Sunday, 11 August 2013

The most important room

I often say that the most important room in my house is my garden, and I use my garden as if it was one of the rooms in my house – all year round. I probably spend almost as much time there as I do in my bedroom on average and certainly more than I do in my living room. It was therefore about time I did a spruce-up of my seating area this summer, it has looked the same since I moved in almost 12 years ago.

This is what my seating area used to look like, under a huge holly tree, next to a breezeblock wall that had been threatening to fall down for years, with a small garden bench, a too large table and some plastic chairs.

Last year the landlord of my neighbours decided to build an extension on his house and my big conifer had to come down.

The corner where my seating area is has extensive pipe work on the outer wall, after all, I live in a Victorian house and inside plumbing was not invented for houses of this modest standard when these houses were built. Indoor toilet and water came much later and the pipe work had to go on the outside façade. Not very decorative....

The next door extension got taller and taller and my old breezeblock wall finally gave in and collapsed, I had to get my housing association to come and fix it and....

....they gave me a nice fence instead, same as the rest of the fence in my garden. That was the beginning of my spruce-up.

I then bought a new, bigger garden bench, a bench big enough to lie down on and sit across with my feet up, and I can even sleep on it – in fact, when we had that extremely hot weather in July I slept on here several nights :-)

I got a builder to box in the ugly pipe work and by doing so I got a nice shelf to put even more plants on. The builder also painted the concrete wall so now it is nice and white and all the ugly marks are gone. And I bought two new garden chairs in wood with cushions and a storage box/table.

I got a parasol to shade from the sun and protect from showers.

And I made a really thick mattress for the bench and some cushions. I also have a wedge cushion on the left side of the bench so I can sit across and rest my back that way, as I am much more comfortable when having my legs up.

And do you remember I have written about the chimenea I was going to get? Here it is, mine is called Tia and I am so happy I got it! Normally it stands next to my nursery shelves, but when I want to use it I lift it out here in the middle of the path. It is made of steel and cast iron and not heavier than I can lift it myself.

To complement my seating area I pick fresh flowers and put in this vase, my latest craze is water gel pearls, the pearls are made out of a non-toxic polymer that have the ability to absorb up to 150 times its weight in water.

I think they look so pretty in the vase and if you have never used these water gel pearls I can highly recommend them, if nothing else, they are very addictive just to play with!

But it is after dark my new seating area really looks it’s best, it is no longer a pitch dark corner! In my vase I have submersible LED tea candles.

And the same tea candles in my bird bath.

I have ‘real flame’ tea candle lanterns spread around the garden.

And on my sofa/bench I have a warm, super soft fleece throw to put over me if it gets a bit chilly.

Although as soon as I get up, the throw is hogged by my cat who also likes super soft throws with zebra pattern!

So far I have only used my chimenea with bio-ethanol, it doesn’t provide much heat when used outdoor, it is more for the cosy flames but with bio-ethanol there is no smoke or fumes at all so it is very neighbour friendly if you live close to next door like I do.

My chimenea can be used with any type of fuel, like wood, coal and recycled newspaper logs and other eco fuel, but all those produce smoke, fumes and ash.

My chimenea has a small metal box which I fill with bio-ethanol and if you look closely on this picture you can see the box at the bottom of the chimenea. When the bio-ethanol is used up, the fire goes out. If I use it with wood or coal I can also use this chimenea to cook food on, as a barbeque, but I haven’t tried that yet.

When the fire goes out it gets a bit darker sitting here, so then I turn on the parasol light....

....which hangs like a small UFO right under the parasol canopy. It is actually very bright and lights up the whole seating area.

As I was taking these photos last night, the parasol light was attracting a lot of insects and I just had to take a few photos of them. It was especially this moth that was very busy right next to me, flying in and out of the penstemons in the tub standing only centimetres away from me.

I have tried all summer to get a decent photo of some butterflies in my garden, but not one of them has been presentable, they fly away too quickly. I suppose brown moths are not exactly as interesting as a peacock butterfly, but they are easier to photograph!

