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Transforming your Garden into a Social Space with a DIY Veranda

As gardens go, many of us feel completely lost as to what to do with the space we have. From small courtyard gardens to large open spaces, gardens are often wasted and used very little, when they could be a real asset to your home and lifestyle.

While using a designer often comes at a hefty price, with a little guidance we all have the skills it takes to plan and create a sociable and usable outdoor space. A great way to take your garden from uninspiring to a place you gravitate towards is to build a veranda.

A recent project inspired us to provide you with the information that you need to plan your very own veranda and transform your outdoor space. Read on to read our case study, including all the information you need to plan your space and style it to create a comfortable and beautiful seating area…

The Project

Debbie and Neil wanted to create a space for them to relax in their garden that would also double up as somewhere they could socialize with friends and family during the spring and summer months.

Their garden was uninspiring and didn’t compel them to spend time outdoors. Originally it was bare and made up of grass and concrete, with no clear seating area. This meant during the warmer weather they didn’t spend much time outside, instead choosing to leave their home to get some fresh air and sunshine, or meeting friends and family elsewhere.

While they had plenty of space, the garden just wasn’t set up properly for relaxing or al fresco dining. Debbie and Neil wanted to create a beautiful, low maintenance space that they could relax in outside. The new seating area should lead down to the bottom half of the garden, which would be laid to lawn. The objective was to allow them to enjoy using their garden, regardless of the weather, and to give them a space that they could host guests for drinks, dinner or a BBQ.

The solution was to build a veranda with covering at the top end of the garden next to the house. This would enable them to easily bring drinks and/or food out from the kitchen, and give them plenty of space to have friends and family over, or simply sit quietly with a book. If you have a larger budget to spend, you may want to consider building an outdoor kitchen in your space too.

The space needed to be versatile, cost efficient and make the most of the square footage they had available. It also needed to be aesthetically appealing too, as would be seen from the back of the house. This meant using natural materials, with a focus on lighting and styling, as well as function and form.

Debbie and Neil worked with Carnie Home Improvements to complete the project. The end result is a beautiful raised veranda that can be used no matter the weather, offering a versatile space to sit, but also an attractive view from the house and from the bottom of the garden. Alongside building the veranda, they styled the space beautifully and made the most of the available square footage, putting in lots of seating for relaxing and socialising.

If you’d like to create something similar, here are the steps to take to create your very own stylish outdoor seating area...

Step 1: Space Planning

The first thing to consider is the space and what you want to achieve. Having clear goals in mind will ensure you create a space that works for you and your needs.

Before you start looking at the space available and coming up with ideas, write down the objectives for the project. These could be something like:

  1. To create a space that we can socialise - hosting up to 10 guests for food or drinks

  2. To create some shelter in the garden, so that we can sit outside in the midday sun, or even when it’s raining

  3. To create an attractive view from the house

  4. To create more usable space, making the garden an extension of our home

Once you have clear objectives in place, you can start to understand the options that are available, and discount other ideas that won’t meet your needs.

From the above, you decide that a veranda is the best option - it gives you the seating space you need, but will be versatile as it offers shelter, can be attached to the house and will look beautiful too. The next step is to consider the space available and make a plan.

When deciding how big to go with your veranda, consider the space you have available very carefully. Your veranda could span the entire width of the house, or you may choose to place it to one side, leaving some extra garden space free.

A veranda typically includes a raised patio or deck, covering over the top, rails or fencing around the sides, and steps down to the rest of the garden. When deciding where to place your veranda, think about access from the house, and access to the rest of the garden. These areas will need to be kept free, so it’s also worth thinking about where you might put your furniture and other elements such as a BBQ. Thinking about these details early on will ensure you get the most out of your space and avoids any awkward mishaps, like discovering where you’ve placed the access stops you from being able to fit in the corner sofa you so badly wanted.

Create a floor plan. It doesn’t have to be highly technical, but it will help you plan how everything will work. Don’t forget to plan in elements such as lighting too - getting these details in place early on will make the building process easier, and will ensure you don’t have to ‘undo’ any of yours or your builder’s hard work.

Don’t forget the rest of the garden too. While you might not be planning on addressing the rest of the space any time soon, it’s important to consider what you will do with other areas of the garden, and how everything will work together. This may influence the placement of your veranda, and you’ll be glad you thought about this when it comes to transforming the rest of the space as well.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to look at how you will create your veranda. Whether you’re going to be building it yourself, or working with a local landscape design company or builder, it’s worth taking the time to explore your options.

Step 2: Planning Permission

Something to consider is whether you’ll need planning permission or not. Many of us wouldn’t consider this, but technically a veranda is a permanent structure, so this will need looking into. Generally, verandas don’t require planning permission, but you can check the UK Planning Portal for more information and to rule out whether you’ll need to submit a planning application before you get started.

Don’t let this put you off, as more often than not you won’t need planning permission, but it’s still worth double checking. A few ways in which you can ensure you won’t have to go down the route of submitting for planning permission is to follow these rules…

  • Make sure your veranda isn’t wider than the existing building

  • Make sure your veranda doesn’t come out any further than 3m from the house if being attached, or 4m if being put up as a standalone structure

  • Don’t exceed the maximum height of 4m

  • Your raised platform shouldn’t be higher than 300mm

  • The ground used by the veranda shouldn’t cover more than 50% of the land with the house.

