UK Lifestyle Blog 2018-12-03T02:41:24+00:00
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How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too!

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been deep cleaning the house and preparing the garden for summer. Okay, okay, yes it’s a little bit crazy that when business is booming and the wedding is literally days away we’ve decided to give ourselves all this extra work… But it’s really important that our house is lovely and clean when we leave it for our honeymoon, so when we come back we’re not coming back to lots of jobs to do.

We’ve had astroturf in the garden since I moved in 4 years ago, and I’ve never truly been happy with it. It never looked real and it was always wet and horrible (we live in England, why didn’t I think of this before!). The garden became a dumping ground in the winter and it ended up getting so out of control. One wet soggy day I decided just to rip the whole thing up and replace it with decorative stones. Little did I know how much of a job it was going to be but we’re FINALLY✨ getting there (not finished!).UK Lifestyle Blog | UK Lifestyle Blog

Why we chose gravel

Decorative stones can come in all different shapes, sizes and colours and they can play a variety of different roles in a garden from providing driveways to creating a unique garden border.

Gravel is easy to maintain, by topping up with extra aggregate if needed or if the area becomes dirty. There is also a range of colours and shapes to suit your home and outdoor space from traditional or creating a modern flair. Crushed gravel is ideal for pathways or driveways as the stones fit and come together.

It is a cost-effective and low maintenance way to decorate your outdoor space. Other than being cheap and low maintenance, there were two other reasons we opted for gravel, as opposed to alternatives such as patio:

  • Drainage – The use of decorative stone can be an ideal solution for drainage in your garden, pea gravel which contains small round stones are available in different sizes and colours. Pea gravel can provide decorative drainage for flower pots and beds.
  • Weed Control – Placing stones on a rockery or border can help prevent unwanted weed growth. It is ideal to remove any pre-grown weeds and roots before placing the stones, the stones will then create a barrier and prevent any regrowth of weeds or unwanted plants.

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It’s pretty versatile, too. The use of decorative stones on a driveway is becoming increasingly popular and is a great way to add a personalised touch to your home. With an aggregate driveway, no matter how heavy your vehicle is you do not need to worry about damaging the material underneath the wheel, stones for driveways and paths are extremely durable and do not chip and crack with excessive wear.

Storage

We received this shed c/o Wayfair a couple of months ago, which was great because it’s something we really needed. We always wanted to put some type of storage underneath the decking but struggled to find something that would fit. Luckily we found this one, and with a bit of DIY, we managed to get it underneath the decking. The great thing is, we also have tons of room behind the shed to store bits and bobs, too without it being an eyesore.

As you can see, it’s still not finished. This is where we still need to do a ton of work like pressure washing the walls and floors, cleaning the kayaks and organising the shed a little bit more (perhaps put some shelving in there). But for now, it does the job and it’s had a decent clear out. These are always things we can do another time and at least now we know it’s only an afternoon job, rather than a mammoth task.

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Landscaping

Honestly, who would know that going to garden centres and filling your garden with luscious plants and shrubs would be oh so satisfying? I love shopping but I never thought I’d care about getting my hands dirty in the garden to plant some flowers. It’s pretty addictive and there’s so much to learn about when it comes to gardening and it’s pretty cool to see them flourishing. My fiancée says I’m old before my time because I like to bake fresh bread instead of buying it at the shop and I get excited about going to the garden centre to get new bedding plants 😂

Buying plants can be mega expensive, so we’ve started with some plug plants and small bushes, as opposed to buying mature trees etc. It’s slow progress, even our Jasmine tree is almost 4 years old and it feels like it’s barely grown, but it isn’t in the best spot. We might end up investing in some more plants but for the meantime, this will do (especially as we’ll be on our honeymoon this summer and barely be able to properly enjoy it!).

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Borders and Planters

Another good thing about decorative gravel can create an appealing border and can help protect plants from the attack of weeds. Using an aggregate with plants can help keep moisture into the soil the summer months. Depending which gravel you choose you can create different effects, whether it is natural or sand effect to blend in with other natural elements such as stonework and paving or black gravel to add a dramatic modern effect to your outdoor space, there is a large range that will suit any project.

Gravel is also a good way of adding extra drainage to your outdoor space and can protect excess water from building up and damaging foundations. Our hydrangea bush and border flowers are only just beginning to flower (and some haven’t even got that far), so I’m going to leave it a few more leaks until layering our pea gravel over these. We’ve started to do it for our rose bush and jasmine in the corner though, as these are a little bit more mature and I figure they’d be able to handle it.

