The distinction between outdoors and indoors has become blurred — and that’s not a bad development.
Certainly, in the next couple of months we should be throwing open our doors and windows, tilting our heads at the sun and heading out for much needed fresh air.
But some things seem to be heading in the other direction — such as swings and hammocks.
Child’s play: Any room can become fun with a swing or hammock hanging from the ceiling
Traditionally, a hammock hangs from one sturdy branch to another, a symbol of louche relaxation. And swings of all designs have been a popular garden feature for hundreds of years.
Now, turning convention on its head, swings and hammocks are increasingly popping up in living rooms and other social spaces, suspended from ceilings or frames as either a focal point of a room or as a curious addition to a room’s atmosphere.
‘Swings are an item of nostalgia, conjuring up the best childhood memories,’ says Charlotte Clemons of From The Oak Tree, a personalised oak gift company.
‘We have created swings for people’s homes to hang from beautiful beams, ceiling joists and frames. It offers an extra seat but also brings a sense of adventure to a home.’
If it is now wrong to assume that swings are just for the garden, it would also be incorrect to say that they are reserved for those who have large spaces.
In fact, they can help solve the opposite problem. Given that neither touches the ground, one’s eye travels through the item, meaning it will not add clutter to a room, or take up much space.
They are on the large side but a hammock offers more design options than a suspended swing
On the contrary, in a difficult room to decorate, for example in a long space, a swing can do the job of dividing without the need for walls.
Hannah Foster, owner of online boutique Gift Pop, is delighted with her indoor swing, a welcome addition to her recently-acquired industrial rural barn in Berkshire.
‘Happiness is the swing in our kitchen,’ she tells me from Berkshire, from where she runs her business. ‘Everyone who visits wants a go. I get to chat to the children for five minutes longer if they are on the swing.
‘As they need to hold on, they can’t be on a phone. Our swing has brought much joy.’
They are on the large size but a hammock offers a few more design options than a rope-suspended swing.
Sika Design’s hanging armchair (£445), Moda Furnishing’s ‘statement-making’ swing chair (£895) and Graham & Green’s Valencia tassel swing chair (£99) are three good ways to demonstrate how these whimsical additions are at once fresh, original and an unconventional talking point.
Hammocks also offer a way to introduce colour and soft accessories that can be individualised to any home.
It isn’t just suspended items: Ibbi Interiors’ charpoys (from £425) are ancient traditional sleeping surfaces from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
They are often known as khaats and have rectangular frames supported by wooden legs with a soft woven or jute top.
Traditionally, people slept on them, but they are now more commonly intended for social purposes. Ibbi Interiors has a range of unusual, yet charming, seating options for both inside and out.
So don’t let the garden hog your favourite furniture: just bring it indoors. It will work come rain or shine.
What your home really needs is… Gingham
Gingham is set to be one of the top homeware trends this spring and summer. Yes, the red-and-white tablecloth beloved of louche 1960s bistros is back.
Some believe the roots of the word gingham lie in the Malay language; others say it takes its name from Guingamp, a town in Brittany, where the fabric was made.
Scotts of Stow has a red and white tablecloth, (pictured), (£12.95 to £19.95, scottsof stow.co.uk)
Your home needs a gingham item now because it has a wholesome feel, while also looking contemporary.
Arlo & Jacob’s gingham Helena Sofa (£2,227) is sharp but comfortable.
However, your outlay on gingham need only be modest. Scotts of Stow has a red and white tablecloth (£12.95 to £19.95).
A blue and white gingham duvet cover costs from £17.50 to £38.50 from The Hut.
Williamson’s has gingham cushion covers in mint green, pink and other pastels (£3.99), springlike, but not sugary.