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trend alert: accessorising your outdoor living area

There are certain outdoor accessories that will never go out of fashion, like a built in serving bar, and some that should not be timeless, but are, like gnomes and pink flamingoes. When it comes to accessorising your outdoor area, make sure you are choosing items that are suited to your garden or entertaining area, and are as long-lasting as possible.

Style trends

Accessories for your home or garden are as fickle as fashion for the body, so make sure you have an eye on what the latest styles are so you can keep up-to-date. Trends in outdoor features at the moment are contrasting natural with man-made materials.

An easy way to achieve this look is to try sculpted topiary in earthenware vases, with squared-off shapes. Other natural materials to consider are sand, bark (mulch), natural stone, fire and water. Contrasting man-made elements that work well are stainless steel, shaped stone like slate, light-coloured fabrics, wrought iron, glass and powder-coated wire.

A Zen sand garden bordered with railway sleepers, featuring a stainless steel sculpture can be a calming juxtaposition with architectural flair, or slate-lined waterfall built into a natural bank can create a peaceful interlude for your garden.

If you've chosen a narrow-lot design, you may be able to incorporate more than one of these ideas in your larger garden and lawn area.

Longevity

There are two aspects to consider when planning an outdoor area that will stand the test of time. The first is the physical robustness of chosen materials, and the second is the timeless appeal of the objects you choose.

For example, a hammock made out of rope or fabric is a beautiful addition to any outdoor space, but proper care will need to be taken to make sure it doesn't get ruined by sun, wind and rain. Conversely, a metal sculpture installed in a wall could last for decades, but be out of style within a couple years if you decide to change the tone of your decor.

To this end, it is important to make sure you choose outdoor accessories that are both materially strong and are either easily removed when they date, or are of such a design as to never go out of fashion. 

It is also imperative to consider the maintenance involved in some accessories. You may like the effect of a man-made birdbath drawing in some resplendent examples of Australia's natural wildlife, but if you can't maintain the water levels, or any deposits left by guests, this could soon turn into an eye-sore.

Top tips for accessorising your outdoor area this season are to use stainless steel where possible, to provide style and long-lasting value, and to incorporate as much green as possible into your statements.

Also, if you have demolished an old house to build your new one, there may be stone or rubble that could be used to build up garden areas into interesting sculpted spaces.