If your garden is in a state and you don’t even know where to start with transforming it, be inspired by this creative and thrifty couple.
Ben Wright, 36, a multimedia designer, and his wife Roxanne Bianco, 37, a teaching assistant, made the most of being stuck at home in lockdown to transform their outdoor space and build a chic seating area using second-hand bits they picked up on Facebook Marketplace.
The couple, who live in Torquay and have four kids aged from nine to 18, sought out bits of wood from social media and friends, and accessorised with buys from B&Q and The Range.
Ben told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: “We decided that we wanted to build a nice seating area using pallets as my wife spends a lot of time trawling through Pinterest looking at ideas, and we had seen a few we liked the look of.
“We went to find some pallets and collected loads. We were just going to chuck them on top of each other and sit on a cushion on them.
“But when we looked at them not many of them could be used as there were broken slats and so on. After spending many hours trawling Facebook Marketplace, we found bits of wood.
“People had written lots of it off as firewood and we were also donated some decent bits from a friend who’d just finished off building their own deck and got a bit too much.
“Our main aim was to keep costs as low as possible as we were unsure what’d happen with the current pandemic and if we’d need to squirrel any money away.
“When I’d finished gathering wood, I spent many hours looking at it and working out how I could cut it to get the very most from each piece.
“I got to work on levelling the floor and building the base. It was my first project like this so I was learning all the time. I built most of it with a handsaw and a hand screwdriver and it took ages!
“So I decided to invest in a drill driver and my neighbour kindly lent me a mitre saw which was a lifesaver. The design itself was inspired by a companion chair my late mother-in-law gave us.
“There is a small, handy table in the middle and I thought it’d be great to have tables in the corners of the benches. The bench structures are built from 2×4 timber and the seats and backs were created using those old pallets.
“I spent a lot of time lovingly restoring them as it seemed a shame to waste the slats that were good. My wife swooped in when I’d finished building it and painted the main decking with a slate decking stain and the furniture with a grey-blue garden stain.
“I finished all of the tabletops using some really nice Moroccan-inspired tiles from B&Q. We dressed the majority of it with little knick-knacks from The Range and bits we had around the house.
“We got the fairy lights down from the loft while we wait for the festoon lights to be delivered from China. I also created a sign using some of the battered pieces of wood inspired by one of my wife’s finds on Pinterest and popped a little solar powered fairy light string from Wilko.”
Ben and Roxanne are delighted with how their lockdown project has turned out, and especially by how they managed to keep costs down at a time where budgeting is so important.
“I would say if you are approaching a project like this yourself, and you’re working with pallets, be prepared to work hard!” Ben adds.
“Stripping them, sanding them and restoring them is no walk in the park. Being a first-timer, I learnt the hard way that PPE is absolutely essential when it comes to DIY projects – I endured a string of easily, avoidable injuries including a nasty black eye!
“If we weren’t on lockdown, this project would have never been done – we probably would’ve picked up a little furniture set up from somewhere and stuck it on the lawn.
“Being at home all this time has really made us look at our environment and what we need to do to improve it. We’ve both worked through the pandemic and we’ve homeschooled the youngest of our four children since it started so we’ve been getting in a couple hours really early in the morning and the same later in the evenings as well as weekends.
“The bits I did buy were mainly through click and collect but the main bulk of this has been done through being thrifty and using Facebook Marketplace and picking up bits people couldn’t wait to get rid of.
“We’ve spent in between £200 and £300 on the whole project. We spent £40 on paint, £140 on tiles and the accessories, and the rest on fixings and bits of wood.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results of our decking. We’ve spent every moment we can on there. We’ve posted it online and the response has been unreal! It’s a real nice haven where we can all hang out together.”
Tom Church, co-founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: “Ben and Roxanne are proof that you don’t need to have years of DIY experience behind you to pull off an incredible home improvement project all by yourself.
“By sourcing second-hand timber, teaching themselves valuable DIY skills and adding budget-friendly but beautiful accessories, Ben and Roxanne now have an incredible garden hangout – and all for less than £300!”