Our Garden Makeover: Before and After


This summer has been something of a whirlwind when it comes to house things. We’ve sold a house, remortgaged, turned a junk room into a nursery (more on that soon) and most recently we’ve transformed our garden from an eyesore into a place we enjoy spending time.

  • Before---View-from-the-house---Beak-Up-Crafts

Wayne and I can’t take all of the credit for how it looks now as we had to call in the experts to landscape it, but all of the painting of walls, fences, the outhouse, assembling furniture, the BBQ, the fixing up of trellises and potting of plants has been done by us. Well, it’s been done by Wayne (with a bit of painting and the potting of clematis by me). He’s been a total trooper and spent hours upon hours of doing DIY while I’ve either been at work, resting or laid up with pregnancy aches, in order to get everything ready for when our baby arrives in October. Without wanting to sound all sickly and vom-inducing, he’s been an absolute star and I can’t thank him enough.

  • Before---From-the-bottom-of-the-garden---Beak-Up-Crafts

So onto the makeover, and I’ll start by saying that gardening really isn’t our thing. However, with a back garden that measures more than 100ft it was something we knew we had to get on top of. The only problem was, over the years (and before we owned the house) the garden had become a mismatch of areas, with a cracked old patio with weeds poking through, a concreted corner and a gravelled area where a vegetable patch used to be which had since been taken over by weeds.

Before---Gravel-area---Beak-Up-Crafts Stepping-stones-in-the-back-garden---Beak-Up-Crafts

It seemed like an insurmountable task. No way were we qualified to lay a new patio (or dispose of the old one) and moving the tonnes of gravel ourselves just didn’t bear thinking about. We didn’t have the skill, knowledge, equipment or time. Plus, I know that no matter how hard we tried, it would never look as good as if we got professional landscape gardeners in, and we would probably hate the garden by the end of it if we tried to do it ourselves.


Sometimes you’ve just got to know your limits and call in someone who knows what they’re doing! We chose Landmark Yorkshire and after a visit to talk about what we wanted, a sketch of ideas and a quote, we were all systems go.

It took quite an outlay to transform the garden but we couldn’t be happier now it’s done. We actually want to spend time out there and it’s actually nice to look at through our French doors for the first time ever!

Purple-Clematis---Beak-Up-Crafts Mini-lemon-tree---Beak-Up-Crafts

We’re so pleased with it and next year we’re hoping to add a summer house or more seating to the bottom of the garden too as that gets the sun for most of the day. I hope you like these before and after photos – I still can’t quite believe the difference and I’m glad I took some pictures before the work to remind me just how awful it was!

Before---Weeds-on-the-old-patio---Beak-Up-Crafts Edging-and-plum-slate-border---Beak-Up-Crafts

After the landscapers had wielded their green-fingered magic, Wayne and I painted some of the fences ourselves using Sadolin wood stain and re-painted our outside walls using Sandtex masonry paint in Cornish Cream. I really love the colour of the natural wood stain and the bright but soft colour of the masonry paint. I think this newly-painted corner especially adds a nice separate area to our garden.

  • Before---Corner---Beak-Up-Crafts

Painting the old breeze block wall was a bit tough as it took a lot of paint to cover it and it took two coats due to its rough texture, but the brick wall was so easy and the paint didn’t drip at all. The breezeblock wall took more than a 10l tub on its own because of its surface but that’s no reflection on the paint which was smooth and just the right consistency. With a second mega pot of Cornish Cream paint we had enough to finish that wall off, paint the other outside wall and the inside of the outhouse too, which was a nice bonus.

Fingers crossed now that we have a really sunny September so we can make the most of our new garden! Are you planning a garden makeover, big or small?

Lots of green-fingered love,





Disclaimer: We paid for the garden to be landscaped ourselves but the Sadolin and Sandex products were gifted to me for review purposes.

{DIY} Upcycled Brick Door Stop

Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts

I’m a big fan of exposed brickwork in houses, especially when it’s from the Victorian era, but not every house is lucky enough to be blessed with such a gorgeous feature.

We have a big pile of bricks on our garden from when we had our French doors put in last summer. We tried (and failed) to build a barbecue from them and as a result they’re still just sitting there. I thought it would be nice to upcycle one of them and bring it indoors and came up with this DIY to make a clean and modern door stop. I think this would look great in an industrial-style warehouse loft apartment or in a cool and contemporary office.

What You Need:

Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts

  • A brick, clean and dry
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (other matte paint will work well too, but I prefer the finish of Chalk Paint)
  • A bristle brush
  • Washi tape
  • Strong glue
  • Felt
  • An old sheet

How to Make it:

  1. Make sure your brick is clean and dry. Lay down the sheet to protect your work surface.
  2. Cut three long strips of wash tape. Wrap a strip around your brick then repeat, but this time double up the thickness. You can make as many stripes as you like, it’s up to you!
  3. Using the bristle brush, paint the brick using the chalk paint. Don’t feel like you have to get into every nook and cranny as I think it’s nice to let some of the texture of the brick show through.
    Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up CraftsUpcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts
  4. Leave the brick to dry.
  5. Once dry, carefully peel off the wash tape. If any paint has crept under the tape you can scrape it off with a knife.
    Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts
    Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts
  6. Measure a piece of felt to cover the bottom of the brick.
  7. Using strong glue, stick the felt to the bottom of the brick. Let it dry.
    Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts
  8. That’s it – you’ve just created an upcycled contemporary brick door stop!

Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts

Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts

Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts

Upcycled brick door stop - Beak Up Crafts

I hope you enjoyed this DIY. I would love to hear if you have any other ideas for upcycling old building materials and if you have a go at making this door stop.