And up-close, this moth has some nice colours too :-)

OK, so I started with the history of my seating area and ended up with moths, nothing wrong with a good digression! So far we have had the best summer for decades here in London and I have been out in my garden a lot and used my seating area a lot too. Hopefully summer will last well into September and, as it sometimes happens here in London, maybe we will get a nice and long autumn too. And if not, I have my zebra striped fleece throw to wrap up in, so I will still be sitting outside!
Until next time, take care.

~~~ * ~~~

PS! I do all my shopping from my sofa - on the Internet, everything you see here you can get too if you live in UK. Here are some links for you if you want to create something similar.

6ft garden bench from Internet gardener
Garden chairs from Ikea
Glazing paint used on the bench and the chairs from Ikea
Lanterns from Ikea
Parasol light from Amazon
Zebra throw from Amazon
Animal print fabrics from Fabric online
Zips and other haberdasheries from Minerva crafts
Foam wedge from Amazon
Custom cut mattress foam from TW foam
Parasol base from Amazon
Parasol from Amazon
Bio-ethanol from Prestigious Fires
Tia chimenea from Chiminea shop uk
Submersible tea lights from Festive lights
Gel pearls from The glow company

38 comments:

  1. What a transformation! No wonder you have been sleeping out there - it looks like a wonderful place to be. I particularly like the way that the hot colours of the soft landscaping are picked up in your soft furnishings! Very nicely done.

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    1. Thanks, it has become the hot-pink area of the garden, actually a bit by accident, the chair cushions were supposed to be red, not pink...that's the charm of shopping on the Internet and not going to the shops yourselves, you don't always know if the pictures are true to life!

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  2. That's a fantastic transformation. I just love the whole area, both by day and by night. It now looks so tranquil and quite beautiful. You've done such a great job. I was really taken with the idea of submersible LED tea candles. I'll have to borrow that idea!

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    1. You're welcome to borrow the idea :-) The LED candles are great, I think I will get some more in different colours.

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  3. Transformation was the word in my mind too, as I looked through your pictures. It all looks fantastic. I love the submersible lights, and the water gel pearls. Do they release the water back to the flowers or are they just decorative?

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    1. The water gel pearls are supposed to give flowers enough water according to the website, except for roses - they need additional water with the pearls. In reality all the flowers I have tried have needed a bit of water in the bottom of the vase (the pearls float and the water sink) so I fill half an inch of water and make sure the flowers reach the bottom.

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  4. You did a wonderful job by transforming your sitting area in a day- and night-paradise. I think it is great to sleep outside on very hot nights. We tried it once on the verandah when it was hot, but we could not sleep by the noise of traffic to the flower- and vegetable auction in our neighbourhood and the frogs. I love the frogs in the canals and ponds around us, but at night outside..... Your pictures are beautiful, especially the moth in the Penstemon and your cat. The idea of LED tea candles and water gel pearls I want to try too.
    I hope we all will have a long summer and nice autumn.

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    1. It is rather quiet in my garden at night and early morning, and my bedroom is facing the garden anyway so the sounds I hear in bed with my window open are the same as when I sleep in the garden :-)
      I hope for a long summer and autumn too, I think we deserve that after the winter and spring we had!

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  5. ok, so we are all saying transformation, but wow no wonder I just love it. The Summer in Aberdeen has been lovely also but when night falls that is a different story, no way would you want to sleep outdoors up here. Take care and enjoy the rest of the Summer.

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    1. Thanks Alistair, I guess the nights can be a bit more chilly up in Scotland, but when we had 30-35 degrees C during the day it hardly crept down to 20 during the coldest part of the night. Lovely temperature for sleeping outside, especially since my old Victorian house tend to store heat for a long time and my upstairs bedroom was at least 30 degrees at bedtime. It is cooler now, both during the day and at night, but still no lower than 14-15 degrees during night. I am back to sleeping in my bed though!

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  6. Wow what a beautiful make-over. My compliments Helene. It's very difficult to photograph the butterflies well. This moth is captured great we have it too overhere and it never sits still for a moment.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Thanks Marijke, the moth photos were just lucky shots last night, totally out of the blue, fortunately I had my camera next to me, usually my camera is somewhere else when I really need it! Wishing you a great day too.

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  7. That looks fantastic Helene! Good enough for a magazine spread! Inspirational stuff. Jill

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    1. Thanks, I won't be calling any magazine editors, but I don't mind if anyone else does! :-)

