Now that the clocks have gone back, the dark winter nights can seem to go on for a long time, especially if you are leaving the house in the morning and coming home at night in the dark.
But rather than just sulking our way through these dark months, let’s brighten up our outdoor space by choosing some great outdoor lights to welcome us home at night.
A canopy of Christmas lights by Lights 4 Fun
Suspend a netting of outdoor fairy lights above the entrance to your front door to create a warm and welcoming walkway into your home. Set the lights on a timer, so that when you arrive home, it’s all been done for you. Who wouldn’t like to come home to this warm welcome?!
Luna Moon Outdoor Lights by Babatude
Line up a row of different sized outdoor lights along the pathway to your front door. Use storm lanterns with battery operated tea lights, or for something more impressive, check out these luna lights from Babatude.
Battery opertated fairy lights from Lights 4 Fun
Wind a string of fairy lights into topiary trees or plants and place them either side of your front door, or dot them around the garden. Choose weather proof, battery operated lights for a no-fuss solution. Green wired lights help them blend into the background during the day.
Starburst Lights by Lights 4 Fun
Veer away from traditional Christmas lighting by hanging a surprising quartet of starburst chandeliers outside your home. With twinkling settings, these are sure to welcome you home in style.
A range of Christmas Lights from Wilkinson
If you have little ones at home, or you just love the magic of Christmas, why not create a cosy grotto outside. Attach string lighting around your log store or shed, hang fairy lights from trees, and if you feel like pushing the boat out, throw in a woodland animal or stag head for good measure!
How will you be lighting your home for Christmas? Come and join us in our free Facebook group and share your lighting ideas for Christmas.
If you’ve been lucky like us recently with some fair weather, you will be turning your attention to the outside spaces of your home.
Creating a distinct area outside gives the feeling of a room, outdoors, and makes a great space for socialising and relaxing. Even if you have a small garden or your budget is tight, there are plenty of things that you can do to create a defined area, which becomes an extension of your home’s interior, outdoors.
Just like any room in your home, an outdoor room needs to be planned before you begin, so before you head off the DIY store to shop, let’s have a look at what you need to consider when designing an outdoor room.
Where you create your outdoor room will affect how successful it will be. Firstly, grab yourself a compass and look at the direction your garden faces. As we all know, south facing gardens are ideal for capturing the best sunlight, but if you don’t have a suitable south facing spot, you can still create a cosy nook elsewhere. Consider the focal point of your space too. If you have a fabulous view overlooking the countryside, position your outdoor space towards this view. If your view doesn’t face south, you’ll need to weigh up whether the view or the sun wins the day.
Pop Up Gazebo by Wyevale Garden Centres
Shelter is really important in an outside garden, either from the breeze in more northern climates, or from the sun if you are lucky enough to live somewhere warm. Shelter can be natural: if you have overhanging trees for example, this can create a canopy to shade you from the wind and sun, but if not, you can add artificial shelter through canopies, gazebos, privacy screens or simple windbreaks.
Zoning the space demarcates the area as a gathering place/ eating place/ whatever you want the space to be. You can zone the space in different ways: by creating a visible barrier such as fencing, gazebos, pergolas or even low-level hedges. Or you can simply demarcate the space by the use of flooring and furniture arrangement. Either way, think “courtyard” and treat your outdoor space just like you would an indoor space: with a clearly defined purpose and boundaries to match.
Just like an indoor room, an outdoor room needs flooring. If you are working on a budget, use rush matting, or even beach mats to demarcate the area. If you have more to spend, create a hardstanding area like a patio or deck, but even a gravel area works well, and can be created in a weekend.
Image courtesy of Design 3000
Even if you are surrounded by hedges and grass, bringing potted plants right up to your seating area really makes you feel like you are sitting in the heart of nature. Pot up some hardy outdoor plants, or even consider adding ‘living walls’ to your screens and walls. If you plant them up with herbs or hanging fruit you get double use out of your space.
Skagerak Helios Fire Bowl from Cloudberry Living
Especially if you live in the more northern parts of the world, adding a fire bowl or fire pit allows you to stay outside for longer as the evenings get chilly. Fire bowls start from as little as £20, or if you’re feeling brave, you can have a go at building your own!
Festoon Lights by Garden Trading
As the warmer weather comes along, sitting outside into the small hours means that outdoor lighting becomes a must-have. Outdoor lighting has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and there are lots of different options out there. Opt for strings of fairy lights and weave them through your pergola. Run storm lanterns down the centre of your table, and use solar powered stick lights dotted throughout your garden.
If you fancy making over your garden and you’re on a budget, try putting some of the ideas above into practice, and come and share with us your progress in our Facebook group. And if you really want to blow the budget, why not check out >> this post << of much pricier garden solutions for the summer. Well, I can dream, right?
