How To Create Your Very Own Outdoor Bar #UKHomeBlogHop

Hello to everyone who has joined me from the lovely Carole at Mademoiselle Poirot on the Summer Style #UKHomeBlogHop!  It's been fabulous to read everyone's posts and even more fabulous to gain so much inspiration from the UK's top interiors bloggers.  Lots of thanks to the gorgeous Kimberley from Swoon Worthy who has orchestrated the first UK blog hop of the year.  To start the trail, go to Kimberley's blog and hop through the posts from the 27 bloggers taking part over the course of this week - it's great fun to see the different styles and to see how everyone is styling their own homes this Summer!

A nice place to relax with a glass of wine.

A nice place to relax with a glass of wine.

If you are not a regular reader of my blog, my name is Lisa Dawson and I live in York with my husband Joe and my three children Ella, Max and Leo.  I am a complete interiors obsessive and I write a weekly interiors blog focused on styling your home on a budget.  I also run monthly Styling Your Home workshops across the country, promoting the idea that your home should be filled only with things that you love.  I am addicted to vintage, upcycling and, most importantly, decorating my home which I revamp on a regular basis!

The outdoor bar ready for drinks and fun.

The outdoor bar ready for drinks and fun.

Anyway, for this particular blog post  and in keeping with the Summer Style theme, I decided on a project that I've wanted to do for ages - to create a cool, cosmopolitan and comfortable outdoor bar area in the middle of the North Yorkshire countryside.  The perfect place for one, in my book.

When we came to view this house, my children got ridiculously excited about what they thought was a hot tub in the garden.  It quickly became apparent that it was, in fact, very unexcitingly, a BBQ storage area.  It didn't have quite the same ring to it.  Personally, I was quite relieved as I have some major hot tub OCD issues (this extends to public swimming pools, it's not very good for my social life, tbh).  

This BBQ storage area was crying out for attention and it's position in the garden meant it was ideal as a party hub.  So how did I transform what was some dodgy bits of decking into a tropical oasis in York overlooking the A166 to Bridlington?  This is what I did.

The BBQ area before shot, not to be mistaken for a hot tub.

The BBQ area before shot, not to be mistaken for a hot tub.

Got Out The Paintbrush

The BBQ area is situated on the decking.  It's basically created from pieces of decking with struts behind to hold it in place.  I am not blessed with a husband who is good at DIY but I would imagine that if your partner is even vaguely handy with a screwdriver, then this is something that you would be able to recreate without too much difficulty.  It's quite a big space that holds a gas BBQ and a Weber and it backs on to a wall covered fortuitously in the neighbours honeysuckle, a great benefit as our own garden has only laurel bushes and nothing else.  

I'm not sure that our neighbours would be totally happy about us taking advantage of their gardening prowess.  When we moved here two years ago, it took just three weeks for a huge row to erupt about the boys football going over the wall which culminated in our neighbour accusing Joe of instigating a heart attack.  So let's just say that they don't often pop around for a cup of tea.

The after shot after slapping on the  Frenchic  Greyhound.

The after shot after slapping on the Frenchic Greyhound.


The decking bar was natural wood so I decided to paint it grey.  Luckily for me, Frenchic Furniture Paint have a brand new Al Fresco range that can be used outdoors and just last week they announced a new colour - Greyhound.  This was absolutely perfect for the look I was going for so I slapped it on.

If you haven't used Frenchic before, I would highly recommend.  It's eco friendly, there's no smell and the ingredients are all listed on the tin.  Plus it goes on like a dream with no drips.  Perfect.  It took me about 20 minutes to finish the job and transform what was a grotty BBQ pit into a bar worthy of cocktail sipping.

Joe getting his drill out doesn't happen often.

Joe getting his drill out doesn't happen often.

Convinced Joe To Get His Drill Out

I was obsessed with finding a scaffolding board to put up on the brick wall as a shelf.  I knew that this would be perfect for the gin bottles plus great for display.  You can never have too many areas for styling purposes, in my opinion.  

To start with, I went on to eBay and ordered two iron brackets 225mm wide (a standard scaffold shelf width) for £15.99.  Next, I met my friend Claire for coffee and off we went to the salvage yard, a place previously unvisited but where I am now going to be a regular.  Unfortunately, it was peeing it down with rain and I was, as usual, totally unsuitably dressed for scrambling through old loos and skips in culottes, Superstars and no coat.  I never get it right when it comes to dressing for the weather.  Anyway, we found a scaffold board plus very excitingly, two old wooden stepladders.  A bargain at £15 for all three.

Old stepladders are perfect for festoons and plants.

Old stepladders are perfect for festoons and plants.

I gave Joe the standard DIY task warning of five days notice.  Saturday came and he grudgingly got his drill out and erected the shelf.  I'm not going to say it was a great job and I'm not going to say that he didn't swear like Roy Chubby Brown, but it's up and that's all that matters.  And what's more, it's level which is a minor miracle.  Allegedly.

Lots of festoons and fairy lights make the space light up and look pretty too.

Lots of festoons and fairy lights make the space light up and look pretty too.

Let There Be Light

Now, you can't have an outdoor social area without outdoor lighting.  After a terrible incident in the winter which occurred due to the lack of outdoor lighting involving Joe, a BBQ party and a bottle of super strength Tanqueray, I knew that this needed to be an important part of the project.

