It’s amazing what a bit of paint can do, isn’t it?! We have been planning to sort out the side alley for a while (see my inspiration post here from last year!), but it just hasn’t been a priority lately. But now we have finished it (and to be fair, it only took a weekend to do!), I must admit it feels so much brighter and relaxing.
Originally, this side return didn’t exist. The previous owners had added a bathroom extension here but it was mouldy, the roof was leaking (water was actually running down the walls) and it meant that no natural light reached the room in the middle. We wanted to regain side access for Chris’s bike, builders and didn’t mind losing space in the house. So when we planned our home office, we knocked it down (read the original renovation post here), the builders laid concrete on the floor and rendered the walls.
This alley has been so useful during renovations. During our kitchen renovations during COVID-19, it has allowed builders side access to be able to work on the kitchen without contact, family has used it to visit us and see us in the garden over the summer and, perhaps more importantly, it has stored all manner of tools, cement mixers, ladders and allowed so many big deliveries! But it has looked a little worse for wear….
Eventually, we will pave the floor here, but for now, we just wanted it to feel clean and relaxing. Peggy actually loves playing round here (of course – she loves hiding and filling up her watering can!) and it’s nice to make it feel safe and useable. I knew we wanted a light colour, so went for Farrow & Ball ‘Cornforth White’ but colour-matched it at B&Q using Valspar masonry paint. The quality was excellent and I love the fact that masonry paint covers so many sins in so few coats. We did two coats (with a roller) in most places for better coverage, we will probably have to redo the floor next year, or jetwash it, but most outside spaces need TLC anyway, and I love looking out of the study window to a lovely, clean, purposeful space.
We have two taps here as eventually, we’d love to have an outside cold shower!
It’s also the one part of the garden that isn’t really overlooked, so it’s a hidden sanctuary to have a cup of coffee, and we will probably put a table down here for guests to eat in the shade (once we eventually have guests!).
We are still building up our outdoor furniture collection, we don’t want to buy loads until we have a bigger shed to store things in (and really think about the style we want). I’d love to put a storage box under the window here, and grown climbing plants and add solar cafe lighting, but that can all wait. We picked up the outside mirror from a local junk shop/treasure trove (sadly closed now) and the ceramic was picked up from Nerja – we’ll just add over the years. I love the idea of building up items over time, so it has a story – we also kept the original fireplace from the kitchen which we loved but it was enormous and so heavy (even a few people tried to take it off our hands but when we gave them dimensions, they decided against it!). And once we laid it against the wall, I loved how it looked as a relic, and hopefully we will have plants growing up it one day and it can add to part of the history of the home. We’ve kept all the other fireplaces and restored what we could but it doesn’t always work out, we’d love to try and use the top part to create a lovely bench here.
So that’s it, it has made a huge difference for not much money and we are so pleased with it. Everyday I say to Chris ‘can you believe we live here?’ – it has been a slog but so worth every moment.