Restore and repair

We blocked up the back door, which meant we could add almost double the cupboard space, and with the dividing wall gone, we reconfigured the kitchen around a new range cooker and butler sink. We painted the kitchen cabinets, changed the handles, replaced the laminate worktop with solid oak and substituted the old tiles for new white, crackle-glaze metro tiles. The conservatory became our new dining area, and we restored the original parquet flooring in the living area, which had taken quite a pounding during all the work. The new log burner is Matthew’s pride and joy!

home makeover ideas 1

Bathroom Magic

The next thing for Matthew to tackle was the family bathroom. He removed the old-fashioned suite, dated green tiles, black laminate flooring and magnolia gloss ceiling. He then panelled the bottom half of the room and painted the rest, including the ceiling, in a luscious dark blue, giving the small bathroom plenty of character. With both sets of parents nearby we were able to use their bathrooms while he finished the work. A claw-foot, free-standing bath that we found on eBay and restored ourselves takes pride of place. Changing things up Over time, we have replastered and redecorated the front living room and the whole of the upstairs, one room at a time. We ripped up the carpet, restored the floorboards and painted them white.

home makeover ideas

Initially my style was very shabby chic – we had lots of distressed French-style furniture and everything was decorated white or grey – but by the time our son Jude was born in 2018 that simply wasn’t me anymore. I spent much of my maternity leave with a paintbrush in hand and Jude in his bouncer, redecorating most of the rooms and bringing in fab mid-century-style pieces. I adore the results and we now have neutrally painted rooms with fun splashes of colour. Retreat style Our main bedroom is my favourite room with its mix of mustard and pink tones, and the long, elegant, bespoke velvet headboard that Matthew made for us.

home makeover ideas 2

The room now feels luxurious and is our haven away from the chaos of life with little ones. Both children’s rooms feel fresh and modern, complete with lots of little design quirks that bring in some fun and suit their personalities. The once dark front living room is now spacious and light, helped largely by the painted white floor, white walls and pretty, pink painted woodwork.

home makeover ideas 3

A Job Well done The house has come a long way in the four years that we have been living here and we are so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in that time – balancing renovations and redecorating with both family life and our full-time jobs. Matthew has put so much work and effort into the house, skilfully (and patiently!) turning our ideas into reality. We’ve ended up with a spacious, bright and welcoming family home, which reflects all of our personalities and gives our young family room to grow.

home makeover ideas 5 home makeover ideas 4

Discovering colour Getting it right was still a challenge. I painted my bedroom first, in navy blue and fuchsia pink – but I decided to change it after a year. In fact, many of the striking colour combinations in the flat have been a result of trial and error. I had to paint the kitchen three times before I found a colour I was happy with. At first, I fought the fact that the room had no natural light by using light, bright colours, but I just wasn’t happy with any of them. In the end, I decided to try black and pink, and it was the best thing I did. DIYdiva Rather than relying on decorators, I decided to roll up my sleeves and do the painting myself.

I really enjoy painting, it’s peaceful and satisfying and I like to spend my time on it. The striking, diagonal lines throughout the flat were born of necessity rather than design. When I was painting the living room I didn’t have a stepladder, so I couldn’t reach the top of the ceiling. I was standing on a bench on the table! As a quick fix I decided to paint the wall diagonally, going lower, with the aim of finishing it when I got a ladder. 

colorful interior design ideas

But I actually, I really liked it and decided to make that a theme in each of the rooms. Carefully considered I’d describe my style as eclectic. I love a whole mix of things, the furniture and accessories in the flat are a mix of some modern items I fell in love with and some older items that have a real sense of history. I’ve used space-saving ideas that mean there are no forgotten corners – every single nook and cranny has been carefully thought out and put to use.

colorful interior design ideas 1

Bedside tables are wall mounted to maximise space, while the spaces under the staircases have been thoughtfully filled with cosy chairs, bureaus, rugs and lamps. The kitchen table doubles as a wine storage rack and benches stow away under the dining table so there is plenty of space to move around it. The gallery of film posters also helped reshape the flat from a plain white box to a colourful, original living space that’s finally got character.

