By Amy Walters
THIS WOMAN has spent just five-thousand-pounds transforming her boring back garden into an exact replica of the LOVE ISLAND garden – along with the infamous egg chair and fire pit.
Engineer Alex Lawson (26) from Aberdeen, Scotland, first became interested in DIY after she purchased her first home in September 2019. Previous to this, she had always loved looking at show homes as well as interior magazines, so was eager to learn the skills needed to transform her home.
Alex had never even put up a shelf prior to purchasing her home and although her place was a new build, she wanted to create a space that had a ‘homely’ feel to it, where she could really channel her modern and chic style – so took the plunge and began transforming her home.
For Alex, the main part of her home that she had inspiration for was her garden. As she is a lover of the television show Love Island, she knew she wanted to create an area similar to that of the villa’s, complete with enough seating and a fire pit for people to go for a ‘chat.’
Alex set about removing her garden gate, as this was where she wanted her seating area and moved this to the opposite side of the fence. After drawing up the initial design, she brought in an external company to complete the grounds work (£3,500) and then set about upcycling the patio with a minimalist patterned design (£60), as well as completing the fencing (£660) and pergola (£260) by herself.
For the patio, she used a stencil and masonry paint, which gave her boring grey slabs a whole new look and was a cost effective way of transforming this area. Alex took inspiration from an Instagram account who completed their fencing using roof batons, so decided to give this a go too.
Alex wanted the seating area to have the infamous egg chair, as well as an ‘L’ shaped sofa and decorated the area with plants from her local garden centre, and lighting and blankets from Amazon and Matalan, which cost just £120 in total. She also created her own pergola using wooden slats which she cut down to size herself, which saved her £300.
After six weeks of grafting across weekends and evenings, the Love Island inspired garden was complete. Despite the process being a ‘rollercoaster’ with many ups and downs, Alex is proud of the work that she has completed and finds it rewarding to enjoy the garden she designed and built herself.
“I have always loved looking at show homes, as well as pictures of pretty homes in magazines – but my real interest in DIY started when I purchased my first home in September 2019,” Alex said.
“I bought a three-bedroomed, terraced townhouse for three-hundred-and-fifteen-thousand pounds and although everyone kept telling me that the benefit of moving into a new build is that there’s nothing to do, I knew I wanted to create my own homely feel.
“When I first moved into my house, I had never even put up a shelf before but I wanted to find my style, so decided to take the plunge and have a go at DIY for the first time.
“Growing up, my dad was always very handy around the home and I was his little sidekick whilst helping him with projects.
“In April 2019, he sadly passed away, but it has been lovely to be able to use his tools and the skills he taught me over the years to create a home I love.
“I was grateful to have an outdoor space, but I wanted to change it as it was mostly laid lawn with a small, slabbed area to store the bins.
“Most of my inspiration for the garden came from accounts I follow on Instagram, as well as my own design ideas – but I wanted a Love Island themed seating area and fire pit.
“I knew I wanted the seating area in the spot that got the most sunshine, so I watched where the sun was for the majority of the day and then used this as a basis for the design.”
Alex drew up the initial design of how she wanted her garden to look and hired an external company to complete the grounds work, going on to do the patio upcycle, fencing and pergola by herself.
“After spending over three-and-a-half-thousand pounds on labour and material costs for the decking, outdoor electrics, patio extension and planters, I began taking on my DIY tasks,” said Alex.
“The inspiration for the patio upcycle came from a page on Instagram who I had followed for a while and I loved the cost effective idea of using a stencil and masonry paint to give boring grey slabs a whole new look.
“The horizontal fencing inspiration came from another DIY account, who saved so much money doing her fence cladding using roof batons, so I decided to give this a go too.
“The pergola design I made up as I went along and used a mix of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest.
“I knew I wanted the infamous egg chair and ‘L’ shaped sofa, but the rest was added over time to give it a European contemporary feel.
“In total, the garden cost me just under five-thousand pounds and I kept costs down by fabricating my own pergola rather than using a pre-made kit which was about fifty per cent cheaper and by using paint for the patio instead of buying brand new slabs.”
Alex experienced a few hurdles along the way, such as the weather not working in her favour which meant that she had to work over the weekends and most evenings to complete her project, which took over six weeks to finish.
“I’m so used to being able to complete projects on my own, but due to the size of the wood used, I was really reliant on others,” said Alex.
“I would happily DIY until late at night, but I appreciate that not everyone has it as a big hobby like me – so the weather and timing were my two biggest hurdles.
“I absolutely love my garden now and it has been worth every ounce of effort to be able to enjoy it. My family and friends are a fan too and I regularly host garden parties now, where I love toasting marshmallows around my Love Island inspired fire pit.
“I’m taking a break from DIY until my next project of creating a utility room in my garage, as well as a complete overhaul of my master bedroom.
“I would encourage everyone to have a go at DIY before immediately asking a professional, as I hadn’t done any of the projects I have completed in this house before and I am so pleased with what I have managed to achieve.
“Split your projects into sections and work out what you will be able to do yourself, whilst also searching on Instagram for hacks from people who have achieved looks for less.
“It’s been a rollercoaster – but I always try to remind myself that it gets worse before it gets better. Being able to now enjoy the garden and look around at all of the hard work I’ve done, is so rewarding and satisfying.”