Turn your little ones' fingers green with this Garden Tool Kit from Great Little Trading Company, currently £22.40.
So the school summer holidays are upon us. To me this means less crowded trains, but to my friends with children it means occupying little ones for weeks and weeks and praying it doesn’t rain.
If it is good weather, one way to keep your little darlings busy is to get them helping out in the garden.
And what better way to create the next Alan Titchmarsh or Charlie Dimmock than with this Garden Tool Kit from Great Little Trading Company.
Comprising spade, rake, hand trowel, hand fork and matching gloves, it’s got everything a little gardener needs to help Mum or Dad make their outside space look absolutely beautiful.
Give your outdoor lighting a contemporary feel with these Box Lanterns from Daisy West, £15.75.
With warmer evenings hopefully on their way, it’s time to embrace one of my favourite summer pastimes; dinner in the garden.
I don’t know about you but, for me, there’s nothing nicer than sitting in the garden eating dinner with a glass or two of vino.
Whether it’s a relaxed, after-work supper or entertaining friends at the weekend, adding some outdoor lighting is a great way to create atmosphere and make the most of your evenings, long after the sun has gone down.
Lanterns are the perfect choice as they can withstand the odd breeze, and I love these Box Lanterns from Daisy West.
Simple in design, they suit both contemporary and classic outdoor spaces and, best of all, come as a set of two which makes them an absolute bargain.
Get green fingered this spring with our pick of the best herb pots.
With the dull and rainy weather evident, there’s no better time for some indoor gardening using the best herb pots to plant your produce.
The Herdy Herb Pot from Heal’s looks cute on the worktop and makes planting herbs fun, even for little ones! While the Orla Kiely Herb Pot from Bloomsbury would look stylish inside or outside, filled with coriander or basil.
(Clockwise from top) Large Herb Pot from Garden Trading, £9, Herdy Herb Pot from Heal’s, £23, 3 Herb Pots on a Tray from Garden Trading, £18, Orla Kiely Herb Pot from Bloomsbury, £27.95, Herb from Garden Beet, £28, Herb Pot Selfwatering Dark 13cm from 95% Danish, £38.
Illuminate your outside space with this handy guide to the best outdoor lighting
When adding the finishing touches to our interiors, lighting is one of the most important considerations. Most of us will spend hours choosing the perfect light fittings, finding gorgeous lamps to fill dark corners and adding cosy candles to the dinner table. Yet, many people completely forget about lighting one of the most important areas of the home; the outside space. Whether you have acres of land or just a tiny balcony making sure your outdoor space is given the treatment it deserves.
It is really important to plan properly for new lighting additions to your outdoor space to ensure that you create a unique living area that is accessible after dark. Safety-wise, consider which areas it is crucial to light well; stairs and pathways may benefit from some brighter lighting options, for instance. When it comes to more decorative lighting think about what sort of atmosphere you wish to create; colourful fairy lights are perfect for creating a fun sociable atmosphere, whilst lanterns will help to create a much more intimate feel. Most importantly, ensure that all lighting is waterproof, and any additions which are not low voltage should be installed by a qualified electrician.
Adding a few candle lit lanterns and pretty tea lights to your garden is the quickest and most effective way of creating a warm and cosy area for relaxing in. These hurricane lamps from Nordic House have a gorgeous rustic finish which means they will look as if they’ve been in your garden for years! Lamps and lanterns are particularly versatile as they can be used as a lovely table centre piece, when dining al fresco, hung from hooks on the patio for effective mood lighting or scattered across decking and pathways for a pretty night time twinkle.
These bamboo lanterns from Garden Trading are perfect for recreating a relaxing holiday atmosphere. The lantern sits on top of a long pole which can be pushed into the lawn or flowerbeds for a quirky way to light your garden.
Wall lights are a great option if you have limited outside space, as well as being an ideal way to illuminate your porch or the area immediately outside your door. Based on a traditional stable lamp this outdoor wall light from Heal’s would be perfect for lighting an outdoor eating area, and can also be used inside as a porch light or over the back door.
This contemporary style aluminium wall light from Heal’s uses a unique circular design with a glass and aluminium finish, for a sleek and modern addition to the garden.