colorful interior design ideas 2

I did a degree in film, and I really like minimalist movie posters, so I sourced these prints based on their colours and images. Inthe zone The features I love the most are the unusual mezzanine levels. The mezzanines in every room essentially double the space, and have allowed me to create different zones in each one. They give the flat character. In the bedrooms, the beds are upstairs which leaves the downstairs free for a sofa, desk or dressing area. I have a lounge upstairs on the mezzanine level, and the dining area downstairs, next to the kitchen. I think other people who viewed the flat struggled to see how they would use the space, but I fell in love with it straight away.

colorful interior design ideas 3 colorful interior design ideas 4

Finding My style I’m an avid fan of Instagram, which has been an interior inspiration. You can see my journey @sophiecsophiedo. It’s a platform that is full of amazing ideas and it gave me the confidence to do things myself, rather than pay for someone else to do them. I don’t believe anyone does as good a job as you can do yourself – after all, it’s your home! It also really helped me find my interior style. I realised I was drawn to so many different looks and I couldn’t decide if I liked minimalist or maximalist, bright colours or dark… in the end, I decided that if I just bought things that I loved, and put them in a space together, the look would all tie together in the end – and it did!’

 

 

 

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

REVAMP A METAL TABLE

Mirror nature and bring new life to an old metal table with stencilled floral motifs. Use spray adhesive to hold the stencils firmly in place to get precise edges to your chosen pattern. Bostik Fast-Tak Repositionable Spray, £5 paperchase.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

STRIP IT BACK

Take on the trend for all things industrial and remove peeling paint back to bare metal. Brush away loose flakes using a wire brush first, then apply a stripping solution using a paintbrush, scraping the paint away with a putty knife. B&Q Paint & Varnish Remover, £3.80 diy.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

STENCIL ON SLATS

Budget bistro chairs needn’t be bland! Give yours a little colour and character by painting the frame and individual slats in a range of complementary shades. Leave some plain, adding a few different stencilled patterns to the rest. Ta-da! Tärnö Chair, £10 ikea.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

REVIVE NATURAL FIBRES

To bring dry, cracked or split rattan and bamboo back to life, use a paintbrush to apply boiled linseed oil until your furniture will no longer absorb it. Wipe it clean with a soft cloth, then leave it to dry and harden on the furniture before using. Gloss Boiled Linseed Oil, £6 diy.com. Bamboo Conversation Set, £125 wilko.com.

ADOPT THE BLUE TREND

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

This summer’s big colour story is blue, and it will instantly transform a tired bench or table. Use a wire brush to remove peeling paint, wipe clean with warm soapy water and leave to dry. Apply two coats of paint, allowing to dry completely in-between applications. Cuprinol Garden Shades in Coastal Mist (bench) and Pale Thistle (chairs), £11 wilko.com.

TRANSFORM A PLAIN PARASOL

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

This project takes a little time but is well worth the effort. Create a colourful display using laser-cut upturned bunting stencils – find a selection at The Stencil Studio (thestencilstudio.com). Choose a range of bold fabric paints, and stipple on the stencil and around the triangle edges. You’ll need a narrow table to work from – a console table works perfectly here. Place the fabric of the parasol over the table with the pole underneath, in-between the table legs. This will give a flat base to stencil on – simply rotate the parasol segment by segment as you work. Högön Parasol, £35 ikea.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

Use a selection of colourful washi tape, winding it around the chair back and legs, and criss-cross it across the seat. Add some washi tape tags, too, and finish with a faux flower. Instant cheer! Washi Tape, £5/24 theworks.co.uk.

CREATE A COLOUR CONTRAST

Inject new-season style into a tired table and chairs with modern paint tones that clash and contrast. Here, Giddy Green and Flamingo Pink are perfectly at odds! Protek Royal Exterior Range, £16/1L protekwoodstain.co.uk.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

PAINT METAL FURNITURE

Let garden colour spill over from pots and planting and dare to be different, updating furniture in dramatic tones. Clean with soapy water to remove dirt and oil, then use fine sandpaper to remove flaking paint and create a smooth surface Wipe down and spray on multiple light coats of PlastiKote Twist & Spray, £8.35 amazon.co.uk.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

REUPHOLSTER A DECKCHAI

Fabric on garden chairs doesn’t weather well, but it’s easy to give otherwise-fine furniture a re-think and save it from the scrapheap. Simply remove the fabric and use as a template to create new covers.

