Tuesday, 28 June 2016

FEW WORDS ABOUT TIMBER DECKINGS



Patio or deck? This seems to be the big debate these days when people are doing their garden make-overs. We have just finished ours (see the before and after pictures here) and I've come to the conclusion that there is no right answer to this question. It all depends on your lifestyle, garden layout, type of property you live in etc.

We installed a timber decking in our newly landscaped garden two months ago and quite a few people I spoke to were not quite as convinced it's a good idea. I was told that decks are old fashioned, slippery when it rains, difficult to maintain and will begin to look drab after a year or two. I haven't had the decking long enough to comment on the durability (although ours came with a 10 year guarantee against rot) but I thought it might be helpful to list some pros and cons for anyone who is having the same dilemma.

Let's start with the Pros.

Physical Appearance
There's no denying that timber deckings look great when they've been first installed and it's the natural look that really appeals to me. Our decking blends in well with our leafy garden and brings texture and warmness to the garden décor. Of course it's all a matter of taste but this was a big selling point for me.

The Added Space

I really wanted our outdoor area to connect with the indoors so it feels like one large room and thanks to our new decking I feel I've achieved that. Having double doors opening onto the garden helps of course and you do sometimes forget where the garden begins and ends. Well designed decking can definitely make a house appear bigger than it is in reality and it's a lot cheaper than building an extension.

Comfortable Barefoot
I tend to walk in the house barefoot so it's a bonus that I don't have to put on shoes when I step onto the decking. It feels warm and cosy to walk on and for some extra comfort I actually use outdoor rugs (well they are indoor rugs but you can of course use them outdoors too). The rugs also make the outdoor space feel like a second living room and our children love playing on them.

Cost
Let's face it, deckings are cheaper and easier to install. If you choose to go for hardwood or a composite decking you will easily triple the price but the cost and labour versus pavement will be even bigger.

Accessibility
It's actually quite important that the materials you are sourcing are easily available. What if you have a problem in the future and you need some part of the decking/patio replaced? It's not unknown for things to go wrong and if your supplier is across the continent it can be a real problem. Most DIY shops sell timber decking boards but it's worth finding a reputable supplier directly in my opinion.

Suitability
Decks are easy to install and pretty straight forward to work with since the supports can be cut to any height. If you don't have a perfectly even ground it's not a problem, you can install a decking on a sloping garden which many people don't realise. You have a lot of options in terms of design as well, decking boards can be moulded and cut to any size you want.

Lighting
It's very easy and affordable to add a few LED lights to your decking to give it a real wow factor and most people seem to do that these days. Our deck lights have a timer so they switch on every night at 8 PM. Very easy and hassle free!







Now here are some Cons.

Maintenance
Timber is a natural material so you need to look after it. Our decking was pre-treated but it doesn't mean that it won't change its colour if you leave it as it is. Some people like their decking to weather beautifully to match the nature around them. This means that it will end up looking rustic grey. That's not really the look I'm going for, at least at the moment, so I will get our decking stained by the end of the summer. I will let you know how it looks like afterwards but I'm probably going to pick a natural looking colour that will blend in with our railway sleepers (which by the way have been oiled).

Clean up
I do think that dirt is more visible on deckings but it's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that your hangout area is clean at all times. I hoover any excess leaves with a hand hoover and once a month mop it with water and a bit of soap. So far this is working great for us and it's looking clean and fresh.

Imperfections
Since timber is a natural product it will have some imperfections and the colour will change with time. Knots in the wood are also pretty visible and there's not much you can do about them as they don't recommend you using wood fillers outside. You do get used to them. They were bothering me in the beginning but I don't notice them now. It's also not ideal that you can see visible screws on the deck but they blend in with the pattern pretty well.

Gaps
Timber is a natural material so you need to leave expansion gaps on the decking. That's why you will see small gaps between the boards. It doesn't actually look bad but you just need to make sure you don't take your credit card out and drop it or you may never see it again!


