The sun is out: catch it while you can because it’s probably for a limited time only. Not like last year, aka The Best Summer In Living History. (At least for those of us born after 1976. Those who were around for 1976 do like to harp on about how that was the best summer in living history, like it’s some sort of Top Trumps heatwave game.)
Is your garden a little lacklustre? Is your roof terrace filled with bits of broken chair and an old chest of drawers that needs carrying downstairs so that you can drive it to the tip? Is your once-cute courtyard basically just a dog loo? If the answer to any of the aforementioned questions is yes, then read on. I have some incredibly quick and easy ways to transform your outside space.
None of the following ideas require electricians, builders, landscapers or even any sort of manual labour; just click, buy and jazz up your al fresco area. Instant improvement and – if you’re renting – it can all be transported to your next home if and when you move. Hurray!
We’re having building work done (gluttons for punishment) and the electrician asked if we want cables run through the ground to have accent lights on trees and/or Barry the Iron Giant. It sounded like a royal pain in the arse to me so I started researching solar lights. Not the crap ones you get at the well-known cut-price supermarket chains, but proper lights with big solar panels that – when charged – rival the output of a mains powered lamp. I’ve just bought this one to light up Barry the Giant, but I’m going back in for more so that I can dramatically illuminate my massive beech trees and make it look as though I live in a swanky hotel.
Seriously, though, you can create beautiful outdoor rooms with the right lighting – places you’ll want to squirrel away to and have a glass of wine and a chat. And I think solar lighting is clever because it’s automatically “on” when the sun goes down, meaning that your outside room will entice you and keep reminding you that it’s there. I love these festoon lights from the Solar Centre.
Just add a little bench and some cushions and you’ve got yourself an extra living room.
Seashell Seat Pads
Talking of cushions – how clever are these? Luxury water repellant pads that, when placed upon any chair or bench, form a gorgeous seashell seat.
It’s the sort of cool whimsy and kitsch that really appeals to me and I love that you can pep up a boring metal chair and turn it into something fabulous. These are from the innovative brand Garden Glory and you can find them at Amara here*. If you’re a new Amara customer then you can usually get £20 off your first order so keep a lookout for the pop-up form.
Windows into Another World
Fancy creating a portal into another universe? Or at least giving the impression of more space, or of another (identical) section of garden just behind your back wall? Well then, garden mirrors are your friend. They bounce light, they have that whole indoors-outdoors vibe and they make small areas feel more spacious. I’m particularly fond of mirrors that look like windows – I may have to nab this one with shutters for the wall beside my fig tree!
Al Fresco Sleeping
An outdoor mattress – where an earth has this been all my life? I saw it on Rosie Londoner’s blog and couldn’t believe what a great idea it was; if you hate sun loungers and find them too bulky and cumbersome then this is surely the best alternative. It’s actually a lounger cushion, but a double one and I’ve never thought about using one as a mattress straight on the ground before. A world away from lying on a picnic blanket, easier to store than a sunbed (you could brush it off and slide it under your real bed inside for the winter months) and if you have a lawn to lie on then this will look casual and inviting but with an ultra-chic edge. You can find it at Cox & Cox here* – I’ve looked for budget alternatives but haven’t found any that I actually like. Suggestions below in the comments if you see any on your online travels!