The Garden: After [The Planting]

I hope you enjoyed yesterdays post – there was just far too much to share for one post so I’m continuing today with a bit more detail. :)

The design of the hard landscape of the garden is quite geometric which stemmed from the large square deck we had already built. All the angles and lines reflect that but the planting contrasts with the angles in that is is very soft and fluid with swaying grasses and cloud like groupings of wild looking flowers. The downside to this kind of planting is that is relies heavily on perennials – that is plants that die back every winter and grow again in summer  - so we needed some structure to provide a backbone. The box balls form part of that, are contemporary and also break up the expanse of grass which was my concession to Pete’s plans for the garden – he would have been very happy grassing the whole thing with a goal post at either end. ;)

The planting was inspired by Piet Oudolf who I have talked about here before. A Dutch plantsman who is one of the most influential designers of our time, he champions a natural style of garden based on wildflowers and prairie fields. He also wants us to see the beauty in all stages of a plants life from the first shoots in spring through the flowers in summer to the frost on seedpods and frozen strands of dead grass in winter. His popular public works include the High Line in New York which I was thrilled to visit in person on our trip earlier this month and he is famous for his use of grasses. I’m so happy with how our planting turned out.

I browsed a few of his books before choosing our plants and made sure I choose amongst my own favourites some key plants of his to ‘get the look’. Some of the key species included Stipa tenuissima (the golden grass you see here,) Echinacea (the tall daisy like flowers,) Sanguisorba (the burgundy ball-like flowers in the picture above,) and Verbena bonariensis, (tiny purple flowers that form a cloud above lower plants or grasses they are planted through.) You can find more suitable plant combinations here. The other important thing to do is to plant in swaths – to get this look you need groups of 7 or 11 plants rather than 3 or 5.

The patio area is where our garden gets the majority of the sun, and is quite exposed in that way so the pergola was designed to be a focal point but also to add shade. We planted 3 climbing plants at the corners to cover it and add dappled shade – a white Wisteria, a Passion flower and a scented jasmine closest to twhere our table is.

The borders extend to surround the patio and the idea is that as the flowers mature the dining area will be partially obscured, and feel slightly enclosed and more cosy for dinners outside. We eat outside a lot in summer so I can’t wait for this are to become even more magical than it feels already…

Back towards the house, we built raised beds to break up the drop from the deck down  to the garden and also to bring the garden to the deck, so to speak. They were built last summer when the deck was, but only filled when the garden was done.

The one above is west facing and gets the sun all day so it’s got some drought resistant plants in there along with some prarie style additions and some of my favourite cottage garden plants too. I aimed for height here so they were taller than the deck 50cm above the planting box and could be seen through the glass balustrade. On the other side, the other box is north facing and gets very little sun, only at the very end of the day as it drops so it looks very different with ferns (including a tiny tree fern!) Japanese anemones, Heuchera and Hostas for sculptural foliage and variety of colour in the leaves.

Of course, it’s still not finished. We didn’t completely clear some shrubs in one of the borders so there was some backdrop for the immature planting but we will be changing that this autumn and winter. There is also a flower bed I had planned to be quite cotremporary not he left side and not pictured really here, but I’m now undecided if thats what I really want, or if the plants I had picked were the right ones. I may give it a year or two to develop and think about it.

That’s what I love about gardening. Its never over, it’s never done and it can always be worked on, built and changed. Its probably the only area of my life that I take the long view on and as a result it’s so relaxing.

I hope you enjoyed the insight again and once again, the design was down to brilliant Iain from Outer Space Lansdcapes, with the planting by me. :)


The Garden: After

As the Autumn is in full swing, I thought I’d share the picture of my finished garden, probably as good as it’s going to get before everything starts to die off for the winter. As you can see if you look back at my last post, the plants have filled out dramatically.

I absolutely love it. If we left this house I would miss the garden more than anything I think.

Before we start, some obligatory before and after shots – the ‘before’s’ with the garage are from the beginning of May and the photos in this post were taken in mid September, so its has really changed massively in less than 5 short months.