Lots of upcycling love,





This post is my entry for the Able Skills competition as hosted by Claireabellemakes. Thanks for asking me to take part Claire!



Product Review: PlastiKote Fast Dry Project Enamel

First coat of yellow

Hello again, I hope you’re all having a lovely week and have some nice things planned.

For me, I’m still in full-on wedding mode (36 days to go and counting!), which means my craft projects are still very much wedding-based at the moment. This week it’s been like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – with spray paint!

My latest bit of DIY has seen me use product I’ve never used before, and I thought I would share a quick review in case you might be thinking of trying out something like this yourself.

The product I used was PlastiKote Fast Dry Project Enamel, or for want of a better term – fancy spray paint. The purpose? To paint some teapots a different colour.

PlastiKote Spray PaintI needed to find some teapots in different colours for some wedding decor, but after searching high and low on eBay, in charity shops and anywhere else I could think of, the only ones I could find that were perfect for what I wanted were very pricey.

Then Wayne had an idea – we had been given some teapots by the lovely people at Yorkshire Tea (this is another story!) – and why couldn’t I just spray them a different colour? Genius!

Yorkshire Tea tepot

So after a bit of research off I went to our local DIY store, where I bought a small tin of PlastiKote Fast Dry Project Enamel in bright yellow and one in sky blue.

The teapots I was painting were a bold red, with a black logo on the front (above) so I guessed they might take a bit of disguising. However, I had a look on PlastiKote’s Facebook page and there were plenty of examples of the paint being used for different purposes, and thought it would fit the bill.

The instructions on the spray paint say:

  • Several thinner coats of paint are better than one thick coat
  • Make sure you spray in a well-ventilated area (essential as it stinks and I imagine would give you a massive headache and would be dangerous)
  • Spray from a distance of 20-30 centimetres
  • The paint is touch dry in about an hour (when you can do a second coat) and totally dry after three hours
  • Each small tin is enough to cover 1.2 metres square – plenty for one teapot

Round one

I started off with the yellow paint, and I’ve got to say, this did not cover the old colour of the teapot as well as the sky blue did. After the first coat (where I got a bit too close and put too much, causing it to run!) I could still see the old logo peeking through.

This did not seem to happen with the sky blue, which covered it a lot better.

First coat of yellow

Round two

I let the paint dry (went off and had my dinner) then came back to do a second coat, this time turning the teapots upside down as I had missed the bottom in the first coat. I’m not sure why, but the yellow paint still didn’t seem to cover as well, and despite me now knowing how much paint to apply after my earlier mistake, it still seemed to run a lot with the yellow – but weirdly not with the blue. Maybe the yellow paint is a bit thinner?

Sky blue round two

Anyway, I left them to dry, with little trickles running down the side of the yellow teapot. Very annoying, but wiping them just caused more mess.

Round three

The final coat of the blue paint and the new blue teapot looks pretty good. As for the yellow, it didn’t turn out too well in the end, as after yet another coat, you could still see the logo and there are some really annoying paint runs. I’m half thinking about doing it again on another teapot, but it would mean buying more of the stuff and it possibly not working again. Maybe I will just have to try and find a yellow teapot after all…

Blue and yellow teapot

Would I recommend it?

Yes and no. I would recommend the sky blue paint – it covered really well, even the black logo. The yellow paint, on the other hand, did not provide anywhere near as good coverage, seemed to be runny and was much more hard work.



How to: Upcycle a Bureau with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

How to upcycle a bureauI don’t know about you, but when you get into crafting, your wool, yarn and craft-related *stuff* just grows at a ridiculous rate. I mean, who is able to go and look at the haberdashery department of their local department store or to the stall on the market without coming home with an armful of new supplies? Not me, anyway.

I started off with one ball of wool and one crochet hook which was pretty easy to stash away in a corner of the living room. As my love for crochet grew, so did my collection of wool and the little amigurumi animals I made with it.

This called for a solution, not least because my other half was getting a bit fed up with a pile of wool in the corner of the room…

We had an old bureau in the workshop which hadn’t been used for years. All it needed was a bit of TLC and I knew it could be the solution I was looking for.

annie sloan

I did a bit of research, and not being someone with a great deal of patience(!), I decided that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was the way forward, mostly because of the minimal preparation (a quick wipe down and no sanding!) and the vintage look they produce.

Cue a trip to Boathouse Originals in Hull to buy some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Original with a brush and some clear soft wax and I was all set.

All I needed was a sunny day and a free afternoon to breathe a new lease of life into a tired old piece of furniture. I couldn’t be happier with the results (see pic at top of this post!)

What I did:

  1. Carried the old bureau out into the garden and gave it a good clean with a cloth and some warm water.
  2. Dried it all off and removed the drawers.
  3. With an Annie Sloan bristle brush and I did two coats of the chalk paint, letting it dry in between. This didn’t take long in the glorious sunshine! (It was quite tricky getting into all of the nooks and crannies in the inside shelves, though – I won’t lie!)
  4. I then washed the brush thoroughly and used it to paint on one coat of clear wax.
  5. I gave the bureau a good buff with a white cloth and it was done!

The paint went on really easily with no prep other than cleaning the bureau down to get rid of any dust. I’m really pleased with it :)

The bureau is now at home in our front room, which is a dining room/craft room, and stores all of my crafting paraphernalia.

Inside the bureau

And here’s the new bureau in pride of place in our new dining/craft room:

Upcycled craft bureau

So have you been tempted to try and upcycle an old and unloved piece of furniture? I would love to see your pictures.