Where's The Sun? Ten Ways To Boost Your Weekend Without The Weather
Okay, so seriously, what is going on? This time last year, Facebook has been telling me via regular memory updates, the sun was out, we were slapping on the suntan lotion and basking in our hanging chairs with a glass of cold rose. As I write this, it’s the 14 June, it’s barely twelve degrees, the dog refuses to go outside as he doesn’t like to get wet and I’ve just put the heating on. I’m wearing an actual woollen jumper to work in and the only drinking implement in my hands is a cup of peppermint tea (who even am I?). WTF. And more importantly, work has stopped play on my garden gin/cava platform due to torrential rain #priorities. I made the transition from boots to sandals over a month ago - once they’re put away, they’re not coming out again until October. As a result, I’m wearing socks with my Birkenstocks. Always a good look.
It’s always disappointing if you have an outside space and the weather fails you. Not only can we not get out and enjoy our own gardens, but it puts paid to all the fun stuff that summer brings. Only last week, Joe collected Ella from Parklife in Manchester looking like she’d spent three weeks at Glastonbury, soaked to her skin with only an Alton Towers stylie plastic rain poncho for protection against the buffeting winds. When all we want to be doing is enjoying lighter evenings, we’re inside with a blanket watching Love Island. Okay, maybe things aren't THAT bad.
Anyway, in the interests of positive thinking, I’ve decided to list ten ways in which you can boost your weekend when the weather renders us incapable of sitting in the garden with a cold glass of wine and nibbles. And most importantly, things that you can do without spending barely a penny. Well, maybe a few quid but most of these are as free as the wind. Here are my top tips for adding bit of summer sun and happiness to your home as quick as a flash. Hopefully not of lightening, but you never know in Yorkshire.
1. Get Out The Paintbrush.
Even the gloomiest day can be made to feel brighter with a slap of paint. Find a small project - maybe the downstairs loo or a feature wall. Find the job that you’ve been putting off for ages and transform a corner of your home. One of my favourite all time Sunday projects was the rewallpapering of our downstairs loo. Previously burgundy flock (yes, this is a thing), I woke at 9am, stripped it by 10am and was home and back from B&Q by 11am.
Armed with a shoe brush (I’d omitted to buy a wallpaper paste brush during my whistle stop shop), two rolls of Julian MacDonald Honolulu and a pot of ready mixed paste, the job was done by 4pm and looked bloody amazeballs. Even I say so myself. Not bad for a first attempt, anyway, if visitors don’t look TOO closely.
2. Have A Shelfie Reshuffle
This mini project never fails to refresh a room. Remove all the accessories from your space and place them centre stage. Assess them with a critical eye. Do you even like that Toby jug? Are you over the flamingo neon? Are you still feeling the love for the palm tree print? Remove everything that no longer brings you the joy - send it to the charity shop, sell it on eBay or Freecycle it to be used again.
Shop your home for other bits that might suit the room. Add in a few new buys if you feel like it - maybe a vase or a plant. Restyle the shelves or the coffee table to give it a new look. Stack up the books, prop up a print and add some greenery to up the ante.
3. Get Upcycling
Upcycling is another quick yet strangely satisfying task - find a piece of furniture you’ve lost the love for and give it some TLC by painting or wallpapering it and adding new handles. My favourite upcycle is the sideboard in my hallway which I picked up on eBay for £5 a few years ago. I cleaned the glass doors and wallpapered inside using the same Honolulu wallpaper. It didn’t take more than a few hours but transformed it from what was a write off of a unit into the perfect space for storing my twelve year collection of interior magazines.
4. Hit The Charity Shops
Recycling and repurposing is fast becoming standard as we try and make our spaces more sustainable and eco friendly. To start with, give a bit back - fill a box with things that you’ve lost the love for and hit the charity shop. Then see if there’s anything within that’s suitable for rehoming in your own rooms. There’s nothing better than trawling the shelves for something special - I’ve lost count of the things that I’ve picked up which are now adorning my home.
My favourite buy was a vintage art print which I picked up for a fiver - Hunters In The Snow by Bruegel, a 1960’s artwork that my parents had in our family home back in the seventies. I’ve sideboards full of tea sets and vintage glassware that I use daily which have all been charity shop buys. Despite my husband complaining that I’m filling our home with tat, one mans trash is another mans treasure and I love every piece.
