Garden // Al Fresco Living {with M&S*}

May 05, 2018

You guys, we made it! Through the wet, muddy, cold, bare days of winter. We're officially out the other side, into May, into sunny days and light evenings, ready for BBQs {we had our first on Thursday and another last night!}, this long bank holiday weekend with the promise of sunshine, England is filled with green once again, there's beautiful blossom all around, the garden is filling out and tonight as I type Ben and I actually ate outside - klaxon! So what better time than to refresh the garden ready for the whole season ahead. Ever since we finished our patio and kitchen last summer we were trying to decide how to fill the space. The gravel across the whole area made it look vast, and er a little beachy {but not in a good way!}. I remember sitting by our fire last Winter, the rain pouring down outside, drawing out plans with Ben on our laptops as to the inspiration that we had for the area and slowly but surely it's all come to life. Hello new outdoor seating area of my dreams! I've teamed up with M&S to share some of my favourite items from their new outdoor living range that have transformed this area into somewhere I think we'll be spending a lot of time around this summer. And tonight's dinner on the outdoor sofas {it feels so cool to say that} will hopefully be the first of many... 

You can see the landscaping to get to our blank canvas, and the before photos of this patio area here if you'd like a little background.

All winter I'd been trying to decide what furniture would suit our outdoor space. We had a table and some vintage chairs that we'd picked up from junk yards/antiques markets over the years which is fine, but we really wanted some comfort and somewhere to properly relax on either when it's just us two at home in the day, or when we have friends and family over for BBQs. There's a real limit as to how long you can sit on those wooden rickety chairs for!

It's no secret that I'm a huge sun worshipper, and a lounger had always been top of my list so this smart yet still cottagey wooden recliner lounger is my new favourite piece. It's got the option to go fully flat, for optimal tanning or hanging over the edge with my laptop underneath to hide the sun glare. It's also big enough, and super comfy enough to work on as I've got it in the photo below. 

I can see this getting hours and hours of use this summer, and onwards. Made from eucalyptus wood, it folds up flat enough for easy storage through winter in the garage which is a big plus. It comes with a padded seat but I also added this cushion for extra back support and I genuinely felt like I was on holiday in my own garden looking out over the flowers and trees. The ultimate staycation when the sun is shining. 

When your wifi reaches your sun lounger and you can work open air! I think Ben and I might fight over this {I found him on it this afternoon in the shade}.

Sun loungers and tanning aside, the area that we really wanted to sort out most was this corner to the left of the patio which we hadn't done anything with. Earlier this Spring we sorted out the ugly fence by cladding over it with weatherboard barn cladding to tie in with our greenhouse & garage the other side, and planted up some troughs to pretty it all up a little. With the festoon lights up, it's such a lovely area in the evenings yet we didn't have any seating over here. Outdoor sofas have always been a dream since we fell in love with my parent's outdoor space a couple of years ago and realised that we too needed an area to sit and read the papers at a weekend, or relax on after dinner on a balmy evening. England on the whole does seem to get hotter for longer each summer and we live outside as much as we can in the summer.  

This alfresco living range from M&S fitted the bill perfectly. This sofa is squidgy enough yet with beautiful woven rattan and a wooden base, I love the look that they give whilst being really comfortable and practical. I couldn't resist the footstool for properly putting your feet up, but also to hold magazines and little lanterns to make it feel like a proper outdoor living room and the extra armchair is perfect for a friend popping over. Technically, it's conservatory furniture {M&S do have proper outdoor ranges with waterproof cushions} but we figured we can store the whole set in our garage over winter because we really loved the look of this set.

With this herringbone green garden throw, that doubles up as a waterproof backed picnic rug with a leather carry strap, and some plants, it  feels like a proper outdoor living space.

We looked at a lot of outdoor furniture but this is really good quality and I would always trust M&S with big purchases like these. 

Our garden is a sun-trap throughout the day but I'm not a fan of most parasols, they can be too overbearing or a bit ugly. This one though is beautiful, and gives shade {with an SPF of 50+} whilst looking pretty - and actually adding a little cosiness to the area. 

We were sad to have to say goodbye to our trusty old BBQ that we'd patched up over the past eight summers, it had had a good innings but by the end we were embarrassed to bring it out for big parties - it had such a tiny cooking area! Enter a snazzy new Weber BBQ, M&S have a whole new BBQ range this summer. This grill has a sleek enough design for it to be on the patio without being an eye-sore {I'm super fussy!} and cooks on charcoal without all the mess and hassle of lighting it/cleaning up. It has an automatic ignition to start the cooking and a one touch cleaning system plus timers and an ash catcher - alll the tech but the taste of proper coals.

Outdoor entertaining, and summery picnics, are my favourite. I'm obsessing over this picnic basket, and all the botanical accessories that go with the range, for entertaining this summer. The giant leaf platter and the leafy set of 4 plates above are both melamine, so perfect for outdoor living and on trend. And the picnic basket is something else.

Traditional from the outside but with a leafy lining and the most adorable full kit for a proper summer's day out for four people.

There's even a mini salt and pepper container {!!} and linen napkins.

You can never have enough lanterns, right? I've also just spotted these for tea-lights which have been added since I shopped! 

We're so excited for just staying home now and putting everything to good use. I'm even excited just to work from home on sunny days! I need to start freezing some watermelon again... 

It makes me so happy to have a proper outdoor living space and I literally can't stop staring out into the garden now. Wait, this is actually ours? We created this after alll the vision and efforts poured in over the past few years? You can see all of our garden before shots here. I have a feeling that this summer might be the best one yet!

You can find the whole range online here and here's hoping for long sunny summery days ahead! There's 40% off this weekend on all outdoor {be quick!}... and you can shop below.

// BBQ

R <3 xx 

{This post is a paid for/sponsored post in collaboration with M&S, a brand I have loved, trusted, and worked with for years. But as ever, I would never promote anything that I didn't truly love}

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    1. Where does it say it’s free? Discounted maybe. If you put the time and effort into developing a brand and blog like this you would be rewarded, much like you are when you go to work.

    2. I agree with Cheryle wholeheartedly!! Even if it was completely FREE! thats fine too! what a blessing! we are not here to judge peoples bank accounts either!

      Hi Rebecca, I was wondering where you got your gravel from? I want the same cottage look and wondered if places like B&Q were the most expensive or not? as you can tell Im no gardener but enjoying sprucing up my garden a bit more recently. Any advice welcome, also in the M&S blog post, is that panelling painted white in the background fixed onto a wall? xx

    3. Hi Kate, the gravel is just regular pea shingle from our local builders merchants but you can get the same at Wickes too. And the panelling is mounted onto existing fence posts, I'll try and blog that separately soon! xx

  2. Hi,

    Read your blog for some time now and love the look of your garden. We are doing some garden work ourselves at the moment. I just wondered what type of cladding you used for your fence panels and were you sourced it from?


    1. Hi Helen, thank you so much. The cladding is called barn cladding/weather board and it's from a local builders merchants in Hertfordshire. Do you have any timber merchants near you? x

  3. Thanks Rebecca, I’ll have a look at our local one xxx

  4. Hi Rebecca. I am an absolute novice when t comes to gardening but i find your Instagram and Vlog posts truly inspiring. Your garden is the most beautiful and perfect garden i have ever seen and i am trying to improve our garden space using some of your ideas.
    At present, i am trying to educate myself on flowers/bedding pants from a standing start so could you please tell me what type of flowers you have planted in the buckets adjacent to the sun lounger and the one featured on the table?
    many thanks....and keep on posting :)


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