Creative ideas to make your outdoor space look pretty and original

turquoise wall

Helloooooo my lieblings!

Just getting into the swing of my German (ha ha that’s actually the extent of it) gearing up for my wee trip next month.  Solo! For two whole nights!  It’s a watershed moment, people, after 2 years and 3 months of never leaving my baby’s side at night! I’m extremely excited but will be nervous too I imagine when the time comes…

Anyway, that was a completely irrelevant introduction to today’s post where I’ll give you some ideas to prettify your outside space as well as showcasing our beautiful patio!  I’m sorry I wasn’t organised enough to take ‘before’ photos, but trust me when I say the walls were an enticing scuffed grey/beige/cream, and the drain was a portal for rat visits.  Yuck!!!  You know, I’m such a soft hearted monkey these days (Joe’s clearly rubbed off on me after 7 years) that I just felt guilty for writing ‘yuck’ about the rat.  Sorry rat, but you know you weren’t a pretty sight in our living room….(which is a story I will leave to your imagination for now)

turquoise and yellow wall

So back to the patio.  I was thrilled when Joe agreed (and actually had the same idea) to paint it in bright Mexican colours, and I’m so pleased how it turned out.  We very nearly didn’t rent the flat at all because it didn’t have the terrace of our dreams.  Everything else was perfect:  location, price, space, the building, the floors, the central heating (a surprisingly massive number of flats in Barcelona don’t have central heating.  It’s warm most of the year, but it is properly COLD in January and February and there’s nothing worse than not being snug and cosy in your own home, say I. ) But we had our heart set on a sunny terrace where we could have barbecues and a hammock and read in the sun.  And this is an interior patio – it’s light, at least, but gets maybe a 30 minute patch of watery sun a day.  Anyway after intially telling the estate agent’s we didn’t want the apartment I changed my mind after 10 minutes and begged Joe to agree…It still had outdoor space after all, that we would be bound to be able to make pretty with a few plants and a lick of paint.

So we did!

That old wooden chair used to belong to my dad’s family when he was a little boy.  I love the fact that he used to sit on it round the dinner table back in England over 50 years ago, and now here it is on our patio in Barcelona, holding a plant and some pebbles from the beach. Too rickety now for actual use as a chair!

I love the lizards too.  (visible above the chair on the wall)  I first saw these in a cool bar in Raval, Madame Jasmine’s.  So easy to do:  buy a pack of those children’s squashy rubber insect or dinosaur toys from a cheap toy or discount shop, spray them gold, then attach to the wall using blu tack.

pink wall patio

A few succulent plants gifted to us from my friend Clare.  Pebbles hauled back from Barcelona beach.  Cava box and painted stool we found on the street. The flour bread bin donated by Joe’s mum when we first lived together in England. Now a compost holder!

patio pink wall 2

Jamie wouldn’t move out the way, so bonus shot of his back and ‘scuttlebug’ scooter thingie.  Aloe vera plant also found alive and well on the street next to the dustbins.  The beautiful red ceramic pot holding the swiss cheese plant was a present from Joe´s sister Katie, from one of my favourite towns in the world, Ceret.

chairs patio

Table and chairs from Ikea.  Slightly weathered now but actually I think it gives them more character.  Little mirrors a present from Morocco and the hanging candle holders a present from Dubai.  The other candle holders were another present and look so pretty at night when lit.  I made the little shell mobiles hanging on the wall and mirrors by threading fishing wire through shells with naturally occuring holes found on Barcelona beach.

aloe vera patio

We kept a section of the wall for Jamie to paint on.  Now he needs to be trained to write only on this particular wall….

Jamie wall

So here are my tips in summary:

  • Don´t be afraid to see the space as another room in your flat or house.  You can hang pictures or other decorations or ornaments on the walls, as you would an indoor room.
  • Use objects of different heights with different plants on to create interest and depth.  We´ve got an old table we found on the street, a cava box, a stool we found and painted, and my dad´s old wooden chair.
  • Use natural objects, such as pretty pebbles and shells around plants or to demarcate certain areas.  We´ve got some big pebbles from the beach placed around the edge of Jamie´s sandpit, not that they stay there, if he has anything to do with it!
  • If you´re not that green-fingered or you don’t have much light, succulent plants look attractive and need watering very occasionally.
  • Paint the walls bright contrasting colours for a cheerful and uplifting look.  Our patio is only 3 by 4 metres, but it doesn´t look any smaller with the coloured walls.
  • Have different sections to make the maximum use of space.  We´ve got Jamie´s sandpit,  Jamie´s wall that he paints and draws on, 2 corners of plants at different levels and the table and chairs that we use for having aperatives and playing cards on.  How wholely civilised!  Having Jamie´s stuff around isn´t especially chic, or to everyone´s taste, but I love it as long as it´s in its pre-assigned space.  He’s a (major!) part of our family and it´s his home too so I love to see his things next to ours, and they look bright and cheerful.
  • Paint the flower and plant pots different colours for a fun look.
  • Have floor cushions for bohemian lounging.
  • Hang a hammock.  See above.
  • Use lighting for different effects, as you would inside.  I love candles and nighlights and lanterns.  We´re also intending to invest in some outdoor fairy lights.  How festive!
  • Burn incense if that´s your thing (it is mine!  Makes the space belong to you even more, if you follow me)
  • Make liberal use of gold spray paint!  I think our lizards look stylish and cool on the wall.  If they weren´t gold I think they´d look exactly what they are – cheap children’s toys tacked on to the walls!

Do you have any tips or other ideas to make the most of your outdoor space?  Let me know in the comments if so!

I would love to hear from you!

Happy re-vamping,

Jenny xx


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