Garden room makeover: 'My colourful garden room cost next to nothing'
Leanne Baud pulled together a stylish look with second-hand steals, upcycled pieces and by rediscovering items she already owned
Leanne Baud was instantly smitten when she walked into the sunroom of this extended 1930s house. With windows on three sides and an overhanging roof to create a veranda, Leanne loved its summery vibe.
‘The veranda reminded me of my mum’s former home in Spain,’ recalls Leanne, who lives here with her husband, Ash, their daughter, Esmé, one, and Leanne’s sons, Oliver, 14, and Mason, 12. ‘I could see us throwing open the doors, having the barbecue going and the sunroom becoming a lovely indoor-outdoor party space.’
The sunroom was crying out for a makeover as everything in it was brown, but the rest of the house needed decorating first. Initially, Leanne thought she’d make do by putting in a sofa, armchair and small dining table she’d had in her little two-bedroom cottage.
‘The comfortably worn leather sofa and armchair looked right for the relaxed nature of the room where the boys play computer games and we entertain friends,’ she says. ‘But the tiny table looked completely out of proportion! I bought a long wooden table with a matching bench because, although I didn’t know how I’d decorate the room at first, I knew wood would go with everything.’
A few years passed with the existing décor but then Leanne gave birth to Esmé and went on maternity leave from her job as an emergency medical technician for the ambulance service. She decided it was time to transform the dull décor.
‘The brown was awful and everywhere – PVC window frames, window ledges, door frames, floor – and our leather sofa and armchair didn’t help,’ she says. ‘I particularly hated the brown window frames, so I painted them dark grey like the kitchen.’
Leanne, a keen Instagrammer (@paint_paste_prosecco) was inspired by a follower. She sanded the frames, cleaned them with white spirit and had a primer tinted to match Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe. She applied two coats and then an eggshell topcoat in the same hue.
As the work progressed, she decided to carry the same colour over the deep window ledges and onto the walls and skirting boards below. ‘I’d experimented with dark, dramatic tones in the rest of the house and grown to love Down Pipe,’ she explains. ‘It’s such a comforting colour and it’s made the sunroom look lovely and warm.’
After the main work was done, Leanne had no real plans, saying the room evolved through ‘instinct and impulse’. Although her love of upcycling also played a part. ‘We didn’t have much money growing-up, but my mum had an eye for design,’ says Leanne. ‘She would make a few metres of sale fabric or paint stretch to make our home look lovely.’
Leanne was delighted to get her hands on a free piano she saw advertised on Facebook Marketplace and decorated it in Farrow & Ball’s Yellowcake, leftover from painting Esmé’s wardrobe. ‘Ash and the boys play instruments, but no one plays the piano, so Ash thought I was bonkers!’ says Leanne. ‘I love yellow and grey together and I thought a bold yellow piano would be a fun feature to brighten-up the room.’
As well as using her DIY skills to add visual interest to the room, Leanne also made some practical pieces too, including a shelf from a scaffolding board she found in the garage. She also painted two charity shop chairs in Down Pipe and added new seat pads made from second-hand fabric.
‘Very little is new – I even bought the sofa and armchair from the previous owners of my old cottage,’ she says. The finished sunroom marks the end of Leanne and Ash’s renovation and is a room they’re very happy with. ‘In summer, we love leaving the doors open, both out to the deck and into the kitchen, so the breeze flows through the house,’ says Leanne. ‘At this time of year, the sunroom feels like more than one space, it’s easily my favourite room.’