I am SO glad we got rid of the garage. Of course we have the luxury of a cellar to store ‘stuff’ in but in all honesty it’s a few garden tools and a lawnmower. nothing a shed couldn’t have handled and it has been so worth it for the extra space in a small garden.

The only thing that is different other than the planting in these pictures from the last post is that we finally finished off the decking with a glass and steel balcony to protect the edges. I think lots of people think we are mad having such a big open stepped area down but it was an integral part for me of keeping the deck a part of the garden, rather than two areas, and due to the cellars there would always be a drop from stepping out of the house, down to the garden. short of a ramp, nothing would have been ‘safe’ for Bea.

I have a ton of pictures to share so I’m going to split this post into two. There will be more tomorrow with the detail of the design and planting. Once again, the design and landscaping was all by Iain at Outer Space Lanscapes and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again – he was brilliant to work with, hardworking and did an amazing job. In fact we will be asking him to re-landscape the front garden in the future. I will just share the vegetable area of the garden today.

Some of you may remember we had an allotment before we moved and gave it up knowing the house would take up our time, that we planned a family and that we hoped to grow some veg in the new garden. I asked for some custom designed raised vegetable beds to be incorporated in to the design and space for a greenhouse, and I’m so glad we did. I love pottering in my working corner of the garden but it looks just as good as the rest of it!

I wanted a wooden greenhouse but they are so expensive and eventually we found this tiny one online. It was less than half the price of most as it is untreated, meaning we had to protect it with a stain and protect product but I wanted to Paint it anyway so it was not great loss. It’s also got plastic windows which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but painted up, I love it. It still has some of the green plastic film on the windows in these pictures and the inside needs painting still too, but it has been fab for growing in and we had our first tomatoes in there this year.

For the veg beds we concentrated on stuff we would use, that crops heavily and in a short space. 2 courgette plants kept us fed for the whole summer, we grew salad leaves, runner beans, peas and broad beans. And I had a corner of sweet peas solely for cutting.

Come back tomorrow for some more photos of the planting and detail :) Maybe I’ll periscope it when we get a sunny day!


Five on Friday…

Check out this amazing kitchen make-over, with a few simple steps to update what they already had – clever! I love the yellow stools.

How to turn an IKEA bookshelf into a storage bench – great idea for a playroom or family room.

Love the calm simplicity of the bedroom.

I met up with friends yesterday and one of them was wearing this cardigan – it looked fab and such a bargain for £23!

I’m really focusing on the house again now we are back and just need to zone in on where we should start… This moody dining room is fabulous for the darker days ahead.

Happy Friday readers :)


Big Kitchen // Little Kitchen

If you follow me on Instagram (you can here,) you might have seen my post this sunday sharing the Ikea Hack Pete did (I take no credit for the labour but it was totally *my* ahem, Pinterest’s) idea. ;) Now it gets more attention than the actual kitchen does when people come to the house.

I thought this kind of thing was pretty commonplace but guess thats what you get from being a Pinterest addict as many of you asked me to share it… so here’s what we did to make Bea’s mini-kitchen.

It was pretty straight forward. Our kitchen cupboards are painted and we had some of the paint left over so they got a coat of undercoat and then 2 coats of Farrow and Ball’s Dove Tale grey. You can buy the Ikea Duktig play kitchen for £45

We have marble worktops so I found a marble effect adhesive vinyl (basically sticky backed plastic) they we used to cover the worktop, folding it around the edges and cutting in to make it smooth round the corners and under the sink and hob.

We sprayed painted the handles and tap gold (Wilko’s is my favourite for the best gold tone.) I always wanted gold hardware in our kitchen but it didn’t quite happen so I thought why not for Bea?! We are thinking about sourcing some knobs to add to the front of the kitchen above the door with the window to make an ‘oven’ for her but I haven’t got around to it yet.

