors, so I was always going to add fabulous cool products from my favourite brand Rockett St George.
I firmly believe that outside spaces don't have to be boring or bland. Outdoor furniture has moved on in recent years but it is still, for the most part, very corporate and safe (apart from RSG obviously!) So you just need to think outside the box a bit. My style is brave, dark with flashes of gold. There will always be a WOW factor and there will certainly be something with a bit of a rock n roll edge to it - think giant disco balls and leopard print rugs.
When I was designing the patio area in our top garden it was really important that the outside space was a total continuation of the interior. I like my rooms to run seamlessly into each other and applied this approach in the garden as well by using the same colour palette and dressing it as I would my interior rooms. I designed it by zoning it into specific spaces: a lounge area with sofa, armchairs and coffee table; a dining area with a 9ft long Edwardian dining table and benches which we can fit lots of people around for maximum socialising and, just recently, we have built and installed an outdoor kitchen.
We bought a pizza oven at the very start of the first lockdown and it was an inspired move! We used it so much, our boys enjoyed socialising with us and we really felt like we were on holiday in our back garden.
Fast forward two years and I really felt the need to re-jig the space a bit and install a covered outside kitchen. I wanted to create a "Diner" vibe and at one point seriously considered buying a silver airstream caravan with catering equipment in it. But my husband pointed out that due to access and the layout of the garden there was absolutely no way we would be able to get one into the garden.
So, continuing with my Diner theme I used the five star tin tiles from Rockett St George as my starting point. I'd first seen tin tiles many, many years ago in achingly cool cafes in New York when I was about 18 years old. But of course in true Sallydoessassy style I couldn't leave them silver. I gave them three coats of gold spray paint with half a days drying time in between.
Rockett St George do recommend sealing the tiles with a varnish (regardless of whether they have been painted or not) I haven't varnished them yet & probably won't to be honest as I'm hoping they will develop a rusty kind of patina over time.
My joiner, Steve, built our large Verandah a few years ago working from my designs and I wanted the outdoor kitchen to be exactly the same style. It's actually a very simple construction. We attached it to our sturdy boundary wall at one end and built a back panel and one end panel leaving a gap of approximately 50cm between the top of the panel and the roof to allow airflow and also to give a glimpse of the view.
It is important to me that we are able to cook outside all year round as and when the fancy takes us but obviously the weather in the UK is a huge factor so we covered the outdoor kitchen space with laminate roof panels. We had already used the same panels on the verandah so knew how effective they were. The roof was slightly pitched to allow rain water to run off the back rather than onto the Chef! I feel very confident there is sufficient space and air flow around the BBQ and Pizza Oven for the heat not to be an issue but do have a fire extinguisher on hand - just in case.
My interiors are dark. I am a huge fan of Farrow and Ball Railings paint and because I wanted the outside space to feel like another room in our home I painted all the outdoor woodwork in this colour using a multi-surface paint colour matched to Railings.
We already had the pizza oven and the base (which we built during lockdown). Previously I had laid tiles on top of the base but although it looked really nice it didn't feel hygienic enough when preparing food outside so I replaced the tiles with a piece of Carrera work surface. It's intended for indoor use but I figured that as it was a very hardwearing surface and essentially it was under a cover it would be suitable for outdoor use. We just laid the worktop on top of the base and the weight of it was enough to secure it in place. The white surface bounces the light around and accentuates the gold accents.
I had already built the pizza oven base to a standard work surface height so it was a relief to find a Barbeque of the same height which meant that the two pieces could just butt up to each other.
I was mindful that a wooden construction painted dark might look very hard so I softened the view of the end panel by creating a living screen of 6ft tall black bamboo plants. After that, I planted them in huge plastic planters which I sourced from my local Garden Centre (two for £18.99) which I then spray painted gold. The way the bamboos sway and flutter in the wind is actually quite magical and the gold pots add a bit of an edgy unexpected twist which I always like to include in my designs.
I always like to add a vintage reclaimed piece in my rooms and again outside is no exception. I bought this plate rack for a song from a local house clearance sale room. Indoors I use brown tones a lot so, again, this is a continuation of my interior style - a tried and tested combination of dark paint, brown wood, brown tones and lots of gold. I have accessorised using plates and glassware from my indoor kitchen - brown willow pattern plates and amber glassware (both from RSG). There is also a large round black chopping board and a stripy dishcloth (for show only haha! We all have our "for styling purposes only" tea towels right!)
The Rockett St George Large Gold Effect Head Planter is one of my all time favourite pieces. I also have the same one in my hall - it's such a statement piece! I knew he had to be a part of my outdoor styling and he is in fact the keeper of my herb plants and, to bring the whole scheme together, I have included two gold star lanterns which obviously echo the stars on the tin tiles.
I'm thrilled with my outdoor kitchen diner. It's not what you would expect to see in the garden of an old barn in the Yorkshire countryside, its definitely got the sallydoessassy vibe and is going to get an awful lot of use entertaining friends and family for years to come.