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Decking 

We had the decking put in when the house was built and although it requires a little bit of upkeep, I do love it. I’m always so surprised how much better it looks when it’s been pressure washed and been stained. This year we decided to go for a slightly deeper colour, teak. Every year we seem to opt to go a little darker to cover a multitude of sins but I actually prefer it being dark like this. We’re planning on pressure washing and staining the fencing and decking surrounding the gravel area, too which will bring it all together.

When we were talking to our friends and family about re-doing our garden lots of people said about getting more decking at the bottom of the garden, but there are a few reasons that turned us off it. Firstly, it’s waaaay more expensive and time-consuming to install, especially when you have a wonky shape garden like ours. Secondly, we liked the contrast that the gravel gives to the garden, instead of it all being one colour.

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Cost breakdown

  • Bulk bag 800kg grey 20mm gravel £40 delivered from a local supplier
  • Colours teak matt decking stain 2.5L £20 from B&Q
  • Bedding plants, planters and shrubs £39 from a local hardware store

The thing that really transformed our garden here (other than blood, sweat and tears), was the gravel. So, if you are looking for a healthy-looking garden with low maintenance the use of decorative aggregate may be for you, it is easy to manage throughout summer and can create some stunning features in a garden adding colour and character. For landscaping projects, it allows you to keep the cost down as a decorative aggregate are cheaper than paving or other more extensive projects and you can enjoy your garden rather than maintaining it.

April 12, 2019|Home Decor|

Wedding Season: Choosing a Wedding Guest Outfit (Minus the Stress!)

It was April Fool’s the other day, and it was no drill when I said: “we’re getting married this month!”. It feels like only yesterday we were talking about how the wedding was 2 years away, and now it’s a couple of weeks away. There’s a couple of bits we still need to organise but we’re pretty much there. I’m sure there’s something important I’ve forgotten to do… Turns out, people worry a lot when it comes to choosing something to wear to a wedding.

We’ve had so many people ask us if what they’ve chosen is OK. Honestly, we don’t care what people wear to our wedding, as long as they’re there and they’re comfortable. I completely understand why people find it stressful though, there’s nothing worse than turning up somewhere and feeling under or overdressed. There’s also etiquette around what is allowed and what isn’t allowed, which quite frankly, is silly.

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Shopping for a special occasion outfit should be fun (shopping should NEVER be stressful!). Here are some helpful little tips from a real-bride if you’re on the hunt for something to wear to a wedding.

Consider the time of year

Are you heading to an A/W or S/S wedding? If it’s going to be cool, consider darker colours such as navy, deep red or emerald green. Alternatively, if it’s warm then you might want to opt for a lighter colour like pale pink, powder blue or nude. Pinterest is a great place to begin if you’re completely lost for ideas.

Think about comfort

If you’re going to a wedding, chances are, it’s going to be a long day. Choose something you’re comfortable in. There’s nothing worse than wearing an outfit and constantly worrying if your hair clips are falling out or if you’ve got sweat patches. No, no, no. These shouldn’t be things you should be worrying about at a wedding.

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Don’t break the bank

Lots of our guests have asked us what they should wear, and as I mentioned, we’re very laid back about this. There’s no need to bankrupt yourself just because you’re going to a wedding. Dig something out from the back of your wardrobe and pair it with some cheap high heels from Uppersole. If you don’t think you’ve got anything suitable, get down the charity shop!

Check the weather

Should you pack a raincoat or a pashmina? It’s difficult to predict the weather in the UK but usually, you can get an idea of what the weather is going to be like. Consider the wedding venue, too. If it’s going to be in a field, you might want to be mindful of the weather a bit more so than if it’s an indoor affair at a manor house.


If you’re unsure or you’ve got a couple of potential outfits in mind but don’t know what to order, put your mind at ease and double-check with the bride. If she’s anything like me, she’ll love it! It’s so exciting receiving pictures from my friends taking selfies in the mirror saying “Omg! Which one do you like? I’ve ordered 5 dresses 😂”.

April 3, 2019|Weddings|

Tiny Home Hacks: How to Create a Spacious Bedroom

Many of us look forward to crashing onto a comfy bed at the end of a long, busy day. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary to which you can retreat to wind down and put your feet up. The last thing you want when you’re ready to hit the hay is to be confronted with a floor filled with shoes or chairs draped in clothes. If storage is an issue, clutter is taking over, or you’re trying to make the most of a compact space, here are some tips to create a more spacious, serene bedroom.

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Opt for neutral walls

If you haven’t got a large bedroom, paying attention to colour is key. If you have a small space, opting for dark shades and prints can make the room look smaller. To create the illusion of a more spacious boudoir, stick to neutral tones, and use accessories or accents to add colour.