If you have a path in your garden, or leading to your outside space, it is important to provide some lighting in this are to ensure that you and your guests can move about the space easily and without any risks. However unlike deck lighting, which is usually bedded into the floor, there are plenty of free standing options available for lighting your path which means you can really make a feature of it.
These completely unique tulip lights from Garden Beet will provide a giant pop of colour to your outdoor space, and would look absolutely stunning positioned along a dark pathway. Although they are slightly on the pricey side the tulip lights are a great way of injecting colour into a space that perhaps doesn’t have the luxury of flowerbeds or a lawn, and will certainly make your outside space a real talking point.
These tall oil lamps from Nordic Home, are a touch more subtle in their slate colour scheme but will certainly still make an impact on your path. Available in two sizes, depending on your space requirements, these lamps will look striking in any garden; and with the long lasting nature of oil burning, you can have fun outside for the whole night.
For the eco-conscious amongst you, it might be important to consider the ways to light your outside space using solar or eco-friendly lighting options; and as well as being good for the environment it can often be up to 80% cheaper to run than traditional lighting methods. Solar lights require no electricity as they use specially designed batteries which stores energy from the sun in order to automatically provide soft lighting after dark. There are solar lighting options available at all good DIY stores, such as Homebase but it is important that you position lights in a sunny spot to ensure they acquire enough energy to run in the evening.
There are plenty of great outdoor lighting options to choose from no matter what kind of outside space you have, meaning you can utilise every nook and cranny to make your garden a cosy and intimate, or colourful and sociable, place to be. So dust off those fairy lights and get ready to enjoy the long summer evenings in your new living space!
Whether you have a postage stamp patio or ample acreage, smarten up your garden with our Buyer’s Guide to Garden Furniture.
The consecutive sunny Bank Holidays have got us thinking about our gardens. With so much focus on interiors it is easy to forget that, clement weather permitting, the garden really is an extra room of your home. Whether you consider it as an extra dining space or just somewhere to recline, relax and watch the clouds go by; we’ve compiled this helpful guide to help you find the perfect furniture for your garden.
Planning and space
There is plenty to think about before deciding on outdoor furniture. Consider what look you want to achieve; a cottage style garden may seem a natural fit for traditional wooden furniture, but a striking look could be achieved by playing with modern designs and textures. The smooth surface of the Bubble Garden Chair Range from Heal’s, would lend a contemporary feel to a country garden whilst reflecting the plants around it.
Think about how you want your furniture to function and how this might affect its placement. In a typical British summer you may want to avoid positioning outdoor furniture in areas that are predominantly shaded, so work out if there is a suitable surface in sunnier spots, as some garden furniture requires hard standing.
A final factor to consider is storage. If space is limited, or depending on your choice of material, your garden furniture may need to be stored when not in use. If you do not have suitable internal storage opt for weatherproof materials or think about folding or stacking furniture.
Wooden tables and chairs
Wood garden furniture is the perfect choice if you want a more organic, tactile look and furniture that will acquire character as it weathers and ages. Choose hardwoods with naturally high oil content, such as teak, cumaru and eucalyptus, as this makes them weather resistant. Best of all wooden furniture can be left outside all year round and washing once a year with soapy water is usually sufficient to remove algae and pollution.
John Lewis has a wide selection of wooden garden furniture approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, making them an environmentally responsible choice so you can make your garden even greener. The Verona Outdoor chair from John Lewis have an almost 1930s appeal, constructed from hardy dark stained eucalyptus in an attractive curved shape.
Resin tables and chairs
Synthetic resin furniture is often categorised as the budget option, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. Resin gained popularity for its strength and weather resistance, but it is also an ideal material for moulding unusual shapes and textures. The driade tokyo pop stool from A White Room, is made using monobloc polyethylene and is available in a range of neutral colours that make us think they would look rather enchantingly fungi-like dotted around a modern garden.
Plastics needn’t only be contemporary however, as demonstrated by the charming stone effect Corinthian Round Dining Table from Sweetpea and Willow.
