Today, courtesy of unstinting optimism that the skies will remain sunny, Colin and Justin are turning their attentions to the great outdoors.
Prepare for an outpouring of patio pointers and terrace tips, composed to help you plan relaxing afternoons and casual evenings in temperate bliss.
If starting from scratch and building a whole new terrace or deck, it's important to choose a top quality lumber product such as Western Red Cedar. Think twice, buy one, right? While other decking materials can generate greenhouse gasses (synthetic or concrete coated decking products particularly) Western Red Cedar has actually been shown to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.
Furthermore, unlike brick, cement and composites, it's renewable and biodegradable and sourced from the most sustainably managed forests in the world. It can even be left untreated (it'll take on a lovely silvery grey patina) due to its structural integrity.
If you're reworking what you already have, it's amazing what you can do -- with just a little expense -- to make the great outdoors even greater. Here's our ultimate guide to getting it right...
- Scan your 'hood for inspiration and take photos of things you like. Look upon this as "external mood boarding." Consider all your options and, if necessary, make a 3D model or plot everything out on graph paper.
- Before so much as thinking of furniture and accessories, ensure space is well maintained. Use a power washer to remove grit and grime. Doing this won't simply clean, it'll reveal the original tones and patina of your decking.
- Treat your timbers. Apply wood preservative to inhibit moisture ingress and sun damage. The team at your local Home Hardware will help you choose the best products.
- If you have any slabbed areas, clean between each tile (the manicure comes later) and apply weed killer to inhibit further problems.
- Be sure-footed; it's best to avoid glossy surfaces in outdoor areas. We sometimes add sand to exterior floor paint to provide extra grip. Around a cup of medium gauge per gallon should suffice.
- Choose lighter colours to help reflect heat so your terrace stays cool.
- If you have grass, think Wimbledon; invest in a mower and start striping your verdant patch. A clipped lawn suggests overall garden care.
- To avoid your porch becoming a messy stop-off point for kitchen garbage, buy colour-coded crates and ensure they don't overflow. If space is tight, sort refuse into bags and head for your nearest recycling centre. You know it makes sense.
- Consider the way your furniture relates to the rest of the exterior. Plunder detail from your home's architectural period -- rooflines, eaves, etc -- and mirror these aesthetics via outdoors propping. Mixing and matching is fun, but respecting your home's architectural "vernacular" pays dividends.
- Bright potted flowers will add drama -- nowadays you needn't be an expert to achieve great results -- even big box stores have horticulture bred to challenge abject conditions.
- Hanging baskets, too, are a great way to add pop, although remember that, on hot days, they can dry out in less than an hour.
- A few carefully selected cushions will add "pop" to the plainest furniture, while decorative outdoors crockery will awaken even the most boring table.
- Tuck tea lights into storm jars and light citronella candles to keep bugs at bay. It'd be hellish to find a plague of yellow jackets sucking the life out of your balsamic dressing as you serve up that achingly cool walnut and arugula salad. Stung tongue, anybody? Thought not.
DECK MAKEOVER BEFORE
Unused space is unloved space, a well dressed deck will transform your time outdoors this summer...
Preparation is key. Slap on the paint (especially in outside application) and it'll flake off quickly. Sand everything carefully, however, and lovingly apply finish layer by layer, and everything will endure for longer.
C&J watchwords: safety and glamour. Working to a strict design, our builders removed the old railings, installed a secure top rail and side supports and filled the main area with decorative X-frame motifs. To act as a wind shield on breezier days, we applied timber sections at the rear and painted these black to help them "disappear." The X detail, painted white, really pops and, in doing so, brings the overall vision to life.
As previously discussed, we're hoping for a warm summer. That said, with every hot day comes the prospect of unexpected downpours that can potentially damage less than weatherproof furniture. We love genuine wicker, but the thought of our clients heaving everything in and out between showers made us feel sufficiently guilty that we employed wicker look-alike plastic to better cope should storm clouds loom.
Even with potent precipitation, this rug will remain comfy underfoot and impervious to mould and fibre "collapse." Most outdoor rugs tend to be one colour, but this one has a big traditional damask print that adds a wonderful layer of visual interest.
Acrylic mirrored section
Treated to the same colour scheme as the rest of the deck, and with acrylic mirror sections installed to bounce light and conceal dated louvre doors, the rear elevation (it's actually a tool shed) suddenly takes on the look of a coach house. Remember to place mirrors thoughtfully -- birds can find them invisible and fly into them so use in moderation at low level. Lamps, flanking the doors, complete our transformative vision
With stunning natural forestry providing a verdant backdrop, all that remained was to add faux box-ball topiaries. Simple, cost-effective and, with no trimming required, no overgrown or shapeless forms to contend with further down the line.
Real cedar decks can add a natural and beautiful addition to your home...
In essence, with planning, it's easy to transform your lacklustre patio into a brightly manicured, exciting haven. We suppose we're all familiar with the maxim bring the outdoors in, but -- should the mercury remain in the ascendant -- perhaps it's finally be time to take your indoor sunshine out. Jaunty tablecloths at the ready? We'll see you next time.
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