Of course you could do anything with your IKEA kitchen, and this doesn’t have the upper part that you buy separately – Bea is as yet not tall enough to reach it so we though we would save it for a future birthday ;) . I’ve seen these kitchens done in vintage style with pink cupboards and frilly gingham curtains, or putting a wood effect vinyl on (or real wood top) and adding some metro tiles to the backsplash would be awesome as a country style kitchen.

I hope it has inspired you – it was so quick and easy, and dare I say, although Bea probably doesn’t appreciate it yet, I love that it looks great in our kitchen!


PS! more inspiration here

The Garden: During and After

If you’d like to see how the garden looked before, then head on back to my first post here. We started ripping out the garage at the beginning of May and had it ‘sort of’ finished by mid-June. I hasten to say from the outset, we did not do this work ourselves! We had the amazingly good luck of stumbling across a brilliant garden designer and builder who was just a pleasure to work with – Iain from Outer Space Landscapes and his very capable sidekick, Shaun. I knew straight away from our first meeting when he asked me if I knew of Piet Oudolf, (you might remember me mentioning him as inspiration for the garden a while back,) that I was sure we were going to be able to work well together. These are all quite candid phone photos that I took as we went along. The finished ones are a bit glossier. ;)

This was the initial design on paper:

The first thing we had to do was knock the garage down. We actually listed it on eBay on the advice of our builder and unbelievably sold it (for less than £100 but it paid for one of the 3 skips we needed to complete the work so not bad,) when it would have cost us hundred more to have it dismantled. In the end it became clear that the people who bought it weren’t able to remove it fully and we got our usual builder to finish the job but it just goes to show, its amazing what will sell on eBay!

Of course it got a lot worse before it got better. The weather was against us (although the wet summer was later on a godsend for the new grass and plants.) One of the first things that were built were the raised vegetable beds at the side of the house, before the old grass was even taken up and the whole plot levelled.


When the border edging, grass and patio went in, it all started to take shape and I could see where the design was going. It all seemed very vast to finish with plants! I did a huge order at a local garden centre, (I chose all the plants myself and designed the planting scheme,) and you can see them delivered here on the steps to the deck.

As you can see, part of the design was these three large box balls in the lawn to give a sculptural element and I thought they would also be fun for kids to hide behind and jump over! ;)

The final part of the design was the modern pergola. Our patio is in full sun pretty much from sun up to about 5pm in the height of summer and as we planned to enjoy lazy lunches there we were going to need some shade. Eventually wisteria and other climbers will provide dappled shade over the whole structure.

I’m going to post some more pictures in the next week or two that show how the garden has changed again since these were taken at completion. The way it has filled out and matured already is amazing, but for now, this is what the process looked like. Please do ask any questions and if you’re looking for a garden makeover in and around Manchester I would recommend Iain at Outer Space Landscapes in a heartbeat – incredibly hardworking, knows his stuff and beautiful results.

I hope you like it readers! I can’t wait to show the more recent pictures – the difference is amazing!


Art Attack…

I’m always talking about how we never get around to finishing our rooms with real art on the walls and our Lounge, completed before Christmas is no exception. We partially remedied this with Pete’s birthday present to me, an Yvonne Coomber print, but there is still a large blank wall opposite the bay window and to the left of the sofa that looks very unloved. As the room already had a blue theme with a lot of jewel brights in it, choosing something has been tricky so I decoded to mock up a couple of ideas and I’d love to hear your thoughts…

One option would be to put up a single large piece, mirroring the other wall, but I’m not sure if that won’t look a bit odd. The wall, although it’s actually the narrower length of the room, looks long because of the radiator I think and it certainly needs a landscape print.

The other option would be to combine a few images. We are terrible at getting family photos printed out and I thoughts about combining some black and white prints with another print I spotted on Etsy from Clare Elsaesser. (The black and white images are of our bump shoot and Bea at 6 weeks by The Lawsons.) It’s just always difficult to choose images that don’t feel too personal or too ‘in your face’ for what is essentially a public space. I don’t want to do a more ‘gallery wall’ style of display as I think lots of pictures may look busy in here, in what is essentially a formal room and I have plans for one elsewhere downstairs.

What do you think readers? Any other ideas or suggestions?


