A garden makeover can often get forgotten when you first move into a house in the rush to fine tune the interior. This is what happened with this property as the owners worked hard on transforming the interior. They added a stylish open-plan kitchen-diner but it was depressing to look out of the new patio doors on to their small and uninspiring outdoor space. Once they got going on transforming it with a few achievable tweaks they managed to sort the whole thing out themselves on a very reasonable budget.
Read on to find out how they did it then take a look at our garden design ideas for more ways to transform your own space.
The original garden and how it looked before
This tired space was long overdue a makeover. The side return was very visible from the new kitchen-diner and was an awkward space that felt really uninspiring, with discoloured paving slabs and an ugly 1970s patterned concrete wall. It ended up being an unused and unloved dumping ground for garden clutter that was unavoidable whichever way you looked. The back garden had some nice mature shrubs, which they wanted to keep and work into the new design, but not much else.
The plan for the redesign
The owners wanted to create a great space for socialising, so a great seating area was a must. As keen campers, they liked cooking and sitting around an open fire, so loved the idea of a permanent fire pit idea in the garden. The ugly concrete wall had to stay so it was covered with some sleek fencing made from roofing battens that were painted in on-trend black, which added a nice visual link with the black feature wall in the living room for a seamless indoor-outdoor living moment. A new path was added to improve access and contemporary planting together with some carefully chosen accessories helped to switch up the whole look.
Adding the key elements for socialising
Another indoor-outdoor link was the L-shaped bench seating that takes centre stage in their sociable garden, as well as adding crucial extra storage space. This new garden bench matched an L-shaped bench in the dining area indoors, and both were made by the owners which helped keep the budget down.The pretty cushions and throws can be stowed away when not in use to keep things tidy. They found a very affordable steel fire bowl on Amazon, then built a brick surround themselves. Pretty festoon lights and bulb sets hung from the stunning camellia tree add an ambient mood for alfresco get-togethers in the evening.
Want to have a go at making a DIY fire pit too? Head over to our guide on how to build a fire pit for our step-by-step instructions.
Designing a bespoke detail
Sleek log storage was added using the same paint that was chosen for the fence. This added continuity and kept the colour palette to a minimum, something that's a great option when considering small garden ideas to avoid things looking too busy. The owners had always wanted a log pile, so they built one themselves. As well as looking good it's perfect for storing the wood for the fire pit.
Transforming a tired concrete wall
The 70s style concrete wall was clad with roofing battens that were painted a dark colour to create impact and make the space feel more intimate. The clever garden fence ideas were further enhanced with pretty wall-mounted plant racks painted in the same colour. A path was needed for access to the side gate. The owners liked the idea of a winding design with a seaside-inspired boardwalk-style path, which was built using decking planks set in bleached white cobbles. You'll find more creative solutions for getting from A to B in our garden path ideas feature.
Introducing modern planting
Evergreen ferns and cool succulents potted up in simple containers adds a very modern look to the planting. You can find out how to grow succulents, both indoors and out, in our guide. Every last little bit of space was utilised. Some herb planters were created from offcuts of guttering that was planted up with thyme and hug over the back of the garden bench. Some of the original shrubs were kept to add structure and interest to the scheme.
Like what you've seen? Head over to our feature on how to plan your garden design for brilliant advice on creating your own dream space.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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