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"I collected wooden pallets on my travels"

If you have read my post on "How to design a small urban garden", you will already know that after we fitted this box-standard pergola, I wanted to transform it into something that made you feel like you were on holiday. Somewhere to eat lunch, enjoy an afternoon nap or sip on late-night drinks under the stars.


I really wanted a nice large corner sofa but I couldn't find something online to either fitted my budget at the time or the gap to fit it in, so I set about to making my own!

I started by collecting wooden pallets on my travels, either from industrial estates or from neighbouring house.

Note: I always ask before taking, but generally it seems you're doing people a favour by taking things away .

I piled up one pallet on top of another and cut my seatings to the sizes I wanted.

One side I kept quite wide to be the daybed, the other narrow to be just a bench.

I popped out the slats with a crow bar and butted them all together.

Obviously you don't "have" to do that, it is pretty hard work (and a few slats will get broken in the process too) but I would say:

A: the result will look a whole lot better as far more removed from looking like a pallet

B: you will be able to use it even without cushions.

Give it a good sand down ( none of your guests will want to get stung by splinters).

I finished by painting with some fence treatment. I purposely chose for a colour that didn't look like pallets, I went for a lovely teak colour for that lovely exotic feel.

But the rustic natural colour of the pallet might fit perfectly with your scheme in which case just cover it with a clear fence treatment.


We decided to create a roofing for the pergola, as let's face it, UK weather is unpredictable, and it is a nice thought to know you will be able to enjoy a cup of tea in the garden in any given weather. Also this means you can leave you cushions out permanently without having to worry.

We placed some batons of 2x1" treated wood across the top. Spaced them out frequently to make sure it was sturdy enough to resist some of these heavy storms we get in winter.

We covered those batons with PVC sheets that we overlapped carefully to make sure no rain seeped through. We went for clear PVC to let as much light through as possible.


The make the seating pads I ordered some 8cm-thick foam cut to size. Then I quickly whipped up some covers for them out of some batik fabric I had left from recovering the dining chairs.

For the main decorative items it's a good idea to stick to the same colour for all. Here I went for a natural colour. The side table is a vintage bamboo table from eBay, the lampshade is rattan and from Wayfair, the floor lanterns are also bamboo and from Maison Du Monde. You can see how choosing the same colour for all helps to pull the look together.

For the cushions, if it is Moroccan we're after, then the more cushions the merrier! Be brave and pattern clash! the trick is to stick to a strict colour scheme of 2 to 3 colours and mix plains, florals and graphics. If you stick to it it will all tie in nicely.

You can't get a truly authentic moroccan