SIT PRETTY

Macramé is having a moment this summer, and this heritage craft is the perfect way to bring a dated lawn chair back to life. Rip away the old seat webbing and then weave some magic with colourful nylon craft cord and a chunky crochet hook. Search ‘Macramé Lawn Chair’ online for a simple step-by-step tutorial.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

TILE A PATIO TABLE

Make strides towards sustainable living and breathe new life into a coffee table that’s destined for the dump. Use off-cuts of old tiles or unwanted samples to transform a tabletop for just a few pounds, using tile adhesive and a little grout. An afternoon project to be proud of!

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

WAX LYRICAL

If your metal garden furniture is looking a little weary, spruce it up using some car wax, which will help moisture easily run off the surface. Protect all the non-metal areas, then spray on Halfords Spray Wax, £5 halfords.com. Rope Lounge Set, £250 wilko.com.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

RESTORE WEARY WOOD

Wooden garden furniture goes grey over time, but it’s so easy to bring it back to its former glory. Apply Ronseal Hardwood Garden Furniture Restorer (£19/1L, diy.com) using a paintbrush, then work it into the surface using an abrasive scrubbing pad or stiff bristle brush. Rinse off then allow to dry. Wooden Arbour, £162.99 wayfair.co.uk.

Spruce Up Tatty Tables and Chairs and Get Them Looking As Good As New

GET THE OMBRÉ EFFECT

Ombré is still on-trend this summer, and it perks up a chair for just a few pounds. Choose one colour and then pick out tester pots in tonal shades, adding one to each slat of an old chair. Protek Royal Exterior Range, £1 per tester pot protekwoodstain.co.uk.

 

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

Painting and spray-painting are great ways to create a unique container – you can choose just the right shade and texture to suit your planting scheme. And a little bit of expert know-how will help you get the best results.

PREPARE YOUR PLANTER

Always clean your container thoroughly first to create the best surface for the paint or spray paint. Run the container under water and scrub lightly with a dish-washing brush or pot bristle brush to remove all the dust and dirt. Terracotta pots can build up a crusty white residue over time, due to salts and other chemicals that are often found in tap water. This is not an ideal surface for painting, so give it a more thorough clean first (see panel on the right). Check that your container is completely dry before you paint it, especially terracotta pots, which readily absorb moisture. Put your containers in the sun to speed up the drying process. You can also use a paint primer first, which lays a good foundation for the paint, gives a smoother finish and improves the paint’s durability. There are primers suitable for different materials, including metal, wood, terracotta, stone and even plastic.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

WHICH PAINT?

Buying paint, especially for larger containers, can be expensive, so purchase some tester pots first to see if you like the colour and effect it creates. You can use a wide range of exterior paints on wooden containers such as troughs, boxes and crates. Try ordinary exterior emulsion and oil-based gloss paint. For metal containers, it’s best to use gloss paint or a proprietary metal paint. Terracotta pots can be painted with non-toxic acrylic or emulsion paints or spray-painted. Concrete or stone pots can also be painted with emulsion or a specialist masonry paint suitable for exteriors. There are also outdoor stains available for wooden containers. Note that these are affected by the colour of the wood you’re staining. Always place your container on a dust sheet or newspaper first to protect your working surface.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

How to clean a terracotta pot Got an old pot encrusted with white residue?

Here’s how to get it looking like new, ready to paint.

1 Use a dish-washing brush or pot bristle brush to clean as much dirt and old potting mix from the inside and outside of the pot.

2 Soak the pot in a solution of water and white vinegar. You’ll need about 250ml (1 cup) of vinegar to every 750ml or 1 litre (3 or 4 cups) of water. Submerge the pot in the solution. The vinegar will start working on the crusty build-up.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

3 After about 20–30 minutes, see if you can wipe or scrub off the residue. Leave for longer, if necessary, and use the brush to scrub firmly to remove the residue.

