Grand Designs Live / Homes & Interiors

Interview: Ben Harrison on The Lounge Garden, Grand Designs Live 2014

After experiencing Ben Harrison’s entry into Grand Designs Live Garden Designer of the Year first hand at my last visit to the show in 2013, I was looking forward to seeing his contribution to this year’s London 2014 exhibition. The competition has fast become my favourite element of Grand Designs Live, and as expected, Ben’s garden didn’t disappoint.


Welcomed by a wealth of orange, from vibrant florals to clean, modern decking, ‘The Lounge Garden‘ was a bright delight, ready for summer. But aesthetics aside, what makes this garden special is the clever design which leaves it perfect for living in. After the show I had a chat with Ben, of BH Designs, to discuss his garden creation. lg91

Why ‘The Lounge Garden’?

The concept of ‘The Lounge Garden’ is simple; a functional space which is exciting to live in. Ben aimed to create ‘a familiar space, so people already know how to use it,’ using levels to designate separate areas with varying functions, all in a small area. Ben imagines the garden sitting with bi-folding doors opening on to the area, wanting to have a space which transitions effortlessly from inside to out.


His favourite element of the garden was the layout, incorporating a fixed seating area with dining table, a decking area accessorised with bean bags, a fridge and stylishly hidden storage! He found the garden ‘so easy to live with, I found myself living in it’ over his time at the Excel.

The functional elements of the garden include decking which can be vacuumed, much like an interior space. The layout planning made the garden a calm oasis in the bustle of the show, with places to sit, relax and dine amongst planted flowers. The small area of the show space inspired clever design which can be replicated at home. The garden has minimal maintenance, which Ben believes is important in peoples ever busy lives. 

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Eco elements

Ben’s last garden, ‘The Inside-Out Kitchen Garden’, was created from recycled goods with a strong upcycling ethos. Ben has stuck to his eco values, but taken a different view with this project. ‘Not everyone wants to upcycle’, he tells me, but people can be inspired to ‘think the way of the upcycler’. His project features ‘eco conscious choices’ while retaining a high-end design spec, using green mod cons and clever alternatives to commonly used materials.


Colourful florals

Introducing colour to the garden wasn’t just about the planting to Ben. He wanted something more permanent, and chose statement decking by SAiGE. This decking was available in a number of coloured finishes, but Ben chose orange, a popular colour of the season.


Having fun with vibrant planting was key to this garden, and Ben’s selection of flowers was joyful to sit in. The Geum family, specifically the Cocktail series of flowers, featured heavily in his planting scheme. ‘Totally Tangerine’ and ‘Alabama Slammer’, a popular choice at the Chelsea Flower Show later that month, were Ben’s favourites.


‘The Lounge Garden’ team

Ben had several collaborators on ‘The Lounge Garden’. SAiGE supplied the composite decking, the Aluminium planters were provided by Cocoon Systems, and Jamie Hubbard worked closely with Ben throughout the project. His team were ‘a dream to work with’, and helped make the project a success. Cocoon Systems were contacts met at the Birmingham Grand Designs Live show in 2013.lg94

Jamie Hubbard, an ex-boat builder who created bespoke artwork for the garden, is described as ‘invaluable’ by Ben. Each piece was designed to represent a different aspect of the Grand Designs Live experience. For example, the ‘G’ is made of small pieces of wood, representing the highs and lows of a self build, creating an interestingly textured piece.


The ‘X’ marks the 10th anniversary of the show, made of recycled bottles, fairy lights, and cuttings from the flyer from Ben’s last entry into the competition.


What next?

Ben’s highlight of the show was ‘meeting with people who have got projects and wanted input on them’. His garden was created to inspire eco choices and an easy way of living, and it seems that although he missed out on first place in the competition, his garden was a colourful inspiration to the show’s many visitors.

Ben now has his sights set on the RHS Young Garden Designer of the Year competition, and here at North Leads To Home we wish him the best of luck!

LG1Top 5 ‘Lounge Garden’ eco choices:

  1. The composite SAiGE decking was 95% recycled wood, 5% eco colour resin
  2. Recyclable Aluminium was the choice metal for recyclable planters
  3. The planters are designed to use a minimal amount of water in a sustainable manner
  4. The wood burning stove was upcycled from an old gas canister
  5. The Lounge Garden is created to last 25 years!

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