I cannot begin to describe how happy I am that summer seems to have finally arrived in the UK this past week!
When we moved into our not-so-new-anymore home back in late September, one of the biggest attractions for us was the garden. A shabby, overgrown and unloved garden, but an outdoor space to call our own nonetheless. After spending the first of 2020’s lockdowns – and the whole of last summer – in a small two-bed apartment with no exterior space or easily accessible park to enjoy, we were both itching to tackle our new outdoor deck and garden as soon as possible.. but the weather certainly had other ideas!
To give you a little overview, our garden is accessible via French doors in our kitchen, which open up onto a fairly large decked area, with a step down into the small garden beyond – which grew wild over the winter months, and after being mown at the start of Spring, revealed huge bare patches that we’ve had to sow several times with fresh seed to even out. There’s a ramshackle shed (I’m being kind, it’s pretty much rotten all the way through, with a roof secured by clothes pegs), and what feels like miles and miles of untreated wooden fencing edging the property, that had been weathered grey over many, many years. I’m not sure many other renters in our position would have wanted to tackle the project as we are in the process of doing, but I’m a firm believer in making the space you live in as enjoyable as possible, and for us, that meant sorting the garden out!
The abundance of rain we’ve had in the North West for the past few months hasn’t really helped our plight, but we did manage to get everything pressure washed over the Early May Bank Holiday, and give the deck a fresh lick of paint last weekend, in order to finally create our own little slice of ‘Outdoor Escapism’ at home, with thanks to our ol’ faves IKEA, taking inspiration from its SS21 Transition.
And boy did we get that deck sorted at the right time! The late May bank holiday proved to be a scorcher and it was such a blessing to be able to sit outdoors in the sunshine and truly appreciate the space. As I mentioned, the deck sits right outside our kitchen and my boyfriend and I knew we wanted it to function as an extension of our dining space. We have a small round table – our breakfast nook, as I like to call it – just inside the French doors, but I’m excited to be able to eat as many of our meals outside now as the British weather will allow. Especially since our new outdoor table, the HATTHOLMEN/FANBYN combo, is bigger than our indoor one!
It’s an extendable table too, made of solid Eucalyptus, and we’ll easily be able to sit 6-8 people around it once outdoor entertaining season properly kicks off. We purposefully opted for the white version so we can mix-and-match with the oak veneered EKEDALEN benches we have in our breakfast nook, to offer extra outdoor seating when required. During the winter months we may well even bring the outdoor table indoors (although it could happily live outside all year under a protective cover), since our current kitchen dining table is a collapsible one from my old flat and could easily be stored away. The FANBYN chairs are also sturdy and smart enough to work indoors too – and also work nicely with our existing kitchen table – so we have plenty of workable options going forward. That’s the beauty of having a defined aesthetic I suppose!
I’ve already been making as much of our newly created outdoor space as possible, enjoying every meal in the sunshine, as well as taking my laptop out to work during the day too. Over the past few months we’ve really been able to understand how the sun passes over the property in summer, and see just how much direct sunshine we get on the deck during the day. Happily, it’s quite a bit, although my English rose complexion probably doesn’t quite agree!
The next thing we need to invest in is a parasol (I’ve got my eye on the SAMSÖ) to provide a little extra shade so I can hang around outdoors a little longer after lunch to work, instead of having to decamp back inside to avoid excessive screen glare. For those wonderful few hours between 11 and 2 though, our deck has become my favourite place to work from, especially as I’ve been able to stretch the power cord from my SYMFONISK bookshelf speaker (from a previous collaboration) outside to enjoy some accompanying summer playlists. Lizzy from Shot from the Street has created some fantastic ones lately, which I highly recommend giving a listen (here).
The speaker sits perfectly atop the KOLBJÖRN shelving unit in beige, which I knew would fit wonderfully in the space under the kitchen window after featuring the green version in the balcony set I styled last summer. The beige option felt more suited to our home though – particularly as it’s a versatile enough piece to work both indoors and out – and in keeping with the laid-back beach shack style vibe we wanted to create. By keeping the base tones of the deck space neutral we’re able to introduce colour pops through textiles and other accessories, which can be changed up year-on-year, if desired. The core outdoor pieces though – the table, chairs and storage – need to work for us long-term and indeed, in a different outdoor space, whenever we decide to move (which is not in our plans anytime soon!).
Having painted the deck a dark brown (based on the faded and worn shade our landlord had previously used), adding some natural reed screening around the exterior of the deck felt like a quick and easy way to add texture and interest to the space, and enhance that beach shack aesthetic. To complement these natural hues, I opted for the RODELUND flatwoven outdoor rug, to break up the monotony of the painted decking and create definition between the dining and the grilling sections of the deck.
Yep, you guessed it, we also have a new BBQ to make sure we get the most out of our garden this summer! Growing up I never really spent much time in our back garden, since my parents were not ones for barbecuing or dining alfresco, but my boyfriend – who grew up in Guatemala – spent most of his time outdoors. So, it’s definitely the spirit of his childhood we’re trying to recreate here, and I cannot wait for him to get things fired up and cooking (we’re currently awaiting the restocking of gas bottles locally, since it seems everyone has the same desire for barbecues as we do!).
But it’s not just dining alfresco that I’m keen to do in our garden this summer. Simply sitting out on the deck with my nose in a good book is probably the most summer holiday thing I can think of, since most of my family holidays abroad were spent reading on a breezy balcony, or on a lounger by the pool, with the rest of the six weeks’ holiday spent going to and from the library!
The big white SKARPÖ plastic armchairs have long been on my wish list, since I have several friends who have them in their back gardens and I’ve always found them to be super comfy and easy to maneuver around the place – particularly useful if you’re chasing the shade like I usually am! For now we have positioned one of them in the most shady corner of the deck (and paired with the little YPPERLIG side table that usually lives in our guest bedroom) so I can enjoy a nice little reading spot, but in time we’ll create a little reading oasis in the corner of the garden – under a canopy sail or parasol – to free up a bit more space on the deck. But a garden wasn’t built in a day, and we still have an excessive amount of fencing to paint – and a shed to repair – before we can move on to styling more corners and completing the transformation!
For now though we are both so happy with how our little outdoor space is coming together and, as I say, have already spent plenty of time outdoors in the past week enjoying the warmer weather. As the sun sets we also have the warm glow from the SOLVINDEN LED solar-powered lamp to help prolong our time outdoors, and a basket filled with INGRUN blankets so we can wrap up and keep warm for an extra hour or so.
Additional IKEA pieces featured:
- SOMMARDRÖM cotton tablecloth
- FÅRDRUP sheepskin-style rug
- CHIAFRÖN stoneware plant pot
- INGEFÄRA terracotta plant pot
- VATTENKRASSE watering can
- GRILLTIDER barbecue tools
- IKEA 365+ IHÄRDIG salt and pepper mills
- LÄTTAD seagrass placemats
- BLANDA MATT bamboo serving bowl
- STORSINT red wine glass
- PÅDRAG glass vase
How have you been making the most of the warmer weather? I do hope you have a space you can dedicate to ‘Outdoor Escapism’ this Summer, whatever the size, and whether indoors or out!
This post is a paid partnership with IKEA, but all photography and thoughts (and love of the brand!) are my own.