4 Finally, put the pot in the dishwasher on the quick wash cycle. This will clean and disinfect the pot ready for planting. Alternatively, scrub the pot in warm soapy water and rinse well.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

WHAT TO DO

Start by applying a base coat using a household paintbrush or try a foam brush for a smoother result. Apply second and even third coats, depending on the type and colour of paint you’re using, as well as whether you want any of the container to show through. You don’t need to paint the bottom or inside of the container, although you can paint the top inch or so that won’t be covered with potting mix. To spray-paint a container, work outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

Hold the can about 30cm from the surface and spray in a steady back-and-forth motion. Slowly rotate the container as you spray. Try to keep the spray can the same distance from the container to ensure an even coverage. Wait a few minutes before applying a second or third coat, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the container to dry thoroughly before planting up. This may take some time, especially if the container is made of terracotta. To avoid the paint chipping or cracking, you can apply a matt or gloss varnish to seal the paint, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

JUST ADD PLANTS

There is a useful phrase to remember when you are designing a container scheme: ‘thriller, filler and spiller’. This can be helpful when you’re working out the design for a container and how to compose your plant combinations. For example, if you have a large container, you might want some tall plants at the back to provide height (the ‘thriller’ or focus plant) and then some shorter plants to fill up the middle area of the container (the ‘filler’ plants). To finish the planting, you could choose plants that trail over the sides (the ‘spiller’ plants).

Colour your garden in your very Favourite Tones With a Quick Lick of Paint Here’s How to Get Great Results

It is important to ensure that all containers have a drainage hole or holes in the bottom. Most plants dislike sitting in very wet soil, so excess water needs to be able to drain out of the container to prevent the potting mix becoming waterlogged. Although most containers already have drainage holes, recycled items such as metal buckets or wooden crates probably won’t. However, it is easy to make holes in these with a hammer and heavy-duty nail Just turn the container over and hit the nail hard with the hammer to make a series of holes in the bottom. You can also use an electric drill to make the holes. Containers made from stone, terracotta or ceramics cannot be treated in this way. Planting up an upcycled container.

 

Boost your Well Being and your property’s value with your very own Workout Retreat

En vision being able to work out whenever you want, for as little or long as you want, in the peace and quiet of your garden. Imagine not having to contend with crowded changing rooms, nor hanging around waiting for equipment to become free. Imagine your journey to the gym taking less than a minute! Sound like a dream?

Well, you could make having your own gym in your garden a reality, and for less outlay than you might think. With a huge range of garden gym buildings now available, it’s easy to find a design that fits your needs and available outside space, like Amy and Fraser did.

And, thanks to growing demand, prices are fast becoming more affordable. The average cost of an annual gym membership in the UK is £480 per person, which is a considerable sum to put towards buying your own gym pod especially if there’s more than one gym-goer in your family. Factor in that building a garden gym can boost your home’s value by as much as five per cent, and you’ll realise why this is fast becoming the hottest trend in modern garden design: it’s more than your well-being that will benefit!

Boost Your Well Being And Your Property’s Value With Your Very Own  Workout Retreat

CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS

Your first step should be to think about how you would use a garden gym. This will help you make key decisions about the shape, size, structure and therefore cost of the new building. Do you long for a quiet, contemplative space for yoga and meditation? If so, a single space with plenty of natural light flooding in could be the answer. If you crave a high cardio workout involving multiple exercise machines, then a room with more headroom and solid walls for a plasma screen and sound system is on the cards. Think carefully about how much, and what type of equipment you want, as this will determine the amount of floorspace needed.

For free weight or boxing fanatics, your gym pod’s structural stability is critical, and this may determine the overall shape and proportion of the space and the materials used. A reinforced ceiling and wall joists are a must for mounting punchbags and pull-up bars, and a well-supported floor is crucial for dropping weights safely. You may need to include a mirrored wall area to check good form too, so bear this in mind while deciding on window and door configurations. Considering the long-term use of these outdoor spaces is important if you are to recoup the financial outlay. Will the structure always be used for exercise or will it need to double up as an extra work/study or sleeping area, now or in the future? This forward-thinking could convince you that it’s worth including a small shower room or separate storage area, which could be vital at a later stage.

FIND THE PERFECT DESIGN

As most garden rooms are in view from the house, it’s better to choose a design and materials that will complement, rather than dominate, its surroundings. Traditional wooden garden buildings are a solid, practical and relatively cheap option, but timber-clad structures of a more modern design are becoming an increasingly popular alternative. Sleek and seamless, these create a neat look that complements most property types and styles.