Woven tables and chairs
Whilst natural wicker and rattan is appealingly tactile and traditional, it does not make for the most hardwearing of outdoor furniture. However if you want the texture and feel of rattan but with added weather resistance, try the Sublime 2 Seater Canape garden chair from Sweetpea and Willow, which is constructed using traditional craftsmanship methods and a 100% recyclable synthetic fibre.
Loungers and Sun beds
If you want to make the most of the summer rays, invest in a couple of loungers or sun beds. If you’re serious about comfort, the Bikeezy Flow Lounger from Occa Home is a great option and best of all it is maintenance free leaving more time for, well, lounging. The elegantly shaped Alanda Black Lounger from Sweetpea and Willow would look striking in both contemporary and classic style gardens.
Alternatively, if you want more flexibility opt for an adjustable sun bed. Many designs, such as the Mallorca Garden Lounger from Heal’s, have adjustable backrest and leg rest angles and the Mallorca Garden Lounger even has a handy drinks table.
Ideas for small gardens
If you have less space, but still like the idea of alfresco dining this summer, the Plus 4 Garden Furniture Range by John Jenkins for Heal’s may be just the thing. If you aren’t keen on stacking plastic or folding chairs, these chairs have all the solid appeal of wooden outdoor furniture but nest neatly around the table when not in use, taking up just over a tiny 1m2 of space.
A small garden doesn’t mean you are limited to chairs. Even the smallest of suntraps could house the Indian Summer Floral Sun Lounger from The Contemporary Home, which folds into a beach bag sized rectangle.
Another option when you’re pushed for space is a bench. Simple modern styles allow plants to grow around and beneath them, allowing you to recess the bench into flowerbeds to maximise space. The Foras Outdoor Benches from John Lewis come in a range of sizes from 100cm to 180cm.
Stacking garden furniture
If folding furniture seems a little flimsy for your needs, but you want an easy storage solution, look into stacking furniture. The Gloster Roma Stacking Outdoor Chair from John Lewis is made from powder coated aluminium, making it very lightweight and rust resistant so an ideal candidate to be stacked in a spare corner of the garden when not in use.
If none of the above ideas have captured your imagination we may have just the thing – the ultimate in flat pack furniture. If you want something practical (for lounging with a book in one hand and a Pimms in the other…) then there is nothing more quirkily British than the deck chair. With a staggering choice of bright yet durable fabrics, in just about every design you could want, the deck chair is the ultimate opportunity to inject your personality into the often forgotten extra room of your home. Drop a hint to the fickle summer sunshine with Rockett St George’s ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Deckchair.
So fingers tightly crossed for a barbeque summer, and if all else fails make sure you also invest in the ultimate in garden furniture…a water repellent parasol, such as the Quadrant Parasol from Heal’s!
Give your guests a warm welcome with our pick of the best doormats
Everyone knows that first impressions last so what better way to welcome your guests to your home than with a gorgeous doormat?
Long gone are the days of a doormat just being there to wipe your feet on, they are the perfect way to give the entrance of your home a warm, colourful and welcoming feel.
We have everything from dramatic tattoos and pretty birds to a very romantic slogan, so whatever your style, there’s bound to be something that will fit your home perfectly.
Left to right: Welcome Tattoo Doormat, £25, Utility; Birds Kissing In The Tree Doormat, £22.50, Bombay Duck;Multi Colour Coir Doormat, £17.50, Oliver Bonas; Orla Kiely Stem Print Doormat, £30, Heal’s; Just Married Doormat, £22.99, The Contemporary Home
Spruce up your outdoor space with our buyers guide to garden furniture
We’ve had our first taste of summer and with the Chelsea Flower Show opening its doors last week, our minds have turned to gardens. Clueless about plants and flowers, we’ve stuck to what we know best and put together a buyers guide to garden furniture to help you make the most of your outdoor space. Spruce up your garden and enjoy the sun in comfort and style.
Wooden furniture is a popular choice, being sympathetic to the surroundings of the garden. A beautiful natural, tactile and warm material, there’s something really inviting about wooden furniture. But going for wood doesn’t mean you can’t get a contemporary high-style look. Encompass has some fabulously sleek wooden furniture, including chairs, tables and benches. Habitat is particularly good on wood this season with some fantastic chairs, tables and loungers. Softwood furniture requires regular sealing or repainting to protect it from the elements and wicker works best in covered areas. Hardwood is more durable but will still require maintenance and should be covered with tarp in the winter months.