Five interiors trends to Obsess over…

After a hiatus of apathy and fatigue, I’m getting my interiors mojo back, ready to tackle another 3 rooms in our house over the next 6 months. Cue a pinning spate and lots of inspiration to share here. Some themes keep resurfacing though and one or two have taken me by surprise – not being my usual style, but now I can’t wait to shake things up a little bit.

1. Patterned tiles

Metro tiles have their place for sure, but recently I’m loving the idea of geometric or moorish patterns in kitchens, bathrooms and on hallway floors as a modern twist in an otherwise simple space.

2. Monochrome

I never thought I’d see the day I toyed with monochrome patterns and prints for a modern look instead of my go-to brights but theres something about how clean it looks that makes it the perfect foil for a few bright colour pops… you didn’t think I’d forgo them all together did you?!

3. Making bedding the focus of the room

I’m usually all about white bedding and a patterned wallpaper backdrop but as we work on another of our attic bedrooms I’m drawn to super simple spaces with minimal furniture and brightly patterned bedding as the star of the show. Watch this space.

4. Out with art, in with texture

Filling the wall space is something I’m really bad at getting round to finishing but instead of looking at prints recently I have been drawn to more textural or sculptural pieces for walls. I might just try and DIY something to rival this stunning ombre hanging.

5. Scandi style Multi use spaces

Right now we are busy with a couple of other rooms, but before the winter I want to tackle our dining room and plan to make it a multi functional space, to make up for our lack of dining/kitchen/family room. I’ve been trawling for inspiration on how I can make it warm and cosy yet light and bright.

What interiors trends are you obsessing over right now?


PS Follow my pins here

Spotted: x Living Etc

Imagine my excitement when joined up with my favourite interiors magazine to design a collection of design pieces with that extra modern edge? This summer’s isn’t the first collection but it’s the first that has been right up my street in terms of my own home’s decor and I’ve got my eye on quite a few pieces. Our master bedroom after being initially finished (i.e. no longer a building site) has languished at the back of the queue in terms of finishing touches and we’re on a renewed drive of enthusiasm towards getting the house more ‘finished’. And that includes those finishing touches. You can see our bedroom here.

As you can see, I was going for a grey and pink theme but really struggled to get the right shade of pink for what I wanted. We were still looking for a rug, cushions and throw, which I might have found in one go with this collection.

You can view all of the current x Living Etc collection here (including the pieces I have featured;) – Let me know what you think!


PS More of My House Here:
The Attic bedroom
The formal Lounge
The Kitchen

Secret Linen Store

Happy Monday readers! Now who is up for some bed linen inspiration, and interior style with a discount to boot? I thought so, read on!

Artichoke in Navy

Secret Linen Store were recently kind enough to send me some of their Navy Artichoke bedlinen for my bedroom. When I wrote about the yellow room which featured the Dotty Coffee spot bedlinen, I was a little sad it would only get used by guests, ;) so I am thrilled to have some to use myself. It’s breaking the habit of a lifetime for me to not have white bedlinen, so it’s different, but it’s so luxurious in feel I can’t help but love it. (You can see it on my bed here.)

Coastal Stripe in Navy

It seemed like a good time to share some of the current collection as the room sets themselves are rather inspiring, as well as the bedding!

Teasels in Dove Grey

Aside from the quality and feel, I think Secret Linen Store have really nailed the balance between style and colour. The designs are modern, fresh and stylish yet won’t date easily because of their timeless feel and classic choices like the coastal stripes. I particularly love the abundance of chic grey designs! ;)

Graphite Ferns

Giant Purple Artichokes

Coastal Stripe in Natural Linen

So if you are looking to update your bedlinen for summer, you’re in luck!I have collaborated with Secret Linen Store to give a reader offer of 10% off everything with the code SLEEPY at checkout! Offer ends on the 16th of August ;)

Luxury 600 thread count white bedlinen

And there’s still all white if you’re a die hard white bedlinen fan ;)

Happy shopping!


PS! A Cow Parsley Attic bedroom