Rustic outdoor living

Spectacular outdoor living spaces designed to be enjoyed throughout the year.

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2020 brought with it a completely new set of entertaining demands, not least, that socialising should be done in small groups and preferably outside... cue an unprecedented increase in the demand for outside living space.

An outside living 'room' can take many forms and perform multiple functions depending on the space and location. In warmer climes, most terraces are designed to offer some form of shade - often timber or metal frames covered in vine, straw or cane. The changing British weather, however, requires a more robust and rainproof solution that ideally incorporates a heat source.

Having built a variety of pool houses, pavilions and pergolas of the Mediterranean ilk, the Barr Group have perfected a number of UK climate busting tricks that we incorporate into our designs.

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The Asher House Pavilion, designed by HollandGreen Architects, with finish specification and styling by Lara Clarke interiors sits poolside with a view across rolling Oxfordshire fields. It is attached to the main house but can only be accessed from the garden, via an internal window - which one imagines would serve as the perfect entertaining hatch.

A Cotswold stone plinth, matched to that of the main house, supports the reclaimed chunky timber, handpicked by the Barr Build team - forming the frame of the solid 'old barn style’ structure. A traditional tiled roof and guttering mean that it is usable in all weather and a wood burner keeps its outside diners cosy on cooler evenings. Rustic furnishings give it a warm homely feel, with large window mirrors reflecting the pool and the stunning wild planting beyond.

Not much further afield, William Morris House exhibits a more contemporary version, this one designed as part of a wider extension and renovation project by Smallwood Architects. The structure allows for covered open-air dining, but happily doubles as a covered outdoor gym, games room or party barn. The conventional tiled roof incorporates a glazed section and the two closed sides provide a room-like feel. The terrace flagstones run seamlessly from inside out - enabling a quick shift of venue to ‘indoors’ should the heavens open!

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“The terrace flagstones run seamlessly from inside out - enabling a quick shift of venue to ‘indoors’ should the heavens open”

The Villa Mariposa pergola and surrounding hard landscaping was designed by Barr Baleares architect Luis Fernandez Lao. Our clients brief was for a designated outside eating space which provided shade whilst still maximising the fabulous view. A woven straw cover let's infrequent rain showers dissipate through negating the need for more structural solutions. Its rustic form is typically Mallorquin and perfect for the Balearic climate, enhancing the simply renovated Finca to which it belongs. Timber struts frame the view, making a moving picture of the Serra de Tramuntana mountainside.

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Casa La Loma takes the outside living room concept to its max offering dining and lounging space, as well as the fully-equipped outdoor kitchen - complete with sink, griddle, storage and open shelving. The exposed matt black steel frame is lined with oak boarding which sits beneath traditional Mallorquin clay tiles. Designed by Rachele Bowley of Last Interior Design the joy is in the detail. As always, no stone is left unturned!

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Finally, the serene covered terraces of Casa Sol, designed and styled by owner Camilla Faulkner (of Interior Facelift). No fewer than three covered ‘rooms’ are beautifully curated for lounging, dining, entertaining or sleeping, making outside living a lux necessity. Structural arches and outside windows frame views and section spaces. Limestone tiles and soft plaster walls run seamlessly throughout allowing the outside spaces to become an extension of the villa.

Whatever the climate, one thing is for sure, outside living and entertaining spaces brought some much needed social feasibility to 2020. This is a trend which seems to be bedding according to Barr Group's prospective build projects. Alongside home gyms, spas, pools - as well as, of course, the annexe boom, the outside snug looks like it has some exciting design-led mileage.

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