Main Image: Coastal Living Range by Wyevale Garden Centres
Summer is well underway now, and for once, we actually seem to be having a bit of sunshine here in the UK (uh-oh, am I tempting fate here?!)
With all of this lovely weather, thoughts turn to making more of our outdoor spaces and, rather than looking to bring the outdoors in, we turn the tables and look for ways to bring the indoors out.
Summerhouses are a fantastic way of making use of the outdoor space. They have the advantage of being outside whilst still having protection from the elements and, for me, it also means yet another room to design and decorate. A win-win situation.
Summerhouses were traditionally intended as places of relaxation, but you can make them into more functional spaces by using them as a home office, artist’s studio, playroom or even a spare guest room.
So let’s have a little look at what’s out there, and what your differing budgets can buy you…
First up is this top of the range summerhouse from from Haddenstone. I say ‘summerhouse’, but strictly speaking, it’s actually an orangery, so you’ll be sure of keeping your fruit trees safe over the winter months. When a product is listed as POA (price on application) you know it’s going to be eye-wateringly expensive, but we can dream, eh?
Our next pick is this cute little painted summerhouse. Reminiscent of a cricket pavilion, you could just imagine yourself sitting here with a bowl of strawberries and cream, soaking up the sunshine. John Lewis have a nice range of pavilion summerhouses, although you’re still looking at around £8 – 10,000.
If you fancy something a little different, this Shepherd’s hut is from Garden Hideouts and retails at £24,950. This might sound like a lot, but the huts have surprisingly modern interiors, and they are kitted out with all the mod cons, including a fully fitted bathroom and mini-kitchen. It would certainly act as a holiday home for guests who are staying with you a little longer.
If you’re looking for a less-serious investment, even something as simple as a wooden shed can be glammed up to make a perfectly acceptable summer she-den or man-cave. This is an 8X6 Pent Shiplap Wooden Shed from B&Q and you can pick up something similar for around £500.
And finally if all of those options are out of your budget altogether well, there’s nothing wrong with a picnic basket, blanket and bottle of fizz as a last resort…
Whatever type of outdoor room you’re planning to make this summer, why not share your photos on our twitter page and share the love? Happy summer, everyone!
We spend a lot of time and effort making sure that the interiors of our homes are beautifully designed and welcoming to visitors. But sometimes, we neglect to pay the same attention to what lies outside. In fact, it’s often not until we come to sell our houses that we give much thought to how they look from the outside, when we realise that the front of our house is an advert for what buyers can expect inside.
But why wait until we sell our homes to make this area look as stunning on the outside as it is on the inside? With warmer weather on its way, what better time to invest some effort in giving the front of your house some much needed kerb appeal?
Here are 5 top tips to help you turn your exterior from drab to fab:
If your paint is flaking off, or looking a little tired, a quick way to liven it up is to grab yourself a paint brush and give your door a lick of fresh paint. When choosing a paint colour, make sure that you consider the style of the house, the period of the property and the surrounding features. A bright orange door on a Georgian property will look tasteless, and a purple door will look garish against a red brick wall, for example. Black is a popular choice, which looks timeless and elegant on almost all properties. Muted greens and blues often look good on a country property. The door above, for example, is painted with Farrow and Ball’s Card Room Green. Remember to sand and prime your door before starting for a professional finish.
There are many different choices when it comes to door furniture. From the ornate to the very simple, consider updating your door furniture if yours has seen better days. On painted doors, brass or chrome door options look smart, and for more rustic and wooden doors, cast iron door furniture fits in well. This lion knocker comes from B&Q and at just £15, it’s a cheap way to update your door.
Hanging a wreath is a really nice and cost-effective way to add some colour to your exterior. Choose blooms which match the flowers in your garden to tie everything together. I have several seasonal wreaths that I change at different times of the year: a main one for all year round, an Easter/Springtime wreath and a festive Christmas wreath. The wreath above is the Rose Garden Springtime by Gisela Graham, and you can get it from The Contemporary Home.
If you’re a dab hand with the secateurs, you might fancy having a go at creating some topiary shapes yourself. For the less green-fingered amongst us (and that most definitely includes me) there is thankfully a range of ready coiffured bushes to buy. The box ball (left) and standard bay (middle) both come from Trees Direct, and if you want to get yourself the Conifer Spiral (right), then head over to Sweetpea and WIllow. Don’t be tempted to mix and match though. Stick to buying an identical pair to sit either side of your front door for a smart, uniform look.
Adding some lighting to your exterior makes your home look welcoming and friendly. There are several ways to achieve this, from lanterns placed along your path to outdoor fairy lights strung through the trees. This no-nonsense door light is from Astro Lighting and retails at £200.
So, if you have some time over the coming weeks, take a look at the front of your house, and see what simple changes you could make to update and improve your kerb appeal. Why not tweet me your pics so that I can take a look?