A Design Notes Christmas special. How the writer and shop owner Amanda Brooks decorates her home in the Cotswolds for Christmas.
Ah, spring: The chill in the air magically dissipates, the sun begins to set at a palatable time, and flowers start to bloom again. You may be getting excited for barbecues and al fresco dinners to come, but you have to dust off the outdoor patio furniture and barbecue that’s gone unused—and probably rained or or snowed on—first. Then, it’s time to set your sights on sprucing up the garden, as well as trading out things like your doormat or other outdoor decor. SHOP ALL PURPOSE CLEANER If it’s been a particularly harsh winter, your furniture might look tired, dingy, and less than inviting—and your garden might need a little more than a touch of TLC. Luckily, getting your outdoor space ready for spring doesn’t have to be a weekend-long affair. Here’s your plan of action: Gather The Right Supplies While many cleaners work for indoor and outdoor spaces, I like to keep a separate set of supplies—like a soft-bristle brush, a hard-bristle brush, washcloths, and in the garage for easy access. (Just make sure everything’s stored in a cool, dry place.) Wipe Down Your Patio Furniture First, use a brush or dry cloth to wipe away any loose materials, then use a garden hose with a spray attachment to dislodge lingering dirt or surface debris. If you have plastic or resin patio furniture, simply spray everything with a gentle all-purpose cleaner (like ours, which has no harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia). Then wipe it down with a sponge or damp cloth to keep plastic furniture looking as good as new. For any wicker, teak, or rattan patio furniture, skip the power-washer and opt for a mild soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to remove any grime. Make sure any metal furniture isn’t rusted, and take your fabric seat covers out of storage. (Even if they were fully dry when I put them away, I like to sniff them for any signs of mold or mildew just in case.) Now’s a good time to consider applying a water-repellent fabric protector to minimize future staining. Clean The Grill Inside & Out Hopefully you ended the season last year by giving the grill a proper and thorough cleaning. Either way, now’s the time to get it primed and prepped for backyard cookouts. After you’ve checked the grill for remnants from last summer’s soirees, get rid of any residual carbon depots that can harbor bacteria and cause the grill to heat unevenly. Then, use a wire brush, a solution of warm water and dish soap, as well as a white vinegar and baking soda solution to scrub the grill grates clean—now and after every cooking session. Fire up the grill, closing the hood, and wait at least 30 minutes for the extreme temperature to singe any stuck-on food or grease. Next, dip the brush into a bucket of warm, soapy water and scrub off all the carbon from the grates. Then turn off the gas, disconnect and remove the propane tank, and let the grill cool completely. Remove anything from the grill that you can easily take off, like the grates, burner-control knobs, warming racks, and grease trays—and soak them in the warm, soapy solution for at least an hour. Once those are cleaned, scrub down the entire outside of the grill using a similar solution of warm water and dish soap, as well as a large kitchen sponge. Get The Garden In Good Shape The best time to get your garden beds ready for the year of growth to come is about two weeks shy of when you plan to plant anything. If you left an annuals in the ground from last year, now’s a good time to check on them, ensure the soil isn’t impacted, and adjust your care accordingly. Inspect each plant for any signs of winter damage, then access what each plant needs: Does anything need to be repotted? Should you stock up on fertilizer? Pull any weeds and rake off or trim any brown leaves from last year's perennial flowers, and think about getting any window boxes or other individual plants and flowers. Trade Out Your Doormat + Other Decor Once you’re done with the furniture, garden, and grill, it’s time for the finishing touches: Trade your heavy-duty winter doormat for something more airy, and re-string any outdoor lights or lanterns. Add any additional pieces of decor, like all-weather candles, a terrazzo fireplace, or throw pillows, et voila: Your space is ready for relaxing. While getting your outdoor space ready for spring feels like a time-suck, you’ll be happy you prepped your patio as soon as it’s time for a barbecue! xx MLK
They wanted the financial flexibility to travel, adventure, and live off the land So they set off to build a timber-framed tiny house
Name: John and Fin Kernohan and some cats, dogs, and a pet chickenLocation: GeorgiaSize: 304 square feet inside space. Years lived in: 10 years, owned My boyfriend and I, like many others this year, used some of our quarantine time to work on our outdoor spaces, particularly our backyard and deck. We added way too many more plants to our deck, purchased a hammock for relaxing, and planted veggies from seed.