Home Decor

ConservatoryHome DecorOutdoor Living

Outdoor living is no longer a concept that is limited to the imagination of a child after watching a film that has a tree house in it. Nor does it need to involve getting extremely cold and wet.

Outdoor rooms are becoming increasingly popular, from your standard conservatory to a small luxury office down at the bottom of your garden. With the application of some modern building techniques and some imagination, anything is possible.


Conservatories are the most common and popular version of bringing a little bit of outdoors indoors, or indoors outdoors, whichever way you want to look at it!

Conservatories offer extra space, either by way of an extra room, or an extension on an existing room, and are a great inlet for natural light. They can also give the external appearance of your house a bit of depth or a new dimension that separates it from the duller, flatter counterparts.

You can buy a standard conservatory from around £1,000 and the variation in styles and designs should allow you to match your conservatory with your house seamlessly. If you want something a little more unique though you can get conservatories tailor-made and constructed to your requirements.

Getting a conservatory built can be expensive in terms of labour; there are DIY solutions that come readily prepped for the easiest of installation. It will no doubt be a challenge and occupy a weekend or two but it should work out a lot cheaper; possibly up to a third of the price of buying a conservatory and getting it built by builders.


The new generation of outdoor dwellings allow for some real luxury spots to be built in your garden, possibly something that you have never even considered before could become a dazzling reality.

They are fully connectible to all the utilities and services that your main house benefits from yet they offer the tranquillity and solace of an isolated cottage. They can be built with bricks, steel, wood or glass and they can take any manner of shape or size.

You can have them custom designed or go for a standard offering, construct them yourself with flat-pack style steel designs or simply pay somebody to do it all for you. They also come with long-lasting guarantees, anything from 15 to 25 years, so you can expect a sturdy structure with an indoors feel.


One of the great things about these garden dwellings is that you can go mad with the design and create a complete escape from work, home life and reality. You can create a small version of your favourite holiday villa, maybe build a construction in the design of something you have seen in a film, or simply let your imagination run wild.


Outside rooms offer you that something different but they are also extremely practical in that you may have extended your house to its limits but still not have that gym or music room that you have always desired.

An outdoor room would be the perfect solution as it offers a certain amount of privacy, noise protection for the rest of the household who do not want to hear your favourite guitar solo over and over again, and most importantly perhaps, an incredible amount of use for a section of your garden that rarely gets used and just adds to the lawn mowing.

Here in Britain we are not blessed with great weather. Therefore any garden that we have can seem like a real waste of land and space for that 90% of the time when you are crammed into your house with 4 noisy children but looking out the window onto a garden that is big enough to house a small football match. Therefore, utilising the space and turning it into somewhere that can be used all of the time, all year round, makes a lot of sense.


Rotting Wendy houses full of cobwebs and woodlice are a thing of the past. You may think the idea of a garden retreat is brilliant, yet the realist inside you is pointing out that in between work, cooking, putting the children to bed and other daily chores you’ll have no time to enjoy it.

There is then another way of looking at the opportunity of an outdoor room. Children often have very few responsibilities and lots of free time, they seem to run out of constructive things to do in this free time and so just resort to making noise, and as much of it as they possibly can!

Enter the outdoor living space as somewhere for the kids to make as much noise as they want while you cook or work in peace, with only your favourite CD providing the background noise.

Raised Swimming Pools

A raised, or above ground, swimming pool is a cheaper and often more practical way of enjoying the summer weather in your garden. Old style pools require expensive construction and can only be designed according to your geographic layout of your property. Raised swimming pools, on the other hand sit on top of the ground and are far easier and quicker to install.

The other advantages are that you can take your pool with you if you move and, even more important, they are much safer than traditional pools if you have a baby or toddler, or even small pets that could be in danger of drowning since nothing can accidentally fall into this type of pool because it is raised so high above the ground level. This is why this design is an ideal ‘first’ pool for a family.

Sometimes there is nothing more pleasurable than relaxing for an hour or two in your own outdoor hot tub. This luxury garden accessory is normally made from ceramic, acrylic or wood and filled with heated water, with the temperature controlled by gas or electric heaters. Choosing and preparing the right place for a garden spa will give you the best relaxing experience, especially when several friends or family join in to enjoy the experience. Modern hot tubs are now available in many different designs and sizes you can opt for a small sized tub or share the fun by having a tub with a capacity of up to ten people. One thing is sure, if you suffer from lots of stress and responsibility you really need to get a hot tub, so that you can unwind and relax.

Home Decor

If you are lucky enough to have outdoor space then summer is the perfect opportunity to invite some friends around for a barbecue, afternoon tea party or evening cocktails. If you are feeling really ambitious, make a day of it and combine all three! Try these cheap and cheerful outdoor decorating ideas that will instantly set the scene for your garden party.

