We may be entering September, but with talk of an Indian summer on the horizon, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy your outdoor space! To help transform a basic, uninspired garden into a space full of personality and charm which can be enjoyed year-round, we caught up with award winning-interior stylist and We Love Home blogger Maxine Brady.
As featured in the August edition of Good Homes magazine, Maxine recently transformed the garden of her Brighton-based Victorian town house into a stylish oasis packed with space-saving hacks and splashes of colour, so naturally we were excited to hear exactly how she achieved her makeover, as well as her top tips for styling compact gardens and creating a low-maintenance space, not to mention those all-important garden party essentials!
You’ve created such a warm and welcoming garden - what inspired the design of your outdoor space?
I love Morocco and the roof top gardens and their indoor garden courtyards. I loved the way they creative corners in the space - areas to relax in and areas to grow herbs and plants - with a mix of shade and sun.
Then I saw the garden of Emily Henderson on her blog. Her patterned patio with its outdoor cocktail bar and dining area made my heart pound faster. My idea was to create an overall garden design that would take the best elements from Emily’s home and the Moroccan terraces, and put them into a space urban garden in Brighton.
What was the first step you took to achieving your garden makeover?
When I met garden designer, Thea Pitcher - while working on a Garden TV show, I loved her work and asked her to help with with my space. She designed the layout with the structural ideas for planting and paving then it was up to me to source the materials. Together, we created lots of little corners in my garden with private places, places to sunbathe, and to eat.
Did you have a budget in mind…and did you stick to it?
Budgeting for a garden re-design was a steep learning curve. I kept a strict spreadsheet of my costs. What I failed to do was put in a contingency for anything that went wrong. And with a garden, things always go wrong. In my case, the drainage caused a huge problem which you wouldn’t discover until you started digging. Also, I change some of the design as we went along which did add to the budget.
So yes, I did have a budget in mind. And no I didn’t stick to it. But in the end I wanted my garden to be exactly how I wanted. There was no point cutting corners at the last moment. Instead, I worked extra hard, taking on more freelancing work to pay for it. From my experience as an interior stylist, I knew that a beautiful garden would add 20% value to my home.
What tips do you have on how to get the most out of a smaller garden or even balcony?
A garden is a very unique space to design. In small spaces, it is tempting to keep the space clean and free of clutter. The opposite rule applies to a garden. Although it may be tempting to put all your planting at the edges of your outdoor space, instead create little corners and pockets of flowers, and nooks to sit in.
How do you accessorise your garden furniture?
Planters on wheels are a godsend in small gardens as you can move them around if you want to. I’ve got nine planters in my garden - and I’m going to add more in Summer. I have planters dotted around filled with herbs. I’ve painted all the woodwork in either white or blue to add a splash of colour.
For the less green-fingered among us, do you have any advice for creating a low-maintenance style?
Goodness. I’m so not green-fingered at all. My mum is my go-to expert for gardening advice. And I now go to the local garden centre and ask the staff there for help. I’ll show them photos of my plants that I’m worried about and ask hem to their tips on what to do.
Which plants did you choose and why?
I wanted an edible kitchen garden. So among the flowers, boarder plants and trees there is lavender, rosemary, mint, rocket, kale, parsley, fennel and chives. When preparing diner, I just pop into my garden, pick my salad leaves and then make herb salad. Or a peppermint tea, I use fresh leaves. Or a cook up coconut kale all home grown in my own garden.
Now what’s the point of such a beautiful garden if not to host a party! What are your top three must-haves when hosting a garden party?
A great dining table for friends and family to gather around. I have the Miami one from Out and Out, with benches. it’s designed for small spaces in mind. The benches are ideal as you can squeeze an extra guest (or two) at meal times.
Lighting is key. You need to light up your space way past the sunset. I have festoon lights strung up above, solar powered lights in my tree and then I plan to add more low level lights soon.
Lastly, if you have paved flooring like me. Invest in beautiful, stylish crockery, glasses and jugs. I love bamboo plates, and have a beautiful blue plastic jug that looks like a chic glass one.
(Click here to check out Maxine's post on Al Fresco Dining Ideas for your Garden)
What’s next on the agenda for your home updates?
Ooh - I’m daydreaming about converting my attic space. But that needs lots of saving. In the short term, I’m going to create a mini yoga studio space at home.
You’ve recently launched the Secret Styling Club, with fellow stylist Laurie Davidson – tell us about it.
Laurie & I are both utter interior geeks. We wanted to create styling workshops so that we could share our expert know-how with other interior lovers just like us. Our aim in the workshops is to de-mystify design, help people design a home they love using the things they already own.
We host workshops across the UK - which are fun get togethers. They are hugely popular and we have collaborate with some amazing brands too. It’s a complete passion project of ours.
Read more about the Secret Styling Club here
With Autumn almost upon us we’ll soon be heading indoors. What is your go-to style for the home?
I love to switch things up in my home during Autumn to make my space feel cosy and welcoming. I make sure I have lots of scented candles burning while I work. And I fill my fireplace with candles to light it up. The throws come out and I layer up my bed and sofa so that I have something to snuggle under when watching TV.
Click here to read Maxine's tips on styling a cosy bed for winter
Where do you look for new style inspiration?
TBH, I never-ever switch off. I’m always looking for inspiration. From museums, shop interiors, on holiday - or the houses that I style for magazines. I’m always asking for advice on how to style spaces.
And finally, what has been your best purchase to date?
So many - I’m a completely bargain hunter - even finding things in the street that people throw out! I wrote a whole post on how I filled my home for free (inspired by a TV show I’m working on)
I adore my Rocco bed that I bought off Gumtree for £120. I have a beautiful Oak desk that I adore that was £40. My Edwardian dining table was bargain for £120 on Ebay. My velvet sofa.com sofa was £100 on eBay.
My favourite items all come from Morocco. I adore the ceramics, blankets, bowls, art and cushions that I have found in the bazaars in Marrakech. I wrote a shopping guide here