Garden antiques and art are 2021's big outdoor craze – here's what you need to know

Searches for antique furniture restoration are up by 250% – is it for you?

Designers react to garden antiques
(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Is the craze for bring antiques outdoors the most unusual gardening trend of recent times? 

According to design experts, we are on the edge of a new garden revolution – as gardeners are injecting remnants of the past into their exteriors, from sundials and statues to a unique salvaged treasures. 

See: Small garden ideas – clever designs for maximizing a compact gardening space

Antique fans have spent years filling their interiors with historical pieces, however, as Founder of Renaissance London, and leader of the garden revolution, Owen Pacey, suggests, it is time to continue this refined aesthetic into the great outdoors. 

‘We seem to be seeing more customers who live in cities and urban areas buying garden sculptures, and people with smaller garden spaces are also interested in pieces,’ Owen shares. 

Designers react to garden antiques - this seasons unconventional micro-trend

(Image credit: Owen Pacey)

‘Maybe this is down to the fact that everyone with an outdoor space, however small, is seeking to make it more special,' he adds.

Similarly, sculptor Andrew Kay emphasizes how garden art and antiques are not limited to rural gardens. Instead, urban homeowners are embracing this trend – opting for sculptures in their small garden spaces. 

  • See: Garden trends – all the latest looks and new ways to garden

In his argument for introducing antiques to your garden, Owen focuses particularly on architectural garden salvage, in which homeowners rejuvenate pre-loved pieces and give them new life in a contemporary garden.

Owen shares that ‘using architectural salvage as pieces of art can add character to outdoor spaces and provides an eco-friendly alternative to building and decorating with new materials. It has the ability to draw the eye. It can be cleverly designed to blend in with its surroundings and bring out the background.’

He continues: 'Even in a small garden, garden art will make the space feel as interesting as a living room or sitting room. Statues or sundials give the outdoors a full look – there should always be something to catch your eye. Even if your garden isn’t that big with large trees, nestling a statue among plants can create vignettes in your exterior.’

Antique garden table, designers react to garden antiques - this seasons unconventional micro-trend

(Image credit: Owen Pacey)

The expert then offered his top tip for those ready to experiment with introducing garden antiques, sharing: ‘My top tip for adding garden art to a smaller garden is to keep a consistent theme. Antiques and art are a way of expressing personality, and by including a treasure trove of found objects in a small garden or courtyard can help create a space that is full of character and brings a sense of history to a newer home.’

Nicola Harding, lead designer at Nicola Harding & Co, further praises antique garden furniture for their nostalgic qualities, that ‘lend a sense of history’ and create a ‘fairy-tale feel’.

‘It’s fun to combine old with new, and having a foot in both camps makes a space hard to date and therefore seem timeless – for example, a beautiful, worn wooden table combined with contemporary metal chairs would look both smart and romantic,’ Nicola adds. 

Designers react to garden antique

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

If you need a little more convincing, the British interior designer Matthew Williamson might just persuade you to embrace this antique-based trend. Matthew reminds us how antiques showcase our individuality, as they are ‘physical manifestations’ of memories, our passions, and ourselves. The designer encourages us to fill our space with ‘beautiful things’ to create a ‘unique, special place,’ which is something we are all searching for at present. 

‘I believe that the world of antiques and vintage can unlock new potential,’ Matthew shares, before suggesting how they create ‘an undiscovered personality that will reflect its owners’ unique lives, passions, humor, and style.’

He argues that as much as our homes and gardens need to be ‘a relaxing sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the world, it also needs to be a physical manifestation of the person you are. It needs to be as unique as you are.’

Designers react to garden antiques

(Image credit: Future / Debi Treloar)

The last argument in favor of antique garden furniture comes from Stefano Marinaz, Agronomist & Landscape Architect and Patron of Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, who reassures us that these pieces are important, as they create a ‘focal point in the garden.’ 

Stefano expands: ‘We have used garden art in many projects and have even introduced them to a client who didn’t have any art in the house – they were still happy for us to install it outside. It doesn’t matter how big or small your garden is – a sculpture is always something interesting to consider.’

See: Garden pond ideas – create a hypnotic water feature that’s just your style

You need to consider the size, the material, where it is located, and whether you should light your art at night. I often consider pairing art with a water feature, so that is maybe something to think about.’

If this group of designers are for garden antiques, who can surely be against them? We’re convinced this is going to be the summer of long evenings surrounded by antique gems. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.