Experienced renovator Becky Lane knows how to make the most of a tiny budget. And she’s proved it by transforming a crazy paving-covered courtyard into a stylish suntrap for just £100!
Becky, who shares her affordable home decorating tips on her Instagram account @21oakham, has created an outdoor escape on a shoestring at her family's new house in Surrey after cracking out the pressure washer and paint.
And even though she's spent so little. she’s nailed some of the key garden ideas identified by MyToolShed as top trends for 2021. Her secret, she reveals, is to do as much as you can yourself, upcycle and buy second hand.
‘We recently bought another renovation project – this is the third property we have done up,’ says Becky. ‘With summer fast approaching, we wanted to create a space to relax and chill in but on a budget. We struggled to see online any good crazy paving transformations which are in so many gardens in the UK.’
‘When we can, we do the work ourselves. For decking and electrics, we get the professionals in. Everything else, we watch YouTube videos to see how people have done it. There is definitely a golden rule of “Know your limits!” If in doubt, get a contractor for safety.’
Becky’s confidence in the DIY abilities of herself and her husband was boosted by the fact that the work they’d done making over the garden of their previous south-east London home had earned them the Ronseal Lockdown Garden award.
Determined to keep the costs down, Becky and her husband got stuck in by washing and weeding the dismal-looking space.
‘We started by jet washing the whole courtyard. I then removed all the dead shrubs and weeds. Once the paving was washed we painted it using white masonry paint. This acted as a primer but also allowed us to see all the cracks a lot easier in the paving.
'My husband watched some YouTube videos on how to use ready-mixed mortar to fill in all the cracks. We upcycled the pots we found in the garden left by the previous owner again with white masonry paint to give them a new lease of life.’
Apart from using the freebies the old owner had left behind, savvy Becky saved money by buying pre-used and pre-loved items. ‘With everyone being more environmentally responsible now, the online second hand marketplace is huge. If we upcycle or reuse a second hand item it can allow us to splash out more on a statement piece.
- Keep reading: 40 decking ideas to enhance your backyard or garden
In her makeover, Becky hit most of the key style trends that MyToolShed predicted for the summer, including using neutral colours as a base or backdrop, going for classic monochrome furnishings, letting bold shades pop through planting, using bamboo screens for a rattan vibe and pulling the look together with an outdoor rug for Mediterranean style.
‘To save on time, effort and money on painting the fence we bought bamboo screens and screwed them to the fence posts and panels,’ she says
‘We got an old rusty swing frame from Facebook Marketplace that we have spray painted black for our courtyard and added a rope swing chair to it which we have now nicknamed the Adults Drinking Chair!
“I love the harshness of the monochrome popping out against the more neutral colours. It excites the eye the moment you look at it but then you can also see the softer colours and textures mixed in.’
And she has some excellent tips for would-be gardeners who want to learn from the money-saving master: ‘I find if you make a mood board looking at your favourite Instagram or Pinterest accounts it really helps. Start with a vision and shop with that as a guide. Don’t shop without a clear end goal because you may end up with loads of random pieces.’