13 cosy garden ideas to transform your garden into an extra family room this winter

Winter might be here but these cosy garden ideas will allow you to make the most of your outdoor space whatever the weather

Fire pit on decking with garden seating
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Cosy garden ideas neatly sum up our shifting attitudes to using our outdoor spaces all year round. There is something instantly luxurious about them, inspired by outdoor seating in ski resorts or cosy campfires in Scandinavian countries. 

In Autumn we saw the cosy garden trend take off on Pinterest with a 197% increase in garden ideas that make us feel warm and snug. However, this is a garden trend we expect to see sticking around for a long time. 

‘Most of us associate barbecuing with a scorching hot day but inviting your friends over for an outdoor dinner party during winter can be just as enjoyable. There’s nothing quite like wrapping up in blankets and gathering around a roaring fire during the colder months,’ says Declan Kingsley-Walsh, MD at MORSØ UK.

‘Whether you’re holding on to that end-of-summer warmth or keeping cosy in winter, it’s all about treating your garden as another room in your home. Create a dedicated outdoor space to relax, unwind and enjoy those chilly evenings under a blanket, making sure everything’s within reach,’ says Samuel Platt, Creative Design Manager at Homebase.

Cosy garden ideas

Other than tracking down the best fire pits and solar lighting ideas to transform our backyards into cosy hangout spot of our dreams, then, how can we ramp up the comfort levels? 

1. Choose the perfect corner

Wooden fence with bench and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Jane Watson)

Planning a cosy garden space that you will use all year round rests on choosing the perfect spot that will get warmth all year round, and is sheltered from the elements. 

'Choose the spot carefully,' says Samuel. 'Look for where the sun sets later to make the most of the warmth, then use bamboo screens to give protection from the wind - the enclosed feeling will create a more intimate vibe.'

2. Choose warm lighting

outdoor seating area with chairs and fire pit

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

When the days are shorter, garden lighting ideas are is essential to a cosy garden corner. However, the key to making it work is to opt for a warm glow, over bright white lights and to hang them at eye level. Think of them the same way you'd consider a cosy lighting scheme in a living room. 

‘Creating ambience during the colder months all starts with the lighting,’ agrees Samuel. ‘Choose bulbs with a warm glow and make them low-level for an intimate effect. Festoon and string lighting is also a great way to create a seasonal effect.’

Lights4fun has a beautiful range of festoon lights, for add cosiness consider investing in some battery-powered candles too.

3. Integrate outdoor lamps

Fire pit on decking with garden seating

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Outdoor lamps were a trend that took off over the summer and they're perfect for winter too. Invest in solar-powered lamps that can be scattered on tables and along paths. 

When planning your lighting outdoors Sara Bird, Stylist and Author of Retreats for the Soul says to first 'consider where you will need task lighting and what the desired atmosphere is for each area and any other requirements. 

'Finish with starry-eyed details from joyous festoons to dreamy lanterns and overhead spots. Solar-powered lights are a great renewable alternative and today modern technology makes for better battery power. Candles and tealights are a great way to bring atmosphere too,' she adds. 

4. Create a plant hug

Garden with a raised flowerbed with alliums and grasses, seating area, patio and house in the background. The garden of a four bedroom Victorian house in North London, home of Tracey James and Paul Roye and their three adult children.

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd/Photoworld Ltd)

You don't need to splurge on an outdoor structure: instead, use container garden ideas to create a shelter for you.

'You can create a plant hug by positioning pots and raised beds/planters around a seating area to make a secluded space,' says Zoe Claymore, who recently won a gold medal at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

'Select containers so that planting is at eye height to give you a sense of seclusion and "cosiness". Be sure to choose some transportable garden lighting, too, and keep any chills at bay by investing in an outdoor blanket or two for you and your friends!'

Zoe Claymore - headshot
Zoe Claymore

Zoe Claymore is a multi award winning garden designer based in London. She focuses on creating outdoor places with emotional connection and ecological integrity, for her private and commercial clients.

5. Invest in a fire pit

garden area with wooden bench and fire pit

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

All of our garden designers are in agreement: adding a fire pit idea is an instant source of cosiness for any garden.

'There are a number of benefits to having a fire pit, including bringing the comfort and cosiness of an open fire to the garden and adding a focal point to your garden where you can sit, relax and lap up the heat from the flames,' explains Natalie Carton, furniture and home accessories buyer at Fenwick

Of course, an important thing to consider when adding a firepit to your garden is the design scheme. 'If you’re redesigning your garden or fully landscaping the space, it can be a good idea to build around your firepit.'

'I always create a cosy circle around the firepit when I have guests over. It keeps the heat contained and makes a beautiful focal point for the space,’ says Samuel. ‘Try adding different types of seats, such as L-shaped sofas, recliners or deckchairs so that everyone has a choice.’

6. Try a corten steel bowl

Gravel area in garden with industrial fire pit and two chairs with blankets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Not convinced by a traditional fire pit? Try a corten steel fire bowl instead.

'It is a great addition to your garden if you are hoping for extra warmth on colder days, and a more stylish option,' promises garden designer Jacquie Felix-Mitchell.