Pros: Natural material in keeping with the garden environment; huge variety of styles and timbers
Cons: requires regular resealing, especially softwood; can be bulky and difficult to store
Metal furniture is available in traditional or modern styles and makes a lovely contrast with the natural surroundings of your garden. Ensure that whatever you buy has a rust resistant coating. Aluminium is a popular choice because it doesn’t rust. Wrought iron has a beautiful traditional look but can be very heavy and difficult to store. The Worm that Turned stocks a great selection of Fermob’s metal garden furniture, available in 24 colours from subtle greens to vibrant pinks. Comprising chairs, tables, swing seats and benches, each collection has its own style identity and each piece its own purpose. Mix and match the colours or use different styles in different areas of the garden. In powder-coated steel with UV and rust protection, Fermob furniture is built to last.
Pros: great range of styles and finishes; stain resistant and easily cleaned
Cons: often not as comfortable as wood; prone to scratches and therefore rust
Folding furniture is particularly good in small gardens and can be stored easily in bad weather. Deckchairs have a lovely nostalgic look to them and there are plenty of folding tables and chairs on the market in both metal and wood. The great thing about folding furniture is its versatility and portability. Heal’s folding Flip chairs and loungers are great. Lightweight and comfortable, they’ve got carrying handles so you can move them around the garden to catch the sun.
Pros: portable and easily stored; great choice of styles and materials
Cons: folding tables tend to be smaller than solid varieties; generally speaking, foldable furniture is not as strong as solid furniture
Synthetic resin wicker furniture combines the traditional charm of wicker with the durability and weather resistance of modern materials. Unlike wood wicker, the resin variety is designed to withstand the elements and will last for years with almost no upkeep. It’s available in all sorts of colours and, because the colour is bonded into the material itself rather than painted on, it won’t fade or peel. Exterior | Interior and In Garden have fabulous ranges of synthetic wicker lounge sets and daybeds with comfortable cushions. Synthetic wicker is available in traditional styles as well as the more contemporary modular lounge sets and sofas. Wicker furniture offers the luxury of real comfort outdoors.
Pros: durable and weather resistant; very comfortable
Cons: can be bulky and difficult to store; don’t leave the cushions out in the rain!
Even if you’re not in the least green fingered, colourful furniture will brighten up your garden and create an inviting outdoor space. Plastic, power-coated metal, and synthetic wicker chairs and tables are available in a great selection of colours. The sculptural plastic Disk chair at Exterior | Interior is fabulous. And there are plenty of colourful hammocks and weatherproof beanbags on the market. Cuprinol’s Garden Shades and Heritage Shades paints are suitable for all garden wood, including furniture. Or simply add some colourful cushions and seat pads.
Pros: brightens up the garden; available in all sorts of materials and styles
Cons: ensure to go for something fade resistant; wood will need regular repainting
Parasols, shade sails and garden lighting will add the finishing touches to your outdoor space. Trolleys and side tables are also great for barbeque parties. Encompass is really good on occasional furniture as has a fabulous range of barbeques and fires. Try Heal’s for hanging lanterns and garden flares. In Garden has a great range of parasols and shade sails, including decorative Indian parasols in jewel-like colours with aluminium cutwork fringing. Mirrors are also a lovely feature outside and have a secret garden feel. Try Graham & Green’s Arched Window mirror or the Rustic Louvre mirror, complete with shutters, at The Worm that Turned.
Let’s hope we’re in for a sizzling barbeque season and the sun is here to stay.
We interview Chris Sneesby, designer of the futuristic Archipod.
The first impression you get from the Archipod is that it could be something out of the future, with its modern and distinctive look.From the outside it looks like it could naturally be a part of your garden like a shed or a tree house, and its spherical shape makes it an interesting and flattering addition to your garden. It has a unique appeal that draws you inside, where I was pleasantly surprised, having been in a prototype of the Archipod myself, to find that it feels extremely spacious. The Pod has a generous amount of light that enters through the roof dome making it feel bigger and more comfortable.
