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A life in antiques - A garden retreat...

PUBLISHED: 17:50 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:20 20 February 2013

A comfortable and truly personal outdoor haven

A comfortable and truly personal outdoor haven

Owner of The Packhouse in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on all her latest adventures in the world of Surrey antiques

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2008

Owner of The Packhouse in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on all her latest adventures in the world of Surrey antiques






Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place








Back from my break in France, I feel energised and refreshed. Summer holidays for me are a bit like New Year - they leave me feeling inspired to make changes to the hectic nature of everyday life, in the all-important pursuit of trying to juggle a better balance between home and work.

So, having said my goodbyes to my holiday idyll, I have come back home and have set about creating my very own escape in which to unwind, at some point each day, in a little corner of my garden. For me, this area has to be just as cosy as the rest of my home and possess all the necessary ingredients - an optimum amount of cushions and pillows to sink into; books, a notebook and magazines at hand; and an array of flowers, blankets and chilled summer drinks to all help create a comfortable and truly personal outdoor haven.

The French seem to have an inherent ability to create this atmosphere, in an effortless and visually appealing way that evokes a sense of grandeur and unpretentious decadence. The old 1900s French cot-beds we come across from time to time make fabulous frames in order to help create this look, simply and cost effectively. Their pretty metal frames can look great in their age worn, shabby chic state, but can be made to look more pristine by sanding off the rust and painting with hard-wearing Hammerite paint. By simply folding in one of the long sides of the frame, they can be transformed into elegant daybeds. Simply add a good quality ticking covered mattress on the base of the bed, cover with pretty eiderdowns or sheets and fill with fabulous cushions and throws.

They can be situated on their own in a shady corner or set out in a more structured outdoor room underneath a tented canopy, gazebo or old sail. Covered spaces enable you to enjoy this sense of freedom even when the weather is not so good.

My head is buzzing with ideas since returning from holiday and my new escape at home has provided me with the perfect haven in which to take time to process, reflect and unwind. I don't know about you but this summer I am certainly going to make the most of indulging my love of the outdoors, whenever I get the chance. Instead of feeling guilty, we should all indulge in a few simple moments of pure tranquillity.

It's good to be home!







Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place






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