I’ve written many times before about our little home. We have lived here for almost seven years now, in fact it will be seven years at the end of August, but it is only really in the last three years it has really felt like a home. Although before it was our home, our little bubble, for some reason I never felt truly content there, whereas for the last three years we have really put our stamp on it and it now feels such a place full of shared history, love and memories. I get so excited to pull up on the drive at the end of a holiday and there’s nothing like the feeling of being safe and content in those walls, adorned with photos of our children growing and changing. It really feels like a family home now.
I have also said before how our house is nothing special at all. From the front it is nothing particularly exciting to look at, you certainly wouldn’t say wow if you were shown a photo of it, it’s just a little three bedroom link detached house in a nice estate, with all the other houses looking exactly the same. But inside we have really spent a huge effort over the last few years to get it feeling like us. A place that reflects our style and our growing family. We have only been able to afford to do this in the last three years, before that it had a lick of paint and some donated furniture from family, because we really couldn’t afford to do anything with it. The house has seen us through maternity leaves, a tough period of redundancy and when I would cry because we actually couldn’t properly even afford to buy a weekly food shop and where we struggled to pay the mortgage, to a change in career for us both and slowly starting to find our feet.
That is why I am so incredibly proud of our home. Even Mr E who isn’t emotional when it comes to material things, also says the same. I look at it and see the result of such hard work and I am really proud of that. It isn’t anything special, but it’s our home, our castle and I feel safe and content here. It won’t be a home that we live in forever, one day we will take the ‘next step on the ladder’ but whereas before I was always wanting to move, now I am perfectly happy here until we can comfortably afford to move in a few years time. I haven’t any single desire to leave this house.
A few months ago we had our dream extension (posts here and here) put on the back of our house, and it has completely transformed our living space. We had these huge bi fold doors put along one wall, which if I am honest I still pinch myself about when we open them up. As a result you could really see our garden from the house. We have NEVER been gardeners. In fact I positively hate gardening, which is strange cause I adore doing up our home in other ways. Over the years our garden has been various states, never looking nice, but ranging from plain and at least with cut grass, to completely overgrown, rotting and full of weeds. We hardly ever went out there as it was muddy and horrible, and we really weren’t taking advantage of having a space for the girls. So one day Mr E decided to take up a little mission to sort out the garden and make it into somewhere we would all love.
One weekend when I went to London for a blogging conference, he set about sorting the garden out. I didn’t know this at the time, but I got back to an excited husband asking me to close my eyes and come out into the garden. It was there I saw he had been busy over the weekend- he had given the fence another coat of grey (we had already done one coat previously to change it from brown to grey as we had to buy a couple of new panels from them getting the digger through for our extension), he had painted our old cheap table and chairs, he had made raised beds out of railway sleepers (complete with a love seat which opens up to storage), he had made lanterns and completely weeded the patios. I was in absolute shock and couldn’t believe he had managed to do it in a weekend- it was the loveliest surprise.
It had been my absolute dream to get artificial grass for a long time. I know it is not for everyone, especially the green fingered amongst us, but I had heard from people that it effectively made your garden another room albeit outside- more useable, less maintenance and good for children as well. But with us getting quotes and it being really quite expensive for what it was, we decided that couldn’t really justify it. However one day after doing quite a big one off work project, he said that we could get it, and that we would see it as an investment. We researched companies and samples, and decided on a high quality grass, that even had a bit of brown in there to make it look more realistic. I was counting down the days until they came to do it and it was finally done a couple of weeks ago.
Below I thought I would use the only photo I had of the garden before so you can see exactly what it was like before. This isn’t even it at it’s worse would you believe!
And then this is it now taken from our new extension with the doors wide open. There really is nowhere better to sit eating our dinner in the summer evenings.
In terms of the grass, it looks extra green in this photo, but in real life it is definitely more ‘real’ looking. We went for the highest quality that the company did, although there were all different types, including more traditional looking astro turf. It is hard to describe the grass but it is like walking on a soft carpet, it is spongey, soft and Mr E even joked that he could sleep out there one night with the girls as you almost sink into it. We paid for a company to come and lay it for us- this was where the biggest expense came. The grass itself although pricey wasn’t ridiculous, but as it is a specialist job that is where it racked the bill up. However we just didn’t dare do it ourselves. They came and got rid of our existing turf, built a wooden frame work round the garden, added a layer of sand and gravel mix, and then a layer of membrane to stop the weeds coming through and then laid the grass similarly to how you would a carpet. It took them two days in total and that is it, and it is guaranteed for ten years.
I have had a lot of messages on social media asking about it, and while I know it isn’t always the ‘done’ thing to talk about money, I know that if you are wanting to do something similar it is always good to get an idea of costs. Obviously it can vary depending on the company and quality of grass you use, but as a vague idea ours cost just over £80 per square metre and that was including the grass itself and the fitting and installation. It was expensive, way more than we thought it was going to be, but as I said before it is a real investment for us and I am so thrilled we got it done. I feel like I should become an artificial grass ambassador, as I can’t stop talking about it!
Here are some more photos of our garden makeover. Bar the cushions and ‘pretty’ bits at the end, Mr E did this all himself, including making the lanterns etc, so I can’t for once take credit for this project!
We managed to pick up the cushions from Tesco for £2.00 each (hello sale!), and all the plants, festoon lights and succulents were from our local garden centre. Mr E got the mason jar lanterns online and then bought the candles and little black stones from IKEA. We also added grey slate stones round the side of our back small patio in order to stop the weeds coming through.
Overall we are just over the moon with our new garden. Already we have spent more time in it in the last couple of weeks than we have in the entire seven years we have lived in our house. It is such a great investment and I am so glad that we decided to get it done. It is essentially like we have added another room to our house and the girls love playing out there (although it doesn’t always look as clean as this!). It is so easy to maintain and to my great excitement you can hoover the grass to get rid of the dead leaves etc, plus it is easy to brush with a soft bristled brush to get off bird poo or anything like that. We just absolutely love it!
(You can see some more of our interior posts here!)