Festive Lights came to my rescue.  Two hanging solar lanterns looked perfect at either end of the shelf and glass tea light holders added extra prettiness.  A battery operated light up BAR sign was the perfect touch.

To the front of the bar, I added dragonfly fairy lights which were battery powered.  There's a seating area next to the bar so I put industrial style tulip and globe drop festoon lights above the sofa which looked fab and gave off loads of light.  To finish off, I draped battery operated festoons between the shelf and the seating area to tie it all together.  Job done.  NB:  If you use code LDOUTSIDE you'll get a 10% discount on their site until the end of July.

Sheepskins.  Perfect for keeping you warm in Arctic northern weather conditions.

Sheepskins.  Perfect for keeping you warm in Arctic northern weather conditions.

Did The Whole Inside/Outside Thing

So there were two areas to furnish.  The first was the bar, so I brought out two of the metal stools that we have in the kitchen and put them alongside where they looked as if they were made to be.  The second area was the seating bit next to it - I already had a bamboo sofa that I had picked up last year so I went off to the Community Furniture Warehouse to see if I could find something else that was suitable to add.  

I struck gold when I found an IKEA Knopparp in perfect condition for £30.  It has a metal frame and plastic sling seating so was perfect for leaving outside for short lengths of time.  I dragged out the bamboo coffee table and my two rattan side tables and it all started to come together.

I wanted a big basket to put my palm in but everything I saw was way too pricey.  So I went to the bathroom section of Homesense and voila.  A perfect and huge basket for £19.99.  

These cushions from Sweetpea & Willow are perfect for inside and outside.

These cushions from Sweetpea & Willow are perfect for inside and outside.

Brought In Textures

So in my mind, an outside room needs a carpet to bring it all together.  I used two plastic rugs that I bought last year in Homesense and overlapped them with a jute rug, also from Homesense, that I normally use inside.   They contrasted really well so I was quite pleased with the look.  I love a colour clash. These rugs are everywhere now, there are lots online to choose from in all sorts of colours, whether you are going for Scandi monochrome or Boho chic.

I covered the IKEA sofa in gorgeous Icelandic sheepskins from Cowboy Kate which immediately took my game up a notch.  These sheepskins are super warm and soft but the best thing about them is that you can use them basically anywhere.  They can transform what is basically a boring bit of furniture into something luxe.

Beautiful monochrome fringed cushions from the lovely Sweetpea & Willow completed the look.  These were a really practical choice as they are perfect for using inside the house once the Summer is over. Which, let's face it, could be next week.

Chunky Fleur glassware is perfect for outside dining.

Chunky Fleur glassware is perfect for outside dining.

Styled It Up

Now for my favourite bit.  I dragged out a couple of palms from my sitting room to create that tropical feel (not an easy job in Yorkshire), plus some trailing ivy which I placed on the shelves and on the ladders.  Out came the Homesense grass bunny - perfect in a garden setting - and a pretty tray for the table.

I wanted some glassware that was suitable for outdoors (but not plastic) so it needed to be chunky.  I found some gorgeous Fleur wine glasses and tumblers with a matching pitcher from Wayfair that were perfect for the look that I wanted.  They are really heavy and beautifully embossed.  Unlike regular thin stemmed glasses, they won't be knocked over when Force Ten gales hit my patio area.  Plus the tumblers are perfect for G&T's.

It was all coming together rather nicely.

Gin and wine. The ideal bar ingredients to finish it off.

Gin and wine. The ideal bar ingredients to finish it off.

And Finally...

A bar isn't a bar without drinks, so I added gin, prosecco and wine to the shelves, plus a Kilner drinks dispenser.  

Behind the scenes, I put a small table with room to store tonic water and an ice bucket so that all the essentials were to hand.  Now, I just need to add a bottle opener to the wall and my work here is done.

So at minimal expense and, to be honest, work, I'd created an outdoor area for socialising that was comfortable, relaxing and really quite cool.  It obviously isn't practical to have this as a permanent year round set up in our UK climate, but it only takes ten minutes or so to bring the extras out and it's well worth the effort.  

I was super happy with the result and we celebrated with a BBQ where we took full advantage of the bar facilities.  And the Cowboy Kate sheepskins which kept us warm and cosy when the sun went down (Yorkshire, remember).  

I hope that you like my newly revamped outdoor space!  Any comments are very much appreciated.  Now, hop on over to Lust Living where the lovely Olivia will be showing you how she styles for Summer.  All the links for the hop are below - do start at the beginning with Kimberley from Swoon Worthy so you get your full inspo quota!

And a big thank you to my sponsors for this post:  Sweetpea & Willow, Wayfair, Frenchic, Cowboy Kate Outpost and Festive Lights.  


Swoon Worthy

Apartment No. 4

The Ordinary Lovely

French for Pineapple

Dear Designer

Seasons in Colour


Melanie Lissack Interiors

Candy Pop

Sarah Akwisombe

Design Soda

Around The Houses

Lazy Daisy Jones


Old Fashioned Susie

Mademoiselle Poirot

Lisa Dawson Styling

Lust Living

The Pink House


Fabric of My Life

Making Spaces

Ana Mum Diary

A Beautiful Space

We Love Home


Renovation Bay-Bee

Fresh Design Blog

Don't Cramp My Style

Well I Guess This is Growing Up

Tidy Life