I met Chris at this year’s ‘Grand Designs’ live exhibition and I was immediately intrigued to find out more about the Archipod. I interviewed him to find out where he gets his inspiration from, and what new and exciting ideas he has for the future of the Archipod.
How has your background and experience helped you create Archipod?
I have worked previously for Yorkon, part of the Portakabin Group, for over 13 years, which gave me a lot of experience in the way buildings can be built offsite in controlled conditions and installed.
Who is your main target buyer for the Archipod, and what type of market research did you do prior to building your design?
My main target was the increasing number of people that want to work from home, but are looking for a high quality working environment rather that a glorified shed. I figured the only effective way of doing market research was to build a prototype, get it on a website and see what interest it generated. The power of the internet is phenomenal – within three weeks of the website being launched, it was on the front page of the Danish Financial Times Website – I had people calling me from Copenhagen to see if I would export them.
What makes Archipod unique from anything else?
I think mainly the look of it – a sphere is probably the most difficult shape to make from flat materials, which dissuades people from having a go at it. I also approach it from the angle of making it as good a quality and interesting as possible, rather than compromising the design by making it easier or cheaper to build.
How have you ensured that the pod is environmentally friendly?
I have used fairly traditional and environmentally friendly materials such as timber and plaster rather than plastics or GRP to make the structure. I also made it as efficient to heat as possible by putting plenty of insulation in.
What benefits do you believe that the pod offers to people who will use it as an office/work environment?
It is a warm, quiet and well lit space to work in. Most importantly, there are no distractions such as you get working in the house. People often suggest bigger portholes so that they can see into the garden - I tell them that if they want to look at the garden, then they should focus on their work, and look at the garden when they finish earlier and can relax with a glass of wine. Another advantage is that if you are running a business from it, the cost can be offset as part of the business – it is much more difficult to do this if you build an extension on the house to use as an office.
How well is the pod insulated and how sound-proof is it?
The insulation exceeds that required by Building Regulations – There are two lots of insulation, one of which is loose rockwool in the wall panel, which also acts as a good absorber of sound coming from outside.
How much does the Archipod cost? Does the buyer need to have planning permission?
Prices start at around £12,000 plus VAT. Planning Permission should not be required as it would normally come under Permitted Development, but the customer should always check this with their Local Authority first.
What ideas do you have for the future of Archipod? Do you want to expand and use different materials?
There are lots of ideas for the future – probably too many to mention. We are looking at a bigger pod, and the possibility of joining them together. We are also looking at different claddings such as copper sheeting and painted render.
The Pod is designed primarily to be used as a garden office, but its adaptability opens up opportunities for you to use it as anything from a studio, hobby room, or even a playroom. With such an innovative design, I think that the Archipod will pave the way for future living that will rely on money and energy saving sources.
For more specific information and frequently asked questions about the Archipod, take a look at www.archipod.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add some romance to your garden with these pretty paper lanterns from The Green Apple. From £16
For me, there’s nothing nicer than candlelight in a garden on a balmy summer’s evening. Sure, there’s an amazing choice of solar and electrical lights for your garden available but candlelight is just so much more romantic.
Which is why I adore these paper lanterns from The Green Apple. Made from biodegradable paper, the lanterns are available with or without pretty cut out designs; personally I would opt for the patterned version and use them to create shadows on walls and fences.
Easy to use, you simply pop in some sand to weigh them down and add a tea light. Try adding them to paths or garden beds to create a warm glow long into the night.
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We’re all hoping for a sizzling barbeque season, but if the sun fails to peep through the clouds, a colourful garden is inviting even on a drab day.
We’re all hoping for a sizzling barbeque season, but if the sun fails to peep through the clouds, a colourful garden is inviting even on a drab day. And there’s no need for green fingers: introducing colour with furniture, paint and accessories will bring your outdoor space to life.
Use bright furniture for flashes of colour, leading the eye around the garden. Different furniture types help to zone your outside space: a languorous hammock strung between trees, a colourful bench in a quiet corner, or a bistro-style table and chairs perched on a patio.
