Blinging Up Your Outdoor Space - Five Easy Steps

I am very bad at gardening.  As a woman who cannot even keep a cactus alive, one of the main attractions when we viewed our house was the fact that it didn't have borders.  It has lawns at the front and side which need only mowing and it's hedged, so perfect for people like us who think a perennial is something that needs to be massaged before childbirth.

My courtyard.  Just in case you've never seen it before.

My courtyard.  Just in case you've never seen it before.

There's decking and a BBQ area that I'm going to transform into a Tiki Bar next year at the suggestion of @artynads and then steps down to two courtyard areas, one of which is completely enclosed.  If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I've spent many hours spamming you all with photographs of this project.  Unfortunately, due to the fact we live in England we've only managed to sit in it about three times but I often look at it through the rain out of the kitchen window, swear loudly and think how lovely it would be to use it more.  

No, it's not raining.  It's a miracle.

No, it's not raining.  It's a miracle.

These are my five easy steps to showing your outside space some love and making it bling.

Bring The Inside Out

One of the things I've learnt from being on Instagram and especially from our Scandinavian counterparts is that the trick to making your outside space look bloody amazing is to treat it as if it were an inside living room.  Check out the feed of @____jet who may well possibly be the Queen of Outdoor Styling.  Jet mixes textures and neutral colours to create the most perfect area that immediately makes you feel you want to sit and drink wine, something I think should be the main aim when creating your space.  Across the pond, the Americans have also got the art of the outdoors perfected to a fine art.  The fabulous feed of @nicholnaranjo even has an outdoor fireplace which means Nichol and her family can use the area year round.  What they've all realised and we here in the UK are just cottoning on to, is that nothing is a no no when it comes to styling outdoors.

The Queen of Outdoor Styling, @______jet 

The Queen of Outdoor Styling, @______jet 

Everyone needs an outdoor fireplace @nicholnaranjo

Everyone needs an outdoor fireplace @nicholnaranjo

It Doesn't Have To Cost Loads Of Money.  Obvs.

This year, I looked around for garden furniture for my own patio and was traumatised by the idea of buying a set that would be used so rarely the cost per use was equivalent to a weekly shop.   Spurred on by what I'd seen on Instagram and Pinterest, I did what I love doing best and I visited the Community Furniture Store in York where I immediately picked up a bamboo sofa and a huge revolving bamboo chair for £60.  Sure, the cushions looked as though someone may well have had a wee on them but I whipped them off and replaced them with my own. Voila!  An outdoor set for the price of dinner for two.  Scour eBay for similar.  You need storage or a rain cover if it's not made to be outside all the time.  One of Joe's favourite jobs is dragging it all in when it's raining.   Another plus that I have recently realised is that it can be used inside during the colder months which, let's face it, are significantly longer than the warmer ones.  My bargain B&M hanging chair is going into Ella's bedroom and the bamboo armchair into the living room for the winter months.  Multi tasking furniture.  It's a winner.

Bamboo furniture overload.

Bamboo furniture overload.

Zone It Out, Baby

No matter how big or small your space is, use every inch of the area.  Zone it as if you were zoning your living area.  A few years ago the only place you could buy an outdoor rug was from eBay via China (I know, I bought one) - this year there are loads of them about, whole websites dedicated to them.  Benuta has the most amazing selection and IKEA have jumped on the bandwagon and are doing them too.  I've been using them in my hallway but have now moved them outside and they really make the area gel together.  Move the furniture into different positions, arrange it as you would your living room.  

The UK Queen of Outdoor Styling @artynads

The UK Queen of Outdoor Styling @artynads

Light It Up

Good, subtle lighting makes an outside space.  The best investment I made when designing my courtyard was the festoon lighting.  I'd seen a picture on Pinterest and was obsessed with finding the same.  Whenever I post a photo on Instagram of the courtyard, the most common question is, where did I get the lights from?  The answer is @festivelightsltd and I have four 8m lengths connected together with one plug.  It works brilliantly, they are low voltage and weatherproof and when they are on they look magical.   I live in hope that one day the weather will be nice enough to be able to eat out under them.  I think there must be some weather rule that says that the UK only has good weather when you are on holiday.

You could be in Spain.  If you weren't in Yorkshire.

You could be in Spain.  If you weren't in Yorkshire.

Faffage Is Essential

So, if you are treating your outside area as you would your inside area, then you need to be faffing.  As we all know, faffing is the ultimate in interior fun.  So bring out the coffee table.  Bring out your plants, your cactus, your cheese plant.  Bling it up big time.  Use pictures, mirrors, side tables.  Use throws and cushions on your outdoor furniture.  Wheel out your drinks trolley or create a bar table so you can party without having to move anywhere.  

If Heineken created outdoor areas.  Totally stunning outdoor bed @marciekdesigns

If Heineken created outdoor areas.  Totally stunning outdoor bed @marciekdesigns

So bring out that furniture!  Bank Holiday weekend is approaching and allegedly the sun is going to shine.  I'll be dragging my bamboo set out of the shed and blinging it up to within an inch of it's life.  Outdoor faffing is the way forward.