Sally Worts’ PARTY PATIO brings style and drama to her Yorkshire garden.
Fearless, masculine and moody are just some of the descriptions friends, social media followers and even tradespeople have used to describe Sally Worts’ garden. And surveying the interior stylist’s vast veranda overlooking rolling Yorkshire hills, it’s easy to see why. “I’ve always been drawn to striking style,” Sally smiles. “And everything works against black – it makes even the most dreary object pop. When people see the space I’ve created, they never fail to gasp in surprise. It’s not your average patio!” Sally’s vision for a dark and dramatic outdoor space was years in the making. When she, husband Chris and their four sons moved into the barn conversion seven years ago, they inherited a cluster of inconveniently tall trees and a run-of-the-mill patio. “The patio was a perfectly adequate space, with bog-standard paving slabs,” she explains. “It was boring! I’d had an idea in my head for ages about creating a bold, party-style space with dramatic pops of green and black. So this certainly didn’t meet the mark!”
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RECLAIMING THE VIEW
Before Sally could let loose with her ideas, there was the issue of budget – plus the added complication of trees cluttering the garden’s grass area beyond the patio and obstructing the spectacular view. “Those 12-foot trees blocked out all the natural light in the house and patio,” Sally says. “So our first priority when we moved in was to take all 30 of the trees out.” To save cash, Sally’s husband Chris did the chopping himself, uprooting all the trees and rotovating the soil. “He did it in stages over a few months,” Sally explains. “Little by little, the amazing view unfolded and we began to see the potential of the veranda. I started getting really excited about the possibilities.”
With the split-level grass area cleared and Sally’s transformation of the barn interior complete, it was time to start planning the veranda and patio space. And with her strong signature style and desire to transition seamlessly from indoors to out, Sally was in no doubt as to the colour palette. “It had to be black,” she says. “I’d used Farrow and Ball’s Railings in the house and knew that shade would be perfect outside, too.”
A local joiner was called in to construct the veranda platform and lower-level patio, and his brief was clear: to create a sociable, holidaystyle space including dedicated zoned areas. “We’d created a home bar in a room at the end of the house, and I loved the idea of walking out with a drink, ready to either eat at a dining table or relax in a comfortable lounge area,” explains Sally. “We wanted to use the space in all weathers so rain cover was essential, and so was keeping as much natural light as possible.” The first stage of the process involved laying membrane down over the existing paving slabs on both the veranda and the lower level patio beyond – essential to save on costs and unnecessary hassle.
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Standard wooden decking from a local builders’ merchant was the material of choice for the veranda flooring, with timber slats positioned alongside sunlight-friendly plastic on the sloping roof. With construction starting in late summer, Sally was impatient. “I wanted to make as much use of the space while we had the weather, so I didn’t waste any time,” she says. “The joiner was literally laying the decking down while I followed him with a paintbrush!” And when it came to the lower-level patio area below, Sally adopted a similar hands-on approach. “We bought a job lot of 200 bags of white gravel for that zone,” she remembers. “As he garden centre was delivering them, the hole family and I were carrying them through o the patio to slit the bags and spread them.” The look and feel of those pale pebbles were rucial. “I wanted a clear contrast between the ack paintwork and the patio floor,” Sally xplains. “I asked the garden centre for their hitest stone – they recommended Cotswold Chipping. The effect of that bright texture gainst the dark decking was amazing.”
BLACK AND GOLD
Colour contrast also came in the form of a wooden summerhouse, which Sally inherited when moving in. Back then it was positioned in the lower grass area and painted a muted green – the antithesis to Sally’s style. By moving it to the patio area and painting in a shade matched to Sally’s beloved Railings, the structure tied in perfectly. Zoning the area came next, and Sally’s priority was creating the feel of two separate rooms. “I had an idea for a kind of party zone outside the home bar, where we could have a drink. I found a stunning black hanging chair at Rockett St George (rockettstgeorge.co.uk). It added a cool vibe to that zone, alongside a black garden bench I already owned.”
But it was Sally’s pièce de résistance – three hanging disco balls sourced from Amazon – that really set the party tone. “I love them!” she smiles. “I continued the gold theme with cushions and it really brought that area to life.” Next up was the lounge zone, and the dark palette extended with an outdoor sofa and two armchairs from made.com. Cushions and rugs were pinched from inside the house, all the while sticking to the restrained palette of black and gold. And with fewer colours, texture became all-important. Sally deliberately clashed textures, such as a shiny gold pot on a natural wood table. “Jarring textures like that creates interest,” she explains.
A simple but strong colour scheme also applied to the planting plan. “Everything had to be green,” Sally says. “It works so well against the black. I share designer Abigail Ahern’s style, and I was once lucky enough to visit her garden as part of a masterclass. The way she stuck to a single palette for the plants was so effective.” At the base of Sally’s greenery is ivy, which grows up the fencing and over the veranda roof. Stems of faux ivy have been twined around the posts to give a lush feel while the real deal grows big enough to take over. Clematis covers the barn wall and a eucalyptus tree takes pride of place on the patio. And those abundant ferns? They’re artificial, too! Sally couldn’t be happier with the final look. “It’s exactly as I imagined,” she says. “I use the veranda every single day without fail. I’ll sit in my winter coat with a cup of tea, sunbathe while I work on my laptop, or relax with the family and a drink from the bar. That view over the hills comes into its own in every single season.” Asked to choose her favourite spot, Sally’s in no doubt: “The party zone with the disco balls! It’s my piece of Ibiza on the Yorkshire borders.”
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