Exterior | Interior offers by far the best choice of high-style garden furniture, including modular seating systems with colourful cushions, sculptural lounge chairs in weatherproof polymers, and beanbag-style chaises for lazy afternoons. The Ami collection is fabulously tactile with bold weaves and upholsteries in innovative materials, designed expressly for exterior use.
The Worm that Turned stocks a great selection of Fermob’s metal garden furniture, a timeless choice from France, available in 24 attractive shades. Comprising chairs, tables, swing seats and benches, each collection has its own style identity and each piece its own purpose. Mix and match the colours or use different styles in different areas of the garden. In powder-coated steel with UV and rust protection, Fermob furniture is built to last.
If you’re looking for a statement piece, the Wave hammock by Royal Botania at Encompass is spectacular. With a built-in sun canopy, it rotates 360° appearing to float from one fixed point. Designed for year-round exterior use, its polished steel frame and turquoise awning make a stunning architectural feature.
Colourful Fences and Walls
Painting a tired fence or wall is a simple way to add impact to your garden with colour. Cuprinol’s [http://www.cuprinol.co.uk] Garden Shades and Heritage Shades are suitable for all garden wood, including furniture as well as fences, arbours and decking. Formulated to complement the natural colours in the garden, the range includes vivid brights (Forget Me Not), moody hues (Lavender) and subtle tones (Willow) for the perfect backdrop.
For garden walls, Sto offers a premier range of extremely hardwearing paints, colourfast in all weather conditions. Preventing water from gripping to the surface, StoLotusan Color is self-cleaning; the dirt simply washes off in the rain, keeping the surface looking good for longer. With up to 800 shades to choose from, find the perfect colour match with your planting scheme or create a stand out feature wall with year-round impact.
Vibrant tableware, parasols and planters bring personality to the garden, adding accents of colour or unifying a theme. Shade sails have a real romance about them, creating enticing spaces. In Garden stocks shade sails in a variety of sizes, shapes and colourways, ideal over dining areas. A colourful oilcloth will instantly lift your outdoor table. Just Wipe has a huge selection while Cath Kidston is great for distinctive prints. And don’t forget the birds. Give them a home to be proud of with a colourful and quirky Astoria nesting box.
Hanging lanterns, garden flares and tea-light holders bring drama and colour into the evening. Available at Skandium, Alvar Aalto’s Votive tea-light holders in the iconic Aalto shape come in 10 colours, fantastic dotted along a wall. Exterior | Interior offers a great range of colourful planters, including the Vases collection with internal LED lighting. A beautiful chrome fire-pit from Encompass will reflect the colours, and reward your efforts.
So all you need to do now is sit back and relax, crack open a beer and keep your fingers crossed for some all-important sun.
Add a quirky twist to your garden with these Big Scrubber seats from Hen & Hammock. £290
If you’re looking for something a little different when it comes to garden furniture, I might just have found the thing for you.
Forget directors' chairs and deckchairs, these Big Scrubber seats designed by Ben Baker are just the ticket to add some quirky charm.
Made from willow canes and topped with a solid ash seat, they have been designed to look like big scrubbing brushes.
I think they’re absolutely adorable and can’t wait to get my hands on one.
Trying using them around a low table for relaxed garden suppers or use one alone to make a real statement.
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Add a quirky twist to your garden with the Blooming Bench from Benchmark. £377
People often look amazed when I tell them I live in London AND have a garden. I can’t blame them, it’s one of those statements that are often met with oohs and ahhs by fellow metropolis-dwellers.
And while it isn’t exactly Kew, it is wonderful to have some outdoor space to relax in and call my own.
Due to the impending heat wave (yeah right!) I’ve been thinking a lot of summer parties, family barbecues and cosy al fresco suppers for two, but what I would really like is a piece of statement furniture to give my garden an edge.
Sadly, it’s too small an amazing daybed or stunning swing but I’ll certainly be making room for this Blooming Bench from Benchmark.
Designed by Benchmark’s in-house team, this bench cleverly incorporates a large terracotta pot into its design. Absolutely perfect for those who don’t have space for both, the bench is made from Oak and the pot from terracotta.
It is without a doubt the most original bench I have seen for some time and I can’t wait to get in my garden.