5. Create Focal Points In Your Room
As Abigail Ahern once said, who says that rooms can have only one focal point? Gone are the days when our three piece suite and coffee table were all focused towards the fireplace or TV. Create a cosy corner by adding a chair, side table and a lamp to draw the eye. If you’ve got a blank space that needs a bit of love, pull together a collection of prints or favourite photographic memories and put up a curated gallery wall for interest.
If, like myself, you’re an avid collector of ‘stuff’ (*read charity shop obsessive) then pull together an arrangement of favourite pieces, themed perhaps in colour. I have a huge collection of glassware dotted about my home that I’ve picked up over the years, always grouped in colour tone. Rooms should be intriguing so have several focal points to make the space interesting to look at.
6. Change Up Your Textiles
Okay, so I know it’s not exactly summery weather this week but that doesn’t mean that our houses can’t reflect the season. Remove all those woolley throws and cushions, store them away until October and bring in the lighter fabrics, the brighter colours to make the room pop. It’s amazing how much difference this small swap can make to your mood and your space. The same applies to your floor coverings - have a switch around, move a few rugs. Just this small change can really update the feel of your room.
7. Have A Reshuffle
Again, this is one of my favourite things to do - move some furniture. I’ve been known to transfer entire rooms from one space to another (with my family returning to complete disarray) but it’s hugely satisfying to do and also has the added benefit (in my case) of being able to find old crisp packets and discarded Babybel wrappers that my children have stuffed behind the sofa. You may have lost the love for a piece of furniture but move it about a bit, team it with something new and you may well love it once again. Refocus your family space; move the TV or the sofa to a new area and see how it looks. It’s easy to leave a sideboard in the same place for pretty much ever but it’s more exciting to see if it looks better somewhere else. Why? Because WHY NOT? It’s fun, I promise you. NB: I take no responsibility for any injuries/arguments/divorces incurred because of this suggestion.
8. Add The Greenery
This week I wrote a blog for B&Q all about your home making you happy and greenery has a lot to answer for in this department. Bringing the outside in is hugely influential to our wellbeing - green signifies the outdoors and sunshine and adding some plants to your space can really boost your positivity levels. If you’re like me and absolutely shocking at keeping them alive, go for the big, solid ones like palms or monsteras.
From experience, it’s the small ones that are prone to suicide missions and need constant watering, thus making them useless partners for incapable gardeners such as myself. No room is finished until it contains a plant. If in doubt, add one.
9. Light The Candles
As I’ve got older, the more I am obsessed with a scented candle. Honestly, when I was younger I’d have walked straight past but now, I’m addicted. In fact, I have a shelf in my office dedicated to them. Whether it’s an Aldi special or a Miller Harris treat, lighting a candle gives me an instant sense of calm. Not only does it fill the room with lovely scent but it also promotes a feeling of relaxation which, let’s face it, is essential at the end of a long day. Plus, there’s nothing better to promote an ambient atmosphere than the flickering glow of a candle flame. And when I’m forcing Joe to watch Love Island, ambience is essential.
10. Turn Up The Sounds
And finally, get the tunes on. The first thing I do when I come down to the kitchen in the morning is to turn on the radio and the last thing at night I do is to shout at Alexa to turn it off. It’s a total mood lifter (especially if you’re into cheesy Capital Radio pop like I am) and if my house isn’t full of music, then it feels just that little bit less happy. We have a speaker in nearly every room in our house (yes, even the bathroom - handy tip, plug an adapter into your shaving socket) and I truly believe that it helps to lift your spirits if you’re feeling a bit negative. I recently worked with a music platform and created my own playlist, a curation that led a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for years to write to me in horror at my choices. Ha. Click here if you’re not easily offended to download.
So that’s my favourite ways to add a bit of light and love to a gloomy weekend. A quick glance at the long range weather forecast tells me that the sun is on it’s way shortly so fingers crossed for some garden action before the month is out. And in the meantime, stick on the Spotify, light the candles, pour the rose and pretend you’re hitting the rays with the Factor 30. In the words of Anthony Burrill, bring back the golden sunshine. Quickly, please.