I am pleased that we got a timber decking in the end. I love how it looks and it goes very well with the type of property we've got and flows beautifully with the rest of the house. It also suits our lifestyle believe it or not. We love to socialise and relax in the garden and I wanted to create a comfortable outdoor living area that we can all enjoy during the summer. It feels like a second living/dining room now and our children love playing on the deck so much that rainy days are quite a disappointment these days.

Composite deckings are a great alternative to timber deckings by the way. They are more expensive but virtually maintenance free. The colour options are pretty unlimited too. You won't get the same natural look though but it all depends on the garden style you are going for. I think composite deckings look stunning in contemporary gardens and you could always have a mix of decking and pavement as well.

There are so many alternatives out there these days that it is not an easy decision at all. Good luck deciding and if there are any pros/cons you'd like to add to my list feel free to leave a comment!

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

LAURA ASHLEY PRESS SHOW AW16

Happy Tuesday! It's officially summer but I had autumn & winter in my mind as I headed to the Laura Ashley AW16 Press Show last week. I know most of you are probably not in the right mindset to think about winter décor just yet, although you may change your mind once you have a look at the new Laura Ashley collections! Beautiful pastels and elegant greys were definitely my favourites and their new season accessories were impressive as usual.

Here are my favourite picks!

I am a big fan of the pineapple trend and it's popularity doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Laura Ashley Pineapple Lamp has been such a success that it is now available in two sizes; medium and large. Pineapple mania doesn't stop there. Now you can buy pineapple candle holders, curtains, wall papers, cushions, lamp shades, mirrors etc. Laura Ashley will be even bringing out new pineapple stationary so there is definitely plenty to choose from. I'm obsessed with the pineapple wallpaper by the way. You could easily make a gorgeous DIY canvas out of it! It's very chic and versatile.



Pastel blue has also been a firm favourite of mine for the past year or so. It's so elegant and I even did a piece about it for the Laura Ashley Blog a while ago featuring some new season accessories (read here). The Evie round mirror (below) was love at first sight. It looks even more stunning in person. I adore the art deco style and it's such a timeless design that you can't go wrong with it. I often think that less is more when it comes to decorating and this piece is a great example of that; so simple and beautiful.

The great thing about decorating with blue is that you can easily mix different shades of blue and they really complement each other. Blue also works very well with light oak furniture and gives the room a nice subtle sophisticated look. I actually think that this particular style goes well with minimalistic Scandi style furniture but of course you can mix it up with some funky prints or wallpaper if you want to make it a bit more interesting.
Now I mentioned about elegant greys before and the new collections showcase them perfectly. Grey is such a timeless colour and with right accessories it can feel very warm and inviting. Pop of pink or pastels seem to go particularly well with grey; it definitely brings warmness to the décor in my opinion.

I couldn't take my eyes off this chair and the Lovina Velour Truffle Cushion which looks very luxurious with the striking geometric pattern. By the way, I would love to see this cushion available in other colours as well! The chair is actually incredibly comfortable to sit on. It would be perfect for a bedroom or a small living room.
I'm always impressed by the Laura Ashley lighting collections. The light fixtures are elegant but there's definitely an industrial trend going on there. The pendant lights have the most wow factor for me but I don't think I could ever get away with one because of our low ceilings. I also love that you can match your pendant lighting with the wall lighting so you can create a consistent look in your home.


I have been busy decorating our outdoor living area and lanterns are definitely my 'must have' accessory at the moment. I use the same lanterns indoors and outdoors and Laura Ashley have a great selection to choose from right now . The larger sizes are more statement pieces so I tend to go for them but there's different sizes to choose from if you want to create a specific look.


So what did you think of the new collections? I was very  impressed and I cannot wait to see them all in the shops in August. If you want to see the rest of the collections, head over to the Laura Ashley Blog. I really like the direction Laura Ashley is going at the moment. There are plenty of timeless pieces as well as some fun prints and quirky accessories. I don't think any of us should take ourselves too seriously and it's nice to be a bit playful with your interiors as well. I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing few more pineapple accessories in our house very soon!

