A little (outdoor) room for improvement

Room for Improvement , my outdoor seating area

How creative can you get with £50?

The thing about owning a house is that there are always jobs to be done.  Always room for improvement.  In our case, we’ve had more jobs than most considering we bought a total renovation project.  Even though the more immediate ‘big’ renovations have thankfully been done (gutting existing rooms and decorating from scratch, moving/removing door-frames, walls and windows etc. – I wrote about this in 2011) and the next step is to extend our house, there are still little things I’d like to do.

So, when the comparison website,, asked me to take part in their ‘Room for Improvement‘ challenge I thought ‘why not?’.  The idea is to spend £50 (which was given to me by the comparison website) on improving a room in your home to encourage creativity and show that even simple little things can make a big difference to a room.  As an added bonus, everyone who takes part by the end of today gets entered into a draw to win £500 of B&Q vouchers.

Because of the nature of the renovations we’re doing (the rooms that will be unaffected by the extension have been redecorated in the last year or 2 and the rooms that will be affected by the building of an extension will only have to be redecorated again after that’s completed), I decided to improve an outdoor space.

We have a patch of decking towards the back of our garden where our shed is housed.  Earlier this year we added a table and chairs with the intention of making it a place for us to dine when it’s gloriously hot and sunny.  As you can see from these photos, it looks OK but it’s a bit…well, boring.  It’s not really a space where you’d want to sit, relax and while away the hours is it?

Room for improvement - the 'before' photograph
The challenge got me thinking, how can I make this space more homely?

One of the first things I did was to finally get a couple of items out of storage – a tall, outdoor cone light that changes colour as night slowly falls and our fire-pit that hasn’t seen the light of day since we bought it at the start of the year.  My husband and I had been storing them both away until all the work on our house is finished, so that we could enjoy them properly.  But, what’s the point of having things if you don’t enjoy them, right?  So I swiftly got them out of the garage and plonked them on the decking.

The next thing on my to-do list was to scour the internet and hunt down some pretty things to buy.  A few things caught my eye, namely:

  1. 20 solar star lights from Argos (£11.99)
  2. A funky teacup planter made from willow by Ella James Living (£ten)
  3. Three table tea light holders from Tesco, one red, one blue and one green (£2 each)
  4. A wall mounted bird candle holder (available on the Very website for £ten)

All in all, when I took delivery costs into consideration (£7.70 in total), I spent £45.69.  Not bad at all.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing this post, the candle holder (which was the main item I wanted and would have been the centre piece of the area, mounted to the brick wall as a feature) has not yet arrived and therefore can’t be considered as part of my entry for the ‘Room for Improvement’ challenge.  It’s a real shame because I think it’s going to add something really special to the look of the area but I’ll update this post as soon as it arrives and I get it installed.

In the meantime, I put my interior (or should that be exterior?) design skills to the test.  I put up the solar lights around the shed roof which give off a nice, subtle glow as the afternoon turns to dusk; I rearranged the furniture slightly to make room for the cone light, fire-pit and a small rattan table that was going spare from an old outdoor furniture set; I plumped and arranged cushions for the chairs and then set the planter and tea lights down on the tables.  They’re all small, simple things but I think it’s made a real difference, what do you think?

Room for improvement - the 'after' photograph

Room for Improvement Collage

Relaxing in the outdoor seating area after the Money Supermarket 'Room for Improvement' challenge

I think it looks much more appealing as a seating area and is definitely a more relaxing outdoor space.  I can’t wait to add the wall mounted candle holder as a finishing touch and I’m thinking of using the last of the £50 to buy a small pot of masonry paint and letting the kids paint handprints over the brick wall too.

What do you think of my efforts?  Did I make it more of a room with a view?


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