Karen standing in outdoor zoned garden makeover in front of Pergola and plants

Garden makeover: a zoned outdoor space for dining and socialising

August 9, 2021

After years of being dissatisfied with their garden, Good Homes Editor Karen Walker and husband John now finally have an outdoor space that works for them. The garden is now a zoned outdoor space so the family can enjoy every element of the space…

Can you describe your original garden? 

We’ve lived here for just over 19 years and have extended, renovated and updated the interior of the house during this time, but we haven’t made any major changes to the garden in around 10 years, except for building the structure of the pergola a couple of years ago.  

What prompted you to redesign?

After last year’s heatwave and spending so much time in the garden, we realised that the current design just wasn’t working. Our garden is south-west facing so we’re lucky enough to get the sun just before midday until sunset, but we couldn’t sit at the dining table as it was positioned in direct sunlight, and even cleverly positioned umbrellas just looked ugly and didn’t work.

The decking was rotten in lots of areas and copious repaint jobs had taken its toll on the aesthetic. The turf also needed replacing thanks to bikes being wheeled across it to the shed, plus the dog had certainly made a difference to the look of it. I said to John that I didn’t want to spend another summer eating in the kitchen when it was glorious outside, and apologising to guests for the state of the decking!

Karen standing in dining outdoor zone underneath pergola overlooking her beautiful garden makeover

Extending the existing pergola has created a space for dining and socialising, perfect for day and night. Photo: Lizzie Orme

Did you use a garden designer?

No, as we both knew what we wanted to achieve: John is the ideas and logistics man and I’m the styler. He suggested extending the pergola to create two zones – one for dining and the other as a seating area. John also designed the pathway and drew out the entire design for our fantastic builder Scott Giddings to recreate. 

Screens with Envy provided screens perfect for creating the individual outdoor zones for the garden. Photo: Lizzie Orme

Were there any challenges along the way?

Getting the path right was definitely a bit of a headache for Scott as he’s such a perfectionist. But once he’d figured out the design, he laid it within a few days. 

Grey decking pathway surrounding garden and pizza oven

John designed the decked path so bikes can be wheeled into the shed at the end. Photo: Lizzie Orme

Was there anything specific on your wish list? 

New decking was the top priority, but as everyone was updating their gardens, it was also in out of stock or had a long lead time. I came across Composite Everything through an Instagrammer’s house we photographed last year, and the service was quick, professional and excellent value for money. I’d also seen Screen with Envy’s fantastic products on Insta and knew they were a must! The pink bench and festoon lights were all part of my moodboard ideas. 

@screenwithenvyHow to install posts and screens into decking ?? ##beforeandafter ##transformation ##BeRightBackWorld ##garden ##viral ##garden♬ Levitating – Dua Lipa

What are you the most happy with? 

Everything! Each area has a different feel and function, depending on the time of day or if we’re chilling out or socialising – the entire space now works. Scott also upcycled lots of the old decking in other areas around the garden, so nothing was wasted. The lighting has also made a huge difference. We still need to find some outdoor heaters for the evenings though as we’re using blankets, but I refuse to go indoors!

Pink garden bench with garden shelfie packed with plants

Having lusted after the pink Indu bench at the Habitat virtual press show, Karen put it on her wish list and tracked it down. Photo: Lizzie Orme


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