How I transformed our scruffy patio into a gorgeous al fresco dining area
Did someone say sundowners? You can find me here for the foreseeable, for as long as this glorious summer continues. Preferably well into October. I'm not a winter person. Despite the fact that the sun and I are very much incompatible thanks to a little run in with the Big C earlier this year, I still love it. It's like an unsuitable boyfriend and I can't stay away.
When I say I can't stay away, don't worry, I'm not slapping on the baby oil and burning myself to a crisp in the midday sun. No, it's factor 50, a wide brimmed sunhat and shade all the way for me. But that doesn't stop me loving the warmth of these sunny days we've been blessed with. I love to be in the sun, without actually being IN the sun. Our house as it is doesn't really allow for that because our narrow galley kitchen has a small window at the end of it and a small door at the side which doesn't really give you that indoor/outdoor feel you would get if, for example, you had great big bifold doors opening onto your garden.
And that's why I set my heart on transforming our scruffy patio into a glorious outdoor dining room/lounge area, with the entirely necessary addition of an awning so that we could sit outside all day long working, eating, drinking, playing, instead of cowering from the suns rays inside.
So this is what we started with...
We have been making do with this rickety two seater table for two whole summers because I was busy with projects inside the house. But it's amazing what a scorching hot summer can do to propel the garden back up to the top of your priorities. We did tackle the upper part of the garden last year which you can read all about here.
Now it was time to deal with the lower bit. The most important bit for me was finding the right garden furniture. It had to be comfortable enough for us to lounge around on all day long if we wanted to, and big enough so that we could have a big group of friends over for lunch/sundowners. Finally it needed to look good. Obvs. I spent a long time looking for a set that I loved and which ticked all of these boxes. Maisons du Monde came up trumps in the style, quality and practicality stakes and I honed in on the Seoul corner sofa and table set, because it was giving me all of the St Tropez in South East London vibes, and what more of a reason does a girl need?
The cushions are suitable for outdoors but I'm going to buy a storage box to keep them in on rainy days and throughout the winter. And instead of buying new chairs, I recycled our old Eames replica dining chairs, which bring a bit of added sunshine, and it feels good to repurpose something we already owned.
With the dream al fresco dining set sorted, it was time to whip the rest of the space into shape, starting with that all important shade. The awning came in lots of different colour ways but remember I am channelling chic Riviera vibes here, so I ignored all the deckchair brights and went for the chic taupe stripe. It was such a good buy. Very reasonable, easy to put up (David did it in a couple of hours) and it's made a huge difference in smartening up the back of the house. It's also perfect for a shady lady like me!
I swapped out the existing chrome wall lights for some simple black up and down lights from Screwfix which let off a warm, cosy glow in the evening (they are also only £14.99 each!) And can you even call yourself an interiors blogger if you don't have a swag of festoons twinkling in the moonlight? I got our electrician to fit us an outdoor plug socket and hung mine along the fence, nestled in amongst my newly acquired jasmine plant. These ones have the option of being able to add more strings to them, so I am eventually planning to swag them all the way around the edge of the garden.
The semi-rendered wall at the end of the house is a product of years of shoddy workmanship unfortunately. It's a patchwork of dodgy plastering and brickwork. But the long term plan is to knock this out to make way for a side return extension, so I'm loathe to do anything major to improve it. However I did remove the ugly (and unused) hosepipe dispenser that was fixed to the wall and spruce the rendered part up with a fresh lick of paint and it looks so much better. Some times it's the little things!
Another really good way to cover up a wall that has seen better days is to add plants, which is something I've fully embraced here. I've used hanging plant pots with a mix of faux and real foliage on one wall, and I bought a gorgeous smelling jasmine plant for the other wall. The idea is that it will grow across the trellis and cover the whole area by next summer but it already looks and smells amazing as it is.
Finally I gave our paving stones a good scrub with some soapy water and added an outdoor rug which I bought from my local Carpetright. I'm really happy with the rug (especially for less than £40) but I'm afraid I can't recommend the Catford branch of Carpetright at all. The service was shocking, which is a shame.
So that's it! We're over the moon with our new outdoor room and have eaten out here every day since it's been finished. I'm actually kind of sad that we are going on our holidays to Costa del Cornwall next week because it means we won't be able to hang out here. That and the fact it's forecast to be rainy and cold. Boo!
The Seoul sofa and table was kindly gifted to me by Maisons Du Monde, and the festoon lights and lamp were gifted by Lights4fun.co.uk but I chose both items myself and would never promote a brand or product I didn't love (and I definitely wouldn't have it in my home!)