Most solid wood cladding gently weathers over time and blends beautifully with the natural tones in your garden. A wide range of wood types is available, from stylish oak and cedar to dramatic scorched or blackened larch. Alternatively, consider a composite clad structure. Made from recycled timber wrapped in a polymer skin with timber-grain imprint, these designs are quick to erect, extremely durable and are available in a wide range of single and dual-coloured finishes including on-trend dark and light grey, black and walnut. Depending on whether the panel’s surface is ‘capped’ or not, the external colour may fade slightly over eight to 10 weeks before stabilising, but these buildings generally require less long-term upkeep than timber structures.

Boost Your Well Being And Your Property’s Value With Your Very Own  Workout Retreat

COMPLEMENT YOUR PLOT

The shape and size of your gym depends on the dimensions of your garden. If yours is a long, narrow plot, then a building that spans the width of your garden may work best. Front-facing doors and windows, with a roof that slopes from front to back will make the most of the available space. If you have a larger or more evenly proportioned garden, then it might be better to opt for a gym with a square footprint.

This can tuck neatly into one corner, allowing you to add bifold or sliding doors along two sides that can be opened for summer workouts, and perhaps a wrap-around deck as well. Think, too, about how you could use a gym to provide a solution to other garden needs. For example, if a lack of storage is an issue for you, then think about dividing off an end section of the building with its own external door. Perfect for stashing away garden essentials, bikes or loungers, the space can always be re-purposed in future. Or how about choosing a structure with an overhanging roof at the front to shelter a hot tub or seating area?

Boost Your Well Being And Your Property’s Value With Your Very Own  Workout Retreat

Do I need planning per ission? Unless your garden building is extremely large or your property has been considerably extended in the past, it’s likely that your garden gym will fall under your property’s permitted development allowance. Your retailer will be able to advise you but double-check with your local authority before any work begins. Guidelines for Scotland, Wales and England differ slightly so check what’s permitted in your area at gov.uk/planning-permission-england- wales or eplanning.scot. In most cases, if the building is 2.5m high or less and positioned less than 2m from the boundary, permission is not required. If the site is more than 2m away from the boundary, the maximum height permitted rises to 4m for a dual pitched roof and 3.5m for a mono pitched or pent roof.

ONLY PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED

There are many types of garden gyms with very different specifications on the market. Being clear about what you do and don’t need can save you a fortune. A high level of insulation is a must for most people, as you’ll want to use the space year-round. However, you may decide you need plenty for a cosy yoga studio, but less if your gym will be housing a running or rowing machine. Instead, heavy equipment like this will make a strong floor more of a priority.

Ventilation and heating are also key issues to consider. Think about the best glazing configuration for your space and ensure that some of the smaller windows can be opened independently of any large bifold or sliding doors so you can still enjoy fresh air during the coldest months. Or, would air conditioning to keep the room cool even in high summer be a better option for you? Underfloor heating is also worth thinking about, especially for yoga or pilates. Having power in your gym is crucial and most suppliers will offer a certified installation service, fitting electric sockets and light switches at the time of construction. Most installers will not be responsible for extending the power supply from the main property down to the garden building, so you may have to employ a qualified electrician to do this.

Boost Your Well Being And Your Property’s Value With Your Very Own  Workout Retreat

Upgrade a summerhouse Spending out on a purpose-built garden gym isn’t the only option – you could upgrade a basic garden building for a budget-friendly choice. A sturdy, no-frills construction such as the Harwood Log Cabin (£1,599.99, forestgarden.co.uk) can be transformed into a compact workout zone with a little creativity. With a pent roof measuring 220cm high and a footprint of 3 x 2m, there’s just enough room for a treadmill, static bike or yoga mat. Insulate the roof and floor to make the space more comfortable to use – you’ll find simple DIY guides to help you do this online. Add simple lighting and a Bluetooth speaker, and you’re good to go!

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

Forget standard hanging baskets of yesteryear, today’s take on this garden classic is far more fun, like those in Sally’s plot, p22. All these projects take a fresh new look at this old favourite, to bring a blast of modern texture, colour and shape to your outside space. There’s a creation here to suit your garden, whatever its style. Leafy spheres of ferns will instantly add a calming touch of Zen to your plot, or plant an abundant cascade of blooms to bring some serious patio wow. Even familiar plants will look incredible when suspended from a lofty height, especially when you pair them with the perfect container that’s every bit as gorgeous as the blooms. Whichever project you choose, your modern hanging basket is guaranteed to stop your garden visitors in their tracks this summer!