For more information visit www.lauraashley.com

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

GARDEN DECOR



 
The new garden and decking have really transformed our outdoor living space and how we use it (see the before and after pictures here). We seem to spend a lot of time there; whether it's just hanging out or having a meal. It has become our second living room now and I've been trying to make it as cosy as possible in the last few weeks. I'm not finished decorating it yet but I feel like it's all coming together now. We can finally sit down and have a drink - and relax!

It's nice to see that people are putting more effort into their outdoor living spaces these days. It's a clever way of adding some square footage to your home without breaking the bank. Patios and deckings are great for entertaining and can feel like another room in the house. Of course that means that you shouldn't forget to accessorise and decorate your outdoor area; there's really no reason why it can't be as stylish and welcoming as the rest of the house. I like to use same accessories outside that I use indoors. Of course I need to bear in mind that some materials might be more delicate than others which is why it's good to test them first.

Before I started my garden furniture search, I decided a theme/style that I would go for. It makes the whole process easier in my opinion and it also means that the garden will flow well with the rest of the house. That's why it made sense to stick to a monochrome theme. The light timber decking looks striking against black furniture in my opinion and gives the garden a bit of drama. I also happen to love Moroccan style furnishing at the moment and had a few favourite pieces that I wanted to incorporate in this dramatic look.





We decided to go for black rattan furniture to match our old sun loungers. It was quite nerve wrecking trying to find the perfect dining set to be honest. Most garden centres are stocking light grey and brown garden sets at the moment so it seems I'm going against the trend here.

I finally found our Sicilia black rattan dining set from Alexander Francis, and although I was worried about ordering it online, it is the best quality rattan I have seen so far. The size is perfect and it fits 6 people (more if you add extra chairs). The cushions are white (luckily the covers are removable) and it is the most comfortable garden dining set I have ever used. Seriously. I think everyone is so in love with it that we have been having breakfast, lunch, dinner outside if the weather has been good. Our old dining room table certainly doesn't provide the same views to the garden.

Even though I love decorating with black and white, I felt the space needed a bit of colour. I decided to brighten it up with yellow striped cushions from H&M. Lime and yellow are really the only splash of colour you will see in our little monochrome sanctuary. They just seem to go so well with the rest of the garden and bring a bit of colour to our the monochrome theme. I also made sure that our extension décor complemented our garden style. I wanted to create an illusion that they are almost the same open space/room and colour matching is a great way to achieve that.



Our black metal wire side tables are from La Redoute but I should mention that they are not specifically designed for outdoor use. They are metal so I figured they would probably survive the wet, and hopefully sunny, English weather. It's looking pretty good so far although metal tends to scratch quite easily so I use coasters with them. I would consider spray painting them in case they fade or get some nasty water marks. Obviously I wouldn't leave them out for the colder months and I'm hoping to use them indoors during winter. By the way, some indoor furniture can be used outdoors but you may need to treat them first, especially wood. 
Outdoor living space wouldn't be complete without some pretty flowers and plants, right?  I like to stick to easy maintenance plants if I can. I love structural plants and succulents. Succulents are so easy to care for and look pretty all the time. I couldn't resist planting some chili pepper though (I love spicy food) and of course I had to have some white flowers on display as well.





I can't seem to get enough of patterned rugs at the moment (you can read about my new Moroccan rug here). I find that rugs bring texture and softness to any living space and felt our decking was lacking that a little bit. I love the softness when I walk on it barefoot and our children can sit and play on the rug as well (timber can be a bit hard). The black and white patterned cotton rug goes well with black furniture and because it's dark I'm not too worried about it gathering dirt. H&M rugs are also machine washable which is handy.



There are still few things I'd like to get for our outdoor living area. I'd love to add some wall art or ornaments to our décor. Exterior walls and fences can be great for decorative objects and Wayfair have a pretty good selection of garden accessories at the moment. Also, I wouldn't mind a hanging up some fairy lights to our wood fence. Fairy lights are great for parties and you can bring them indoors if you fancy a change!

Tip!

When you are decorating a room/space take as many pictures as possible; before, during and after. I often look at my photos and realise that something is missing. It can be difficult to envision a room that is not complete yet and pictures always help me to look at the space from a different angle.
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