Wednesday 22 May 2019

The downsizers: How this couple transformed their patio with DIY

After spending more than thirty years in their home, Des and Maire decided the time had come to downsize.

In September the couple moved to a smaller home in Cork city and by February the builders had finished their renovation work. The couple had a beautiful light-filled extension that opened on to their patio, and their attention turned to their garden.

With the Irish weather proving particularly changeable this past spring they weren’t able to tackle any large-scale projects, like levelling the garden, just yet. However, they were able to make dramatic changes to their patio with a budget of just €250, their own DIY skills and the help of the experts at Woodies.

“We found the whole experience very rewarding. I wouldn’t be a DIY person myself, but I do like my garden,” Des says.

Maire and Des

Both keen cooks, a herb garden was a must for them. They also wanted one that was within easy reach of the kitchen extension, and so a garden planter was the ideal solution.

“It works very well because it’s the ideal size, it’s very easy to transport and it would work in a balcony, or on an apartment patio. You could have trailing flowers out of it because of the height so it’s very useful. The herbs have settled into it and are thriving,” Des says.

Although they may be far from seasoned DIY experts, Des and Maire were able to find all the products they needed, as well as get advice and tips, from the staff at Woodie’s.

“We found the help we got was very good, especially when it came to reviving our old patio table. We weren’t sure whether the paint it or varnish and they were very helpful and gave us both paint samples and some varnish,” Des says.

Varnish shopping in Woodie's

“We tried them and went back for the varnish, because the table is sold teak and when we sanded it down it came up very well. It had been very weathered, but after sanding it the natural grain of the wood shone through. We got clear varnish and they advised us to give it three coats, which is very helpful as we hadn’t done these types of things ourselves. Sanding it down was a major job but it was oddly satisfying, not something we had done before,” he continues.

For Des and Maire, revamping their patio space was a new challenge, but a rewarding one. With a few simple but effective changes their space has been transformed- and just in time for some sunnier weather.

Life is continuously changing, and Des reflects that creating this new home marks a new chapter in their life together.

“Downsizing is a particular challenge because every other time you move in you’ve got to fill available space, whereas this time we have nowhere for anything. It’s a completely new experience but I think it’s good to take on new challenges.”

Maire sanding down their patio table

About the Homemaker series

Our perception of home has changed dramatically over the decades. Gone are the days when home meant a mortgage and house. These days, home is a semi-D and a share house; it’s a converted barn and a care facility; it’s a studio apartment and student digs.

Gone, too, are traditional household roles. The Homemakers of today come from all walks of life, and all sorts of homes. They know that home is made as much from bricks and mortar as it is from the memories we make there.

They also know that homes are rarely perfect in that glossy magazine kind of way. They are lived in and a little ramshackle but full of the things that matter like our framed photos, mantlepiece mementos and that favourite, if not slightly sunken, armchair. Home is the hand-me-downs and the inherited furniture, the walls we painted ourselves and the garden we planted with pride.

For thirty years, Woodie’s has been helping Irish families create their ideal home and garden. We found five very different Irish Homemakers and asked them to transform a pocket of their home with the help of Woodie’s. The Homemaker series documents their progress and shows that with a little help from the experts and the right materials, everybody can love where they live.

Sponsored by: Woodies

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