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

BIRD-BATH BASKET

This quick project will make your feathered friends very happy, as they’ll appreciate being able to drink and bathe in the shelter and safety of a tree. It’s easy to create – just plant up a chunky woven container with trailing ivy and fragrant Corsican mint, both of which will survive without too much TLC. Position the plants at intervals around the edge of the basket, encouraging the stems to hang down the side, and place a shallow metal saucer in the centre. Suspend the basket from a sturdy overhanging branch. Fill the saucer with water, sit back and watch the birdy action!

WHAT IT COST

Gardman Rattan Hanging Basket 304.8mm, £3.80 diy.com Dark Galvanised Tray Dia28cm, £3.99 crocus.co.uk Wilko Tub and Basket Compost, £2/20L wilko.com Good Home Trailing Ivy x 4, £4/12cm pot diy.com Corsican mint x 1, £5.99/9cm pot waitrosegarden.com TOTAL: £31.78.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

SWORD FERN SPHERE A

Sphere of lush and leafy sword ferns will bring shape and texture to a shady spot. Begin by removing chains and hooks from two wire hanging baskets. Line each with a coco liner and fill the base with a rich potting compost. Add water-retaining granules, such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Container and Baskets Gel (£6/250g, homebase.co.uk) to the compost. Divide two sword ferns into several smaller plants – just remove each from its pot and use a knife to saw the root ball into four mini plants. Make sure each has plenty of roots and fronds intact. Snip four openings in each liner, one at the base and three just below the basket rim. Push the root ball of a plant through each opening and hold in place as you firm compost around its roots, then fill both baskets with compost. Sandwich the baskets together using wire and pliers to secure them, and re-clip the chains ready to hang. Water thoroughly and allow to drain before suspending in place.

WHAT IT COST

Sword ferns x 2, £5.21/2-3L pot palmcentre.co.uk John Innes No 3 Compost, £3.52/10L diy.com 40cm Hanging Basket With Coco Liner x 2, £6.50 each homebase.co.uk TOTAL: £26.94.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

LUSCIOUS GRASS GLOBES

Irresistibly tactile, these baskets will astound your friends this summer. The mass of rich green grass hanging below the basket can grow to extraordinary lengths, forming a sculptural teardrop shape. A mix of two similar-looking plants – baby panda bamboo and creeping bent grass – brings a Japanese feel that oozes a tranquil sense of well-being. You’ll need to grow the bent grass from seed, but it’s easy and quick to do so. Fill a 40-cell seed tray to just below the rim with compost. Firm, water and leave to drain, before evenly covering the surface with seed and a thin layer of compost. Wait until the seeds have germinated and grown into shoots around 8cm long around four weeks before gently tipping out the individual cells. Each cell should have well-established roots.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

Create a ball-shaped basket by lining two identical wire baskets with coco liners and filling with moisture control compost. To make the lower half of the hanging sphere, snip neat cuts at regular intervals in the liner. Pop a creeping bent grass plant through each opening, nestling the roots into the compost. Continue until this basket’s surface is almost covered. Don’t worry if there are gaps and you can see the liner as these will be covered as the grass grows. Fill the other basket with compost and sandwich the two together to form a ball shape, fixing in place using wire ties. Saw up the bamboo into small sections using an old bread knife, making sure each one has some roots. Cut openings into the top basket liner and plant up as before. Keep the finished basket well-watered and ensure it doesn’t dry out.

WHAT IT COST

Creeping bent seed, £6/100g wildseed.co.uk Baby panda bamboo, £6.50/1L pot shrublandparknurseries.co.uk PlantPak 40-cell Seed Tray £4/5 trays homebase.co.uk Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost, £6.94/50L diy.com Gardman Classic Black Hanging basket 40.64cm with coco liner x 2, £6.60 each diy.com TOTAL: £36.64.