'Plus, it gently rusts over time, so will give your outdoor space an instant up-to-the-minute feel.'

A photo of Jacquie Felix-Mitchell smiling from behind a tropical plant
Jacquie Felix-Mitchell

Jacquie Felix-Mitchell specialises in oasis-style gardens and often works hard to blend architectural plants with a sense of the tropical with well-loved English cottage garden favourites, creating something modern and exciting in the process. Jacquie also delivers virtual and in-person talks at events and for various clubs and societies, not to mention runs design workshops for small groups on request. 

7. Transform your greenhouse

Green house with bench and cushions

(Image credit: Hartley Botanic)

A greenhouse doesn't just have to be a greenhouse, you know: you can transform yours into a show-stopping dining area. 

'Get yourself a greenhouse with space for a bench or chair and table set,' advises Zoe. 'This means even on wet or cooler days you can have somewhere with a pleasant temperature that is dry to sit outside and feel connected to your garden.' 

'If you have the space, get a greenhouse big enough for a few people and then you can entertain friends and family outside the balmy summer nights in your garden.' 

8. Build a pergola

Garden bench under wooden awning

(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Lee Photography)

It's time to dig out those pergola ideas you've been pinning nonstop, as garden designer Jacquie Felix-Mitchell has this beloved wooden structure pegged as a cosy garden must-have.

'Build a pergola so that you have a cosy place to sit even on the rainiest of summer's days,' she says. 

To really ramp up the snug vibes, Jacquie suggests you 'place your pergola in a spot with views of pretty planting, keep seating lovely and relaxed, and maybe throw in a blanket or cushion or two.'

9. Relax in a hot spa bath

Tin bath from indigenous in a garden

(Image credit: Mark Anthony Fox / Indigenous)

'For anyone wishing to have "everyday luxury", a (wood fire) spa-bath is a great place to relax in the garden, and gather as a family, to look up at the stars on a clear evening,' says garden designer Annika Zetterman.

Whether it's a tin bath (like the one seen above, available for £2,630 at Indigenous), or a classic hot tub, taking a bath 'in the fresh air is an excellent stress relief, a cosy place, which takes your mind away from daily routines and tasks,' explains Annika.

Annika Zetterman's headshot
Annika Zetterman

Annika Zetterman is a Swedish garden designer, as well as the author of the book 'New Nordic Gardens: Scandinavian Landscape Design'. She is also the founder of Zetterman Garden Design, and regularly gives lectures on garden design in both Sweden and abroad. 

10. Build yourself a garden room

Cosy seating in an outdoor room in Ashburton

(Image credit: Jacquie Felix-Mitchell)

If you have the funds (and space), it's definitely worth considering whether or not an outdoor room is right for you.

'Go one better than a pergola by transforming your wooden structure into an undercover outdoor room,' says garden designer Jacquie.

'Make sure you include a long table for outdoor dining, as well as relaxed seating for a warming drink or two.'

11. Layer up blankets

bench outside blue house

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You can create a cosy effect in your garden simply by investing in some gorgeous soft furnishings, such as blankets, rugs, and cushions. 

'Add a cover to any pergolas, and bring out warm blankets and big, fluffy pillows that keep you warm and sheltered,' suggests garden designer Annika. 

Layer up faux rug rugs on benches and chairs, topped with fluffy cushions and wool blankets. To make sure they stay in good condition make sure you have a dedicated storage box to keep them nice and dry in when not in use.

12. Plant evergreens

Outdoor seating around firepit with festoon lighting

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

Pine trees and conifers are perfectly adapted for the cold weather, adding some much sought-after green throughout the winter. Plant some around your garden for little pockets of shelter and warmth when the colder seasons take hold (or use as edging around your plant hug!).

13. Invest in a patio heater

chiminea firepit beside outdoor sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason)

Spending time outside shouldn't be dependent on the temperature: armed with the right jumper and an outdoor heating idea you can enjoy your cosy garden all year round. 

There is a huge range of different ways to heat a garden: we've already covered the statement firepit, but a chimenea or the best patio heaters can be a more discreet option, especially for a family not keen on the idea of an open flame. Either way, it's worth exploring garden discount codes to minimise your outright investment.

But we'd still recommend you make as the Swedish do, and 'wrap up, bring out both woollen socks, hats and scarfs, and a hot drink,' too. 


How do you make a cosy garden?

To create a cosy garden, you need to build pockets of shelter – whether that's using a pergola, upcycling your greenhouse, or simply getting clever with your planting ideas (all hail the power of the plant hug!). Dark fences and solar lighting will instantly invoke a warm ambient feel in the evenings, and, if you have the funds, a fire pit is a brilliant centrepiece for your outdoor seating area.

What does koselig mean?

Koselig is so much more than another hygge. Loosely translating as 'cosy', it refers to the Nordic trend of being outdoors with loved ones as much as possible, in a bid to boost their sense of emotional and physical wellbeing.

Basically, it's all about fostering human connection whilst embracing everything that nature has to offer – even when it's chilly. Think hot chocolates taken outdoors, crisp walks in the winter sun, and late night hangouts around a fire pit.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.