Last December, after much nagging from the children, I gave in and went shopping with them for a set of outdoor fairy lights for the front garden. Lots of our neighbours had put some up at the beginning of Advent and the boys had their hearts set on them.
While I loved the look of the ones our neighbours had, I was spending too much time thinking about where to plug them in to a socket, whether we would remember to switch them on or should we buy a timer, would our electricity bill be extortionate and all the boring problems that we adults find in things. The children just saw twinkly, sparkly lights and said “we want that too”.
A trip to the lighting department of our local DIY store was highly enlightening for me. Here we discovered solar powered fairy lights and all my doubts and problems – at least those related to Christmas lights – vanished. We snapped up a lovely long string of solar-powered lights, took them home, draped them over our rose arch in the front garden and marvelled at how pretty they were every evening.
When Spring arrived and I was spending more and more time in the back garden, getting it tidied up and Summer-ready, it struck me that it would be lovely to have some summery lighting around the pond for those long balmy evenings we’ll be having soon.
Off I popped to the DIY shop and came home with a bright, colourful string of paper lanterns, again solar-powered. The boys and I spent a sunny afternoon assembling the lanterns and hanging them between the fruit trees round the pond.
They brighten up the garden beautifully during the day and once the sun goes down, they light up automatically, making the garden much more inviting after dark. I am incredibly pleased I bought them.
In fact, I was so pleased with them that I had a bit of an upcycling brainwave. Last year I picked up a wonky, old coat stand that someone was throwing away – you know me and salvage, I can’t help myself – and brought it home to spruce up somehow. It has sat in the shed for over a year now, only coming out for part of last summer to use as a towel rack beside the paddling pool.
Struck by a light-inspired idea, I decided to scrap my plans for keeping the coat stand intact and instead to remove the top section and make a makeshift chandelier for our outdoor kitchen.
So this is what I was starting off with, a partly broken but nicely shaped top of an old coat stand. All I needed to upcycle this into a chandelier-type outdoor light was some newspaper, a can of spray paint (I chose to use white) and a string of solar powered outdoor fairy lights.
Step 1: Dust down the coat stand and set it onto a floor of newspaper.
Step 2: Spray paint the entire wooden frame, making sure to coat the undersides of the curved sections. Leave to dry then apply a second coat. Leave to dry again.
Step 3: Insert a screw-in hook into the stem of the coat stand. Fix a screw-in hook to the spot on the ceiling where you want the chandelier to hang.
Step 4: Unravel the fairy lights and set up the solar panel in a place where it will catch a lot of sun.
Step 5: Wrap the fairy lights around the wooden frame, leaving a length of lights to trail from the location of the chandelier to the solar panel.
Step 6: Hang up the chandelier by the hooks and wait for darkness to descend.