How I created my own Party Patio
When we moved into our Barn Conversion nearly eight years ago there was an awful lot to do and getting our patio party ready was way down the list. But that was ok as it gave me plenty of time to think about how I wanted it to look and feel.
I didn't want it to be run of the mill, it had to be BOLD, have the WOW factor and it was going to include Gold Disco Balls.
The makeover was recently featured in Modern Gardens magazine where it was described as a "Party Patio; My Own Piece of Ibiza!". I think it's fair to say I met my own brief!
The Perfect Party Patio
We only finished this space at the very end of the Summer last year (August Bank Holiday in fact) so we haven't enjoyed it as a Summer space yet but it's been in use every day over the Autumn and Winter. It's where I sit to have a cuppa when I get back from taking the dogs for a walk to let them dry off. It has a polycarbonate roof so I am protected from the elements and I keep my hat and coat on - I'm not that hard! If there is even a glimpse of sun we eat out here.
Enjoying the view post dog walk
If you follow me on Instagram @sallydoesassy you will know that I am all about bold, sassy styling in my home (after all that's where my account name came from). I like to make spaces feel as though they flow into each other. So, I just approached the design of the outside area as I would any other room in the house ie. it had to serve an actual purpose as a room. So in this case it had to function as "separate" areas: a lounge area with a coffee table; a dining area; and a fun zone/spill out area from the bar. It also had to be dark with one other main colour which in this case was gold with a few brown tones - just the same as inside.
Our house is very long and the patio area runs the full length of it. There was no point going small with the verandah if it was going to make an impact, it had to be BIG. So, it runs from the back barn door all the way to the boundary wall between us and our neighbours, a length of 10 meters. Also, from a practical point of view, this meant we could access it from the bar doors (seen here) with drinks and also just be able to step out from the back door with food (no steps to be going up and down when carrying trays).
Throw those doors open wide! One day like this a year will see me right
The barn doors at the other end of the verandah
This is the plan I gave Steve the joiner. I think it's the modern day equivalent of jotting it down on the back of a fag packet.
Highly detailed to scale plans
AN EVERGREEN SPACE
The exisiting plants were key to the vision I had in my head as I wanted them to merge into, over and under the verandah and make it feel evergreen. The Yorkshire stone boundary wall was already thick with ivy and I knew that it would take no time at all for the ivy to start to cover the new fence and I could then train it to cover the verandah roof. We also had a lovely creeper growing up the back wall of the house (some sort of Clematis) and Steve was under strict instructions not to damage the roots as I wanted this to grow up under the roof too.
The wooden frame was built allowing space for the plants to grow around it
It was also really important to me that it looked "perfect" straight away as we wanted it be a space that we could use all year round. SPOLIER ALERT a lot of the plants are faux (until the real ones catch up). I googled "cheap faux ivy" and bought approx 60 meters of the stuff and attached it to the underside of the roof joists with a staple gun. On it's own this could look really naff but because we have so much real foliage it all blends in and gives the effect I was after. The plants in pots are also faux.
60 metres of cheap as chips faux ivy
ERECTING THE VERANDAH
The first thing we did was put up a VERY high fence between us and next door to provide privacy. Before anyone asks about planning permission etc. I should explain that the garden next door to us is raised so the top of the wall is their ground level.
Straight away this bold move added some drama, especially when we painted it dark.
Creating a bit of privacy and drama
The moody sky adding to the dark vibe
If you follow me on Instagram @sallydoessassy you will know my house is dark and that I have a love affair with Farrow and Ball Railings paint. I like my rooms to flow into each other and I use the same colour palette throughout so of course I was going to continue with this outside - no country cottage colours here! We colour matched the paint in an Acrylic Satin Multi Surface finish at our local Builders Merchants to keep costs down. We used this paint finish on the decking as well.
*Disclaimer: The verandah has a waterproof roof made to measure in polycarbonate sheeting. I couldn't say how this paint would stand up if it was exposed to the elements all year uncovered.
The frame was built, posts cemented into the ground and the roof joists were added. These are at an angle to allow rain water to run off into a gutter which runs the length of the verandah and escapes in a down pipe directly onto the gravel.
The verandah taking shape
THE PATIO FLOOR
The existing grass and paving slabs were covered in membrane (don't be tempted to skimp on this as the weeds will find a way through the cheap stuff) and covered with 200 bags of white Cotswold stone.
I chose the whitest stone I could find as I wanted it to be a real contrast against the dark paintwork. The brightness of the stone has the effect of making the area feel like we are on holiday somewhere lovely.
The gravel was dumped on the drive and the whole family carried them bag by bag through the house to the patio (did I mention there were 200 of them!) where we slit them open, tipped them out and raked them smooth over the membrane. It was ridiculously hard work but so worth it as the contrast of the white stone against the dark decking is amazing and the green plants just pop against it all.
200 bags of stone clippings and also the hottest day of the year!
Seriously back breaking work
The finishing touches are the accessories, none of these are intended for outdoor use, I just used things I really liked.
All that glitters
Here are some of the questions I'm asked most frequently about the makeover (the answers may not be what you are expecting!)
QUESTION: Are disco balls ok to go outside? Will they get tarnished or damaged?
ANSWER: Mine are undercover. If really high winds get up I would bring them in. So what if they get a few knocks (I've lost a few gold tiles off mine but who cares). The pleasure I get from seeing them shining in the sun or brightening up a dull Winters day far outweighs a few blemishes.
QUESTION: What if it rains, will a cushion or rug get wet?
ANSWER: Yes probably! Rain is wet. Put it over a radiator to dry.
QUESTION: But that's an Indoor Rug and you are using it outside!
I prefer to enjoy things and not save them for best. So If you are worried about this sort of thing this bold approach may not be for you but I urge you to give it a go.
As I said before I dressed the "rooms" as I would indoor rooms so the lounge area has a sofa, two armchairs, a rug, a footstool, cushions and a few ornaments on the wall - just as you would have indoors.
The Lounge area
Last year we dragged the kitchen table out to create a dining room. We are going to make our own version of this table from scaffolding planks to keep outside all year round.
The Dining Room
The Fun Zone a mere three steps away from the Bar
ADD A BIT OF VINTAGE TO THE MIX
I bought these rusty old LOVE letters quite a few years ago and they were on one of the beams in the house. My intention was to nail them to the high fence but in reality they looked a bit blah! So I thought I would make a feature of them. We have a lot of wood from when we were clearing the bottom garden so we just got two tree trunks and an old plank of wood and literally nailed them in place. It took two glasses of Prosecco to come up with the idea and ten minutes work to create it.
Reclaimed letters and a French dolly tub with a Eucalyptus in
I also had an old "oversized hip flask" which we bought at some Vintage place years ago. It adds a bit of unique interest to the garden.
Add a few eclectic pieces to add interest
This sculpture is also a feature. I bought it from a junk shop a few years ago knowing it would go in the garden when the time came - it is made from oak and weighs an absolute tonne. It had been painted white when I bought it (why?) so I painted it in Railings (obviously) and added a bit of gold leaf. The eagle eyed of you may recall it used to be a feature in the lounge until recently.
Before and after
Just add festoons. The more the merrier for a magical atmosphere. James, our electrician, put two sets of outdoor double plug sockets in to allow festoon lights, heaters etc to be plugged in and also fitted some uplighter/downlighter lamps to the posts. You can obviously also get solar powered lights but I like to be in control of when I switch the lights on and off.
All lit up beautifully
Some items were kindly gifted:
Sofa and armchairs from Made.com
Hanging basket chair from Rockett St George
Some of the festoon lights were from Iconic Lights