These are a few basic rules that are well worth following, and generally most verandas would not exceed the above limits anyway. They also offer a good guide to follow if you’re designing your veranda yourself.

Step 3: The Details

Important details to consider include materials, lighting and even furniture. Before you start building your veranda, it’s a good idea to have these details decided to make the whole process smoother.

Think about things like the colour of the patio stone you will use, and how you might finish the wood used to build the covering of your veranda. Typically, treated timber is used for the rafters and support posts etc, and this can be left as it is, or painted. Patio stone comes in all sorts of finishes and shades, so choose this carefully too and think about the overall look you want to achieve.

When it comes to lighting, there are lots of options. Might you want string bulbs hung from the roof? This can be really effective at night, creating a canopy of light, offering low level lighting to create a lovely atmosphere and make you feel safe and cosy under the canopy. Uplights and spotlights are also great options for your veranda, and give you a choice between really low lighting or brighter lights with overhead string bulbs.

In our case study, Debbie and Neil used grey patio stone and left the structure of their veranda natural for a rustic finish. They hung string lights from the roof and added upward facing spotlights around the edge of the decking floor, and on the decking fascia more spotlights to light down the garden.

Step 4: Styling

Whether you want to think about styling as part of the overall process, or you choose to leave this until after your veranda has been built, it’s still an important step. Styling will help add that personal touch and will make your space more practical and useable to suit your needs.

Styling includes furniture and accessories such as soft furnishings and outdoor rugs. On their veranda, Debbie and Neil used a large corner sofa, complete with central coffee table, cushions and draped curtains for extra privacy.

Wooden verandas are beautiful in their own right, but can be really enhanced with some clever styling. Consider choosing a theme for your outdoor space. Ideas for inspiration could include bohemian, Mediterranean or 'Scandi' schemes, all of which lend themselves well for an outside space.

When choosing your furniture, first look at form and function, before style. Look at options that will help you maximise the available space and consider how much seating you may need. If you’re more likely to spend time relaxing outside, or hosting casual get togethers such as BBQs, a corner sofa, armchairs and coffee table works better over an outdoor dining table and chairs. Corner sofas are a great way to maximise the space available, offering plenty of seating. Consider the style too. If you’re going for a bohemian scheme, rattan works brilliantly, or for a Scandi style you might want to opt for a simple white set.

Soft furnishings work well on a veranda, making the space feel like an extension of the home, an outdoor living room if you will. Cushions, throws and even curtains soften the straight lines of the frame, making the seating extra cosy and comfortable. Again work with your scheme. If you’re going for a Mediterranean look, consider floaty sheer curtains next to the posts to add privacy and extra texture. Try blue cushions in a variety of shades.

Don’t forget about potted plants too, after all this is an outdoor space. This is a great opportunity to add colour with pots and flowers. Try grouping together sets of three in a corner, or if you’ve got a fair bit of space, try a raised planter made out of railway sleepers or leftover decking boards.

Step 5: Practical Style

The styling of your outdoor space can also offer additional practicality, and doesn’t just have to be for show. A great way to enhance your space, add extra character and boost practicality is by using an outdoor rug. Introducing texture, colour and an anti-slip surface, an outdoor rug can completely transform your veranda and make it user friendly throughout the year.

Hardwearing and designed to withstand the interchangeable British weather, an outdoor rug is a great way to take your outdoor seating space to the next level and enhance your scheme. Patterned rugs work well to add interest, while plain rugs can add a pop of colour. An outdoor rug also makes it easy to keep on top of brushing away leaves and any other outdoor debris that may fall, as they are easy to sweep over with a broom, and won’t cause bits to get stuck between decking grooves. To find your perfect rug for your veranda, browse our collection of outdoor rugs.

Veranda on a Budget

If you want to create a DIY veranda and work to a budget, it is possible to complete this project without the need to hire a landscape gardener or builder. The above case study takes you through the planning process, providing lots of ideas to get you started. When working with a landscape gardener, often you will have support with the planning process, but if you choose to go it alone, this really isn’t necessary and it’s entirely possible to plan and complete everything yourself.

A do-it-yourself veranda can be just as successful as one you pay professionals to build, but it will cost you several thousand less to complete. When building a wooden veranda yourself, you’re looking at a budget of around £500-1,000, depending on how big you want to go.

There are lots of guides online to help you with the building process. From blog posts to YouTube videos, you can learn step by step how to create your own DIY veranda in just a few hours, learning exactly what materials and tools you need and how to build your wooden veranda.

If you’re unsure of which route to go down, we always recommend getting some quotes first to help you decide whether to hire someone to build your veranda, or build it yourself. You could follow both approaches, doing what you’re comfortable with yourself, and getting someone in to help with the trickier jobs.

The End Result...

Coming back to our case study, Debbie and Neil now have a spacious veranda that allows them to maximise their outside space and enhances the way in which they spend time at home. Not only does their wooden veranda look beautiful, it also gives them more options when it comes to socialising or relaxing.

Little things like being able to sit outside on a Sunday morning with a coffee and enjoy the sunshine or listen to the birds makes all the difference. Evenings can be spent relaxing with a glass of wine in hand, string lights on overhead and soft music playing, and friends and family can easily gather all in one space to enjoy good food, drinks and good company.

It’s well worth paying a little extra attention to your outside space, making it an extension of your home to be enjoyed as you please, and a veranda for many ticks a lot of boxes and offers the perfect solution to transform your garden.

  • Posted On: 25 February 2021

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