BUCKET OF BEAUTY

This zinc bucket brimming over with pale pink campanula oozes understated elegance. Flowering continuously throughout the summer, it loves a spot in full sun or part shade. Make it now, and it will thrive year after year. Using a hammer and nail, pierce several drainage holes through the base of the bucket. Cover the holes with a layer of broken crocks and fill two thirds of the bucket with container compost. Carefully turn the campanula out of its plastic pot and place in the centre of the bucket. Fill round with compost, firming down to hold the plant upright. Double over a 1.5m length of twine and tie the ends to the loops either side of the bucket’s rim. Raising the twine, tie a central knot to form a top loop, ready for hanging from a metal S-hook. Water thoroughly and allow to drain before hanging.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

WHAT IT COST

Campanula punctata Pink Octopus’, £9/3L pot hardysplants.co.uk Vinterfest Galvanised Bucket 10L, £7 ikea.com Nutscene Natural 3 Ply Jute Twine 110m, £3.50 hobbycraft.co.uk Grundtal S-hook 7cm, £2.50/5 ikea.com Gro-sure Easy Container Compost, £4.75/25L homebase.co.uk TOTAL: £26.75.

DIY DAZZLER

Upcycle an old wooden box or crate you already have to become a hanging basket, and you’ll add a whole new layer of loveliness! Here, the dazzling ballerina blooms of fuchsia ‘Nora’ shine out from a dizzying array of natural textures. Fun and easy to put together, this project will add a unique touch to your garden. Any crate will do – just line it with an old compost bag turned inside out, making drainage holes in the plastic to line up with the gaps between the wooden slats. Add compost and a plant. Tie rough, natural rope to each corner and hang – along with the old handle of a well-worn garden rake or hoe for added texture – suspended from branch with metal hooks. Winding garden twine or salvaged rope around the pole will add to the relaxed and incidental look.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

WHAT IT COST

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Investing in property means being in it for the long haul, as the market operates in distinct cycles. ‘There are periods of steady growth, stagnation and sometimes even crashes,’ says Erwin Rode, MD of Rode & Associates, a company that specialises in property research, economics and valuations. ‘Depending on when you buy, you could benefit from an upswing, or seriously regret your decision. For example, if someone bought a property around 2000 and sold it seven years later, they would have made a killing.’

So if timing the market is crucial, and no one has yet found that crystal ball to predict the highs and lows, an investor would simply stay in the market and ride out the cycles. Is it worthwhile?

To make financial sense, any investment must at least match, and ideally beat, the inflation rate. With property, several factors need to be considered: the growth in the actual value of the property, the income that is generated and the level of debt on the property.

The FNB House Price Index has been tracking property price movements in SA for decades, and over the past 10 to 15 years, the average property price increases haven’t kept pace with inflation. But, says Erwin, once you add the income received from the property, the return does beat inflation in the long run, by about 4%.

How to Invest in Real Estate: 10 Best Ways to Get Started Photo Gallery

So the combined return depends on when you buy and sell, as well as whether there is a mortgage on the property. Borrowing from

the bank to finance the property is known as gearing, which can work for or against the investor, depending on market conditions.

The greater the percentage of debt, the higher the gearing. The advantage of gearing is that the interest you pay is tax deductible if it is an investment property. On the downside, the higher the gearing, the harder you’ll be hit if interest rates go up or if you don’t have a tenant. In boom times, gearing increases returns, but in economic downswings, negative equity can occur, says Erwin. ‘This means the outstanding amount on the bond is more than the market value of the property.’

TIPS FOR MAKING THE RIGHT INVESTMENT DECISION

• Do thorough research on the area and rental demand.

• Work and rework the numbers.

• Have financial reserves in place for challenging times.

• Get advice froma credible resource.

TALLY UP THE COSTS:

• The purchase price

• Transfer duty – tax on transfer of property over R1000000

• Bond registration costs

• Property transfer costs

• Miscellaneous costs, such as levies, new carpets, maintenance jobs before a tenant moves in

Before you jump in, you need to fully understand what you are in for and how it all adds up. You will need to invest some of your own money, and there will be ongoing expenses that might not be covered by the rental income. Making a mistake with any of these numbers could be disastrous.