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  8. Love the new fab seating area, Elaine! It's so beautiful, inviting and inspiring! I'm off to dream about a new seating area for my garden. :-) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Beth, I have dreamt about this for a good few years now so I am so happy I finally managed to get it all organised. Oh, by the way, I spell my name Helene :-)

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    2. I don't know what I was thinking, Helene! I was just talking about your blog here at home last night, and knew your name was Helene then (I've had no wine lately). So sorry *blush.* :-)

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    3. Oh, that's quite all right Beth, I just thought I would mention it, in case some visitors would get confused over the different names :-)

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  9. It looks great and is an amazing transformation. I think moths are just as interesting as butterflies!

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    1. Thanks Sue, well moths can be interesting, even though perhaps not as colourful, but I get fascinated by anything I can get that close to!

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  10. I'm so pleased that your seating area came together so beautifully, Helene! The furniture and cushions are lovely and if the bench mattress is comfortable enough to sleep on, go for it! I have never seen those water gel pearls nor submersible LED tea lights. So cool!! You have created a lovely spot from which to view your lovely garden.

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    1. Thanks Astrid, I must admit I sit down and look at my garden more now, with a more comfortable place to sit or lie down – so in a way I enjoy my garden even more than before! The mattress is 5” thick and I can’t feel the bench through it when I sit or lie on it, so yes, definitely comfortable to sleep on. But I don’t think it will be any more nights outdoors for this summer, the weather has cooled down to a low 20s C during the day and low to mid teens at night so no more problem sleeping in my bed.

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  11. It's like something from a Homes and Garden magazine Helene - it looks great. I love the colour theme you have going on too. Maybe just the kick up the bum I need to improve mine.
    The fact that the cat likes it means ever so much more!

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    1. My 12 year old cat likes anything soft, warm and cosy, he is at that stage of life when things have started to slow down and nothing goes as quickly as it used to – just as with his owner!!
      Consider yourself kicked up the bum – or inspired as I meant to do, looking forward to seeing your new, improved seating area. It took me years to get this sorted, but perhaps you might do it a bit quicker? :-)

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  12. Wonderful tale of transformation, Helene. What a dramatic change it was to have the pipes covered up and a more cohesive background to your most important room. I love how you've brought out all manner of creature comforts (not least of all, for your kitty!). Those water gel pearls are intriguing -- I shall have to investigate!

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    1. Thanks, my garden has become a garden for the evening too now, it wasn't before :-)
      I am sure you'll be able to get the water gel pearls where you live too, just do a search on the Internet.

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  13. It looks like a little bit of heaven, Helene! I can just picture you there in that cozy little room with the kitty and the fleece. How wonderful that you've had a nice warm summer! Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks, yes the summer has been great - although it has cooled down quite a lot the last 2 weeks, 'only' around 20-23 degrees at daytime, which isn't too bad but we have been a bit spoilt with high temperatures this summer!

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  14. Great makeover! I'm hoping that we will get a deck built next to our house perhaps this summer, so I'll be coming back to this post for inspiration when the time comes to decorate it. I love all the garden lights you've used, they make the space much more user friendly! And it's great that you've made it so you can enjoy it whatever the weather.

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    1. Thanks, feel free to nick any idea you like! Good luck with your own makeover :-)

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  15. Helene,how wonderful is your sitting place! It has completely changed. I love your bench and thick mattress, pretty parasol with lamps that is useful in dark time. Well done! Very comfortable!

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    1. Thank you, yes this corner has become a very comfortable place to sit down to rest, or eat, and as I have written earlier - even sleep, but that was only when it was so hot, I don't feel like sleeping out here right now, last night was pretty chilly!

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  16. What a fabulous makeover. I love the coral pink and the zebra print cushions. Very inspiring!

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  17. Hi Helene
    What a beautiful place this became! No wonder you don't want to leave that lovely room. Well done!
    xxx Alex

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    1. Thanks, my garden is, like the title of this post - the most important room in my house :-)

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  18. Helene, your sitting spot looks amazing. It's like a hiding place from everything and everyone and there is just you, your plants, your flowers, the perfume and pride.

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    1. Thanks, I use this seating area a lot and I use my garden all year round so doing this make-over this summer has been great - and long overdue :-)

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