Words by Alyce Tilley – we had to ask  our graphic and creative designer Alyce to write a guest piece for us, we just love her style!!

Space; Nobody ever seems to have enough of it…

These days, the “Great Australian Dream” of owning a quarter acre block is rarely considered, let alone achieved. We could spend a vast amount of time debating why…is it that we are that the market is unattainable? That our spending is frivolous? Are developers are taking over? Or do we refuse to compromise and move to the outer suburbs? A combination of all of these factors and more?
In all honesty, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is making the most of what little space we have!Scandinavian style outdoors garden design

Walking through a city street and looking up, you see high rise buildings covered with overflowing balconies. Those precious square feet are relished by city dwellers as the last remaining hope of the Great Australian Dream.

With space at such a premium, I can’t help but see the growing importance of my favourite design element: Negative Space. Why does this have such an impact in the never ending search for room? Negative space enhances, defines and captivates, while creating the illusion of openness. It is the valuable space surrounding objects, and also the cornerstone to successfully achieving minimal and contemporary design.

The Scandinavians are brilliant at it. They relish simplicity, utilising neutral colours and minimal elements to create what feels like a deep breath of fresh air in an over cluttered life.

Walk into any department store and almost every new item has elements of Scandinavian design – raw timber, pastel and metal highlights, monochromatic tones, sharp edges and an array of plants – all while maintaining sophisticated restraint. The results are mesmerising.

The great news is that the Scandinavian style can be successfully applied to any design, including all types of outdoor living; no matter how small the space.

Scandinavian style outdoors garden design

Minimalism took the world by storm in the 1950s, and it is still captivating the world today. Luckily, achieving a minimal design is fairly simple. Start by removing everything from the space and look for sharp edges. It may be the surrounding fence, a brick wall, or the edge of your pavers. Use these edges as the base for the garden design and frame them with negative space. In a garden, negative space can be accomplished using vast amounts of concrete, grass, render, gravel or timber. Finish the design with a multitude feature plants, timber and metal furniture or accents, and small pastel touches.

Plant selection is important in a Scandinavian inspired design, and (apart from space) is the only thing that should be in abundance! Plants should be a vibrant green in colour and rich in foliage. In a minimal design, greenery works best when it is overflowing from some of the surfaces, but also balanced against large areas of negative space. Consider installing vertical gardens, structured garden beds and large angular pots.

Scandinavian style outdoors garden design

For small balconies or courtyards the key to a minimal design is to turn a blank wall into a feature. Render the chosen wall in white or pale grey to give the illusion of space and use accents of timber or plants to create a focal point. To enhance the space, vertical timber cladding will add height, while horizontal will give the illusion of width. Use simple and small furnishings – bar tables or bench seats work really well as they are functional without intruding on the space. Stick to a monochromatic colour palate, using timber and plants to add a touch of softness.

Be sparse with elements and colour, and generous with space and light. Be sophisticated and have a bit of fun. Create a space that is minimal in design, but not so minimal in impact!


Alyce Tilley, Creative Director at Arden Design Co, has over 8 years training and experience in Graphic Design and Marketing, during which she has completed two University Degrees; Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) and Bachelor of Business (Management) and gained multinational experience. You can follow Alyce and Arden Design Co on Facebook HERE


All images used here are from Maxine and Karstan’s terrace from the Block Glasshouse season – shop their style HERE


Need some help bringing all your outdoor ideas into a proper garden design? Give Luke a call 0434 355 066 to book your FREE initial consultation, chat about your ideas and reinvent your outdoor experience today! Click HERE for a list of our services.