Dove grey, beige, and white work really well. If you do want to add interest, you can use cushions, lamps, vases and plant pots, candle holders, bed linen, curtains, rugs and frames to carry a theme and introduce new tones.

Invest in clever storage solutions

If you’ve become accustomed to a ‘floordrobe,’ now is the time to make some changes. Clutter can contribute to stress, and it detracts from the harmony and peace of the room, as well as affecting the aesthetic.

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If you don’t have space for chests and wardrobes, don’t worry. Make use of wall space, and look into clever storage solutions, such as an Ottoman divan bed from The Sleep Station. With this kind of bed, you can store clothes, bedding, and towels underneath the mattress.

It’s also a good idea to have a clear out periodically, and to store clothes you’re not going to use in the months ahead in a loft or basement. If your drawers are full of jumpers and coats, and summer is approaching, for example, you can free up room by boxing them up until cooler climes arrive once more.

Maximise natural light

Light always makes rooms look more spacious, so make the most of every drop of natural light. Open the curtains wide, use mirrors to bounce light around the room, and opt for light walls and floors.

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Embrace the minimalist vibe

Nothing eats up space like clutter. If you have a bijou bedroom, consider embracing the popular minimalist vibe, and keeping things simple. Don’t cover every inch of the walls in prints or frames or hide every metre of floor space under rugs.

Choose a basic colour palette and don’t go too crazy with accessories. Opt for understated patterns and prints like spots or graphic lines if you’re adding a couple of cushions to the bed, and use simple touches like plants and mirrors to add a homely feel.

If you long for more space in the bedroom, but you don’t have the option of extending or converting an attic, hopefully, these simple solutions will make all the difference. Freshen up the room with light tones, innovative storage options and effortless, chic decorative touches.

April 3, 2019|Home Decor|

The Finer Details To Focus On When Planning A Perfect Wedding

When you get engaged, and you start the process of wedding planning, it’s very easy to get carried away with dress shopping and looking around for the perfect venue. With endless lists of things to do and people to please, it can be a struggle to find the time and the energy to get the finer details right.

The trouble is that those little finishing touches can often make the day, enabling you to design a unique celebration that is personal to you and different from any other wedding your guests have attended. If you’re in the throes of wedding planning, here are some details you won’t want to miss off your list.

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Invitations

Whether you have a party of 30 or 300, you can use your wedding invitations to set the tone, provide clues to a theme and encourage your guests to get involved in the day. Choose images or themes that reflect your relationship and the kind of event you’re planning, don’t be afraid to inject some personality, and add personal touches.

Include your guests’ names, match the design to the type of celebration, and offer useful information. Take a look at sites like Countryside Art for inspiration, and think about doing something a little different to set your wedding apart from others. This could be anything from using tickets or passports for a destination or a festival-themed wedding to using a hand-drawn image of the venue or including a personalised message for your guests inside.

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Favours

If you dream of a setup that makes your guests’ jaws drop as they view the venue for the first time, it’s crucial to pay attention to the details, as well as the main features of the room or space.

You can make a splash with floral centrepieces or towering ice sculptures, but you can also make your friends and family feel special and provide them with a memento to treasure by decorating the tables with fabulous, bespoke favours. Think about the theme of the event, the kind of venue you’ve chosen, and your interests and passions.

If you’re a couple that loves food and drink, for example, you could opt for artisan truffles or homemade gin.

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Transport

You’ve found the dream venue, your outfits have been ordered, and the photographer is booked. Now, it’s time to take care of the logistics and work out how your guests and the bridal party are going to travel to and from the ceremony and the reception venue.

There’s an array of options available to you, from classic cars and sporty convertibles to tractors and trailers, vintage buses and campervans. Consider your party size and your budget, and then explore options that fit with the vibe of the day. If you’re planning a traditional wedding, vintage cars and old-fashioned buses are an ideal fit.

If you’re going for a beach wedding, boats or campers are a great idea. Group transport makes planning logistics easy, and it’s a fantastic way of enabling guests to get to know each other.

Wedding planning is often dominated by touring venues and bridal boutiques. While finding a perfect dress and booking a venue is essential, it’s wise not to lose sight of the impact of the finer details.

April 3, 2019|Weddings|
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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog written by me, Sam Charles! Ranked as Up and Coming on Bloglovin’, Strawberry Squeeze publishes content from health and beauty to travel and adventure.

I aim to updated the blog at least once a week (usually much more often!) with guides, inspiration and reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my posts 💕

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