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Real home: Revamped garden has a festival feel

Inspired by hotel resorts and music festivals, Leila and Joe have created an urban tropical garden to be proud of

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

After knocking through three rooms to create a 30ft kitchen-diner, the last stop in Leila and Joe’s renovation journey was the garden. ‘It was very unloved with an uneven patio, which got even more unsteady after the builders piled their materials on there,’ says Leila. ‘By the end, the lawn was an unsalvageable swamp.’

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The owners Leila Davidson, an HR advisor, her partner, Joe Peddie, a civil and structural engineer, and their cats, Zephyr and Laszlo
The property A three-bedroom period townhouse, built around 1904, in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire
Project cost £5,106

Before

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

The old garden –  a dull space with cracked paving and brown shed

(Image credit: Leila Davidson)

The couple painted the shed and fence black themselves, before hiring local landscaper Dave Edmondson in May 2020, when tradespeople could work outside. ‘My friend used him a few years ago, so we didn’t get any other quotes,’ says Leila. ‘We were all DIY-ed out, busy with work and didn’t know where to start with laying paving, so we were happy to bring in a professional.’  

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

A coat of black paint transformed the shed and fences, but the rest of the plot still needed work

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Leila researched hardy plants and gathered ideas for urban tropical gardens before planning the space and garden design using a tool on gardena.com. ‘It faces north east, so we get sun in the morning and it’ll creep up the garden until about 6pm in summer,’ she says. ‘I wanted the garden to be based around the sun, and I knew there was room for two patios.'

After

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

The corner sofa is on the top patio, perfectly placed to catch the sun. Monochrome rug and black lantern, Ikea (opens in new tab). Outdoor sofa and coffee table, Argos (opens in new tab). Blanket, Furn (opens in new tab). Round jute rug, Hilary & Flo (opens in new tab). Tray, Emma J Shipley (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The seating area has been placed in the sunniest spot. ‘We could’ve moved the shed as that area would get even more sun,’ says Leila. ‘But it would’ve cost a fortune and wouldn’t have been practical.’

A contemporary L-shaped sofa and matching coffee table gives ample space for friends and family. As it has a cover, the sofa can stay out all year round, while the outdoor rugs are durable and easy to clean. 

‘A lot of garden furniture was really expensive but this was so affordable,’ says Leila. ‘It doubles up as a sun lounger too, so I jumped on it when it came back in stock. Sourcing garden furniture was one of the biggest challenges, as so much was sold out with everyone staying at home during lockdown.’

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

After creating a new kitchen-diner, the new outdoor dining area is positioned outside for easy access. Magma Grey porcelain patio tiles, Crown Tiles (opens in new tab). Oak bench (painted), Furniture & Choice (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Large scale light grey paving slabs were carefully chosen for the patio to mimic a hotel terrace feel. ‘I wanted the garden to feel like an escape, like you’re on holiday,’ says Leila. ‘So I went for smooth, non-slip porcelain tiles. They heat up in the sun and are nice to walk on barefoot.’ 

Because of delays sourcing materials, the work took three months, finishing in July. ‘We missed all the sunny months and then it rained,’ laughs Leila. ‘But I’m proud of the garden and there is nothing I’d change; two years later we still love it.’

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

The table looks out over a much neater lawn, while a collection of lights adds atmosphere. Dining table, VidaXL (opens in new tab). Metal chairs and place mats, Dunelm (opens in new tab). Seat pads, Matalan (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The table was purchased the following summer to complete the outdoor dining space. ‘It had to seat eight to 10 people and I wanted a black design to keep things monochrome,’ says Leila. ‘I love the sleek design, and since it has a wipeable glass top, I’ve just left it out all year round.’ 

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

A profusion of outside lights creates a festival feel. Hanging lanterns, Ikea (opens in new tab) festoon lights, B&M (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Lighting was an important finishing touch to make the garden into an outdoor room. ‘I wanted a space we could still enjoy in the evenings, so we put up festoon lights above the seating area,’ says Leila. ‘I also love paper lanterns and often hang them in the trees. They give the garden a bohemian feel and remind me of walking around the Glastonbury festival.’

Contacts

Furniture VidaXL (opens in new tab); Argos (opens in new tab)
Patio tiles Crown Tiles (opens in new tab)

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

The raised planters surrounds the seating area with colourful flowers. Planters painted in matt black Cuprinol 5 Year Ducksback (opens in new tab). and floor lantern, Matalan (opens in new tab). White moon solar lights, Ikea (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Although they originally wanted brick planters, Leila and Joe had to re-think their plans to save money. ‘Dave had spoken to a bricklayer and it was going to cost a couple of thousand pounds,’ says Leila. ‘Then we explored breeze blocks and rendering, which we didn’t have the budget for either. In the end, Dave built the planters himself from wood and we painted them in the same black outdoor paint as the shed and fence.’

Plain lawned garden turned into social space with a festival feel

The dining table is picture perfect on a sunny day. Table runner and cushions, B&M (opens in new tab). Blue plant pot, Asda (opens in new tab). Plates and lemon vase, TK Maxx (opens in new tab). Blue bowls, Ikea (opens in new tab) 

(Image credit: Katie Lee)
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