Breath new life into your patio and garden in just 15 minutes. The proof is in the cheat sheet.

You might be a novice DIYer, a lazy homeowner or a time-starved parent, but now that it’s the most coveted place to be all season, your outdoor area could be due for a little facelift. The truth is, adding new life into your veranda, balcony or garden doesn’t have to cost you money, or your time. Our 15-minute makeover cheat sheet has been packed with impactful ideas that include styling and gardening, quick craft and DIY projects. 

Mirror, Mirror

Never (ever) underestimate the ability of a mirror to double the square meterage and bring light into an area. 

 How to: Find yourself  a variety of mirrors – this is  an ideal item to source from  thrift or charity shops – and hang them together as a group. Or, if you want major impact and a seamless look, try to order a large (floor to ceiling) sheet of mirror from the local glass shop and then let the professionals handle the installation. 

Throw Down A Rug

Apart from their ability to bring softness both visually and underfoot, rugs also offer physical warmth, sound absorption, and pull a space together aesthetically. For outdoor areas, we suggest synthetic rugs made from recycled waste materials like polypropylene or strong PET bottles. The technology in this arena is so sophisticated that you can have just about any design, or colour and texture (yes, texture) in a sustainably made, tough all-weather rug. And the best part is that when it’s needed, you can simply hose them down. Most contemporary rug companies these days make all-weather rugs, but one that stands out as our  favourite is Airloom.

Group Dynamics

For collectors of things, this simple styling tip packs a major punch whether it’s a collection of indoor plants, ceramic vessels, coffee table books or a mix of all of them. If done right, how you group objects can create interest, dynamism, and magic. 

 How to: Grouping in odd numbers often looks better: think 3s or 5s. Mix varying heights, proportions and textures when grouping, since combining items of the same or similar height and proportions can appear one note. Simply put together complementary textures (all raw for example: a woven basket, a terracotta pot and  a wooden vessel) on the other hand, creates magic. Lastly, think carefully about placement … rows or neat lines are boring to the eye; bring one item forward, let the other hang back, overlap them slightly and then leave a small gap with another. This kind of consideration creates diversity and looks more natural. 

Instant Green

For the smaller patios and balconies, rolling out a piece of artificial lawn to cover your floor area can create a complete transformation of your space. The quality that’s available today is better than ever before with an uncanny likeness to the real thing, adequate drainage and savvy little details, which includes browner root growth. 

 How to: The Belgotex DIY Collection is made with quick and easy installation in mind. Simply purchase a roll (they come in 2 m width) and cut to any shape or size you want. 

Lighten Up

Table lamps, standing lamps, string lights (like fairy lights and bistro lights) – they all bring that quality of warmth and character into a space that overhead lighting simply cannot. The pools of soft light work wonderfully on a tabletop, a bookshelf, over a side table or even alongside an armchair.

 How to: Seek out dead areas that could benefit from a pool of soft light. When 

it comes to fairy lights, bundling them together (perhaps in a glass vessel)
is a little more interesting than laying them out in a string. As for bistro lights, they can be hung in a string or made to zigzag between various points in your garden or courtyard. 

Jar Lanterns

For the same reason that we recommend warm lighting on the patio, we also cannot recommend the soft glow of natural firelight enough. Making a set of home-made lanterns from leftover glass jars is easy and provides a charming effect. 

 How to: Find a selection of glass jars and choose a light-coloured paint (we suggest white) or spray paint if you’re in a wind-free zone. Carefully wrap your jars in twine or sticky tape – this depends on your desired effect – leaving decent gaps in between each round, tie up the ends and then paint the outsides. Once it is all completely dry, remove your twine to reveal the patterns and then pop in some small candles at the bottom.

Revive Your Pots

If your pots are looking lacklustre (or you’ve bought the plastic versions), then give them a super-quick paint job to revive them. We suggest adding unexpected textures and finishes rather than using traditional paint.

 How to: Opt for a chalk paint like Annie Sloane’s or the local Tjhoko Paint, or a textured, cement-like paint such as Fired Earth Granular Paint, Cemcrete DecoWash and CemWash. Our advice would be to choose the one finish and apply it to a few pots that’ll be grouped together rather than the odd one (which would only result in a confused aesthetic). 

Hang Out

With so much focus placed on what’s happening from the floor up, the upper reaches of one’s veranda (or interior for that matter) are too often neglected. Look up! Not much going on apart from that light fitting, is there? The eye is a sharp tool, and it reads dead zones like this as boring, so it’s time you learn to hang (out).

How to: Simply inserting cup hooks or toggle hooks (if the weight requires it) into your ceiling board will give you an area to hang plants in baskets, kokedamas or even paper lanterns (en masse). We recommend hanging objects together in a group for maximum impact. 

Tidy Up

That’s right. Beyond simply planting new plants in the garden, we recommend a good old clean up. This will entail a bit of pruning and clearing, of course. 

 How to: All those dried, sun-burnt and dead leaves … simply snip them off at the browning point to save your plant from wasting too much energy and you’ll be left with a garden showing the lushest greens. Prune branches that don’t serve you, and shape trees by cutting back. This can also be done to lower branches to lift a tree with good upper growth.

Shape-Shifting Shrubs

Shaping leafy shrubs into topiaries can bring much-needed structure to your garden. Once established, Abelia, Buxus or Eugenia can be clipped back into a round ball or cone shape. 

 How to: We recommend using shears rather than a hedge trimmer (which can cause disastrous results). Be mindful not to cut back to the hard wood, just the fine twigs and leafy ends will do. Your local nursery will likely offer a shaping frame for you to use, but with a steady hand and a good eye, you can do without it.


DIY: Freehand a chevron wall