Quick tips

  • Make your guests a gift to take away like a pot plant from one of your own garden cuttings.
  • Keep the bugs at bay with citronella incense sticks or scented candles.
  • Stop the table cloth blowing away by attaching clip-on table weights.
  • Recycled bottles make great single stem vases and you won’t mind too much if they get broken.

Casual buffet-style dining

For an informal buffet or barbecue, make your own bunting using pages out of magazines, newspapers or patterned wrapping paper – the more mismatched and eclectic the better. Simply measure out symmetrical diamonds of paper, cut them out and fold them in half to create double-sided triangles. Loop these over a very long ribbon or piece of coloured string and glue together the two triangles.

A traditional picnic blanket is ideal for relaxed dining, but a large tablecloth will also do the trick. Tie up bundles of individual cutlery sets for each guest with raffia or coloured ribbons. Use acrylic glasses and crockery to prevent breakages.

For a child-friendly family gathering why not go for a Mad Hatter’s tea party theme with lots of mismatched china cups, plenty of chintzy teapots and multicoloured iced cupcakes? Thread a pack of cheap playing cards together with string and attach them to branches for the full Alice-in-Wonderland experience.

Elegant al fresco entertaining

For more grown-up and sophisticated garden entertaining, stylish table dressing will give your party the edge. Whether it is a posh afternoon tea or a balmy summer’s evening supper, a stunning centrepiece comprising fresh cut flowers and candles will create a sense of occasion. You could wind long flower stems and vines into a wide glass vase or globe-shaped goldfish bowl or, alternatively, use floating candles and flower heads in a basin of water. Scattering petals, skeleton leaves or paper cut-out butterflies over the table will work well with the natural outdoor surroundings.

If you would rather a more exotic look, combine dark wood furnishings with bright coloured table linen in magenta, violet and turquoise. Adorn the table with tropical pot plants as a centrepiece. A table runner in either paper or fabric will create cohesion. For place settings that double as napkin rings, use alphabet beads threaded onto a piece of coloured wire to spell out the guests’ names.

Garden lighting

Atmospheric lighting will give your cocktail party or evening barbecue the wow factor. Use garden flares, lanterns or fairylights to create a lit pathway for your guests so they do not stumble in the dark. Tealights in jars or candleholders are a practical way to mark out a garden staircase as well as creating a stunning tiered light display. Decorate your trees with mini lanterns attached with wire loops.

Mini sparklers and edible flowers are a beautiful way to garnish a cocktail. Pansies are ideal because they come in many colour combinations. It’s best to grow your own so you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals or buy them from a specialist food shop not a florist. Chop citrus fruits into wedges and freeze them for a fruity alternative to icecubes. Create an outdoor fridge to store all the beers and bottles of white wine by sealing an outdoor metal bin with bathroom sealant and filling it up with ice and water.

Home DecorSunroom

No matter what it’s called, a sunroom, or a conservatory; these rooms are very popular and will increase property value. To get the most out of a sunroom it’s important that the room works hand in hand with the home’s interior decorating scheme and the natural landscape outside.

Sunrooms can serve a variety of functions in the home but were originally designed to house plants. The most successful interior decorating plans for sunrooms keep this idea in mind, finding creative ways to bring Mother Nature inside and create a bridge between the inside and the outside.

To enhance the appearance and function even more the sunroom décor should drag decorating elements from the rest of the home into its scheme and meld that with touches of nature that extend the eye and make the outdoor area seem like it’s part of the living space as well. The following sunroom decorating tips will help create a successful atmosphere and increase property value.

Sunroom Traffic Flow

The first consideration should be the traffic flow of the sunroom and how it relates to adjoining rooms. Sometimes the instinct is to put a couch up as a divider between the sunroom and the rest of the house, avoid this temptation if possible and create a design scheme that opens up the traffic flow from sunroom to the rest of the home.

Sunroom Furniture

Fitting both into the flow and function, the furniture should connect and tie the sunroom to the rest of the home in some way, whether it is colour, form or style. The furniture should also be really appropriate for the activities you expect to occur most frequently in the conservatory. But a big concern that many overlook is the sunroom furniture’s resiliency. Solariums, by nature, have a lot of direct sunlight and the furniture and its fabric should be designed to withstand natural light.

Sunroom Function

Be honest about what the room will be used for. If it’s simply for visual impact and having a cup of coffee then have a comfy chair and a side table and lots of visual elements or plants that speak to the view outside. If it’s a child’s playroom then provide ample storage, functional flooring and few plants on table or ground level.

Lighting in the Sunroom

As mentioned above, sunlight is a major concern in a home solarium. It can kill plants, fade furniture, make it difficult to read computer screens, and provide too much warmth if not handled appropriately. Most sunrooms have well thought out blinds that can be adjusted throughout the day with ease so the benefits of the sun can be fully exploited.

These tips should help create a sunroom that has aesthetic appeal and a cohesive feel with the rest of the house. They will also make the solarium more functional and a room that can be enjoyed by everyone.