‘All costs involved in purchasing the property need to be factored in,’ says Dexter Leite, Pam Golding Properties’ rental manager for the Cape Metro region. ‘This includes transfer duty and legal and bond costs. Then there are ongoing costs – insurance, levies, rates, maintenance, letting agent’s commission and vacancies, which need to be included.’ And remember, ‘an inflated assessment of rental achievable will only aggravate this situation’, says Dexter.

One of the greatest risks for a landlord is not receiving rental income. Expenses will still have to be paid, which can be tough if you don’t have financial reserves. Almost one in 10 rental properties around SA is standing empty at the moment – about 9-13%, compared to the previous quarter’s figure of 7.5%, says Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN, a firm that specialises in property data analytics. ‘A healthy vacancy rate is between 3% and 5%,’ she says.

There are significant regional differences – being a landlord in one province could be less risky than in another. The Eastern Cape traditionally had the lowest vacancy rate in South Africa, but has suffered the most as a result of lockdown: vacancies have nearly doubled quarter-on-quarter to 10.22%. Other provinces have also been affected: the Western Cape stands at 7.95%, Gauteng at 9.2% and KwaZulu-Natal at about 9.42%, at the time of writing.

Other external factors can have a major impact on vacancy rates, such as the Western Cape drought in 2018/2019- ‘The area was hit hard, which meant that many Airbnb properties were standing empty, so owners put them on the long-term rental market,’ says Michelle. ‘In early 2019, vacancies stood at nearly 10% in Cape Town as a result of this.’ In Gauteng, an explosion of new developments specifically intended for the rental.

The top-performing areas and housing types will change over time, based on the prevailing lifestyle trends and availability and location of properties. market has led to an oversupply of stock and a high vacancy rate. Whether your tenant pays on time is another consideration. According to TPN’s analytics, about 81% of tenants across South Africa were in good standing in the first quarter of 2020, a slow decline from 2013/14, when it stood at 86%. Property indices track averages across the entire country; averages are based on a wide range of returns – from really good to really bad; it’s not one-size-fits-all.

So where is there money to be made? According to the FNB

House Price Index, over the past 10 to 15 years, the Western Cape has shown growth far in excess of other provinces. The coastal area of eThekwini is next, with the lowest growth seen in Joburg. This trend is echoed in the Pam Golding Residential Property Index, which also shows that higher priced properties (R2 million and up) have enjoyed a higher growth rate over the past 10 years.

Apart from these regional differences, there are certain property investments that are more lucrative than others, says Sandra Gordon, senior research analyst at Pam Golding Properties.

‘There is a growing demand within niche markets, and not enough homes offering the correct location and housing type.’ These include student housing, retirement homes and mixed-use developments. ‘These are all new markets that offer a live-play-wTork lifestyle for the growing student numbers, and a lock-up-and-go lifestyle for retirees. The trend of mixed-use developments is found in growth or business nodes, often in the CBD, providing a lock-up-and-go lifestyle close to work.’

Michelle says the full impact of Covid-19 has not yet been felt by landlords, who have had to be empathetic in their response. ‘Landlords have either given a discount in rent, or offered deposit utilisation or a deferment of rent. The real impact will be seen only once people start paying back these arrear rental amounts.’

This considers the impact of long-term rental income only. Covid-19 has all but ground the short-term rental market (Airbnb) to a complete halt, a situation that might continue for a while.

Your rental income is taxable, but you will be able to offset all costs incurred in maintaining or financing the property over the year. This can include levies, rates, interest on your bond, maintenance, rental agent fees, and so on.

When you sell the investment property, the capital gain will be calculated (your proceeds, less any costs incurred in buying or improving the property) and added to your taxable income. As an individual taxpayer, the first R40000 per annum is excluded from the capital gains calculation, and 40% of the remaining value is added to your income for tax purposes. the hotfow (toe Investing in property is not for the faint-hearted. It takes considerable time, and can be hugely stressful and financially devastating if you are not careful. It is crucial that you do your homework, and if being a hands-on landlord is not your thing, you can always access the property market by investing via Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

While many people might have made some good money from property in the past, Erwin is cautious looking ahead. He predicts that property prices in South Africa will decline in the months to come as the economy battles a recession and other challenges.

Despite all of this, it might be a great time to buy property if you can get a bargain. Just make sure all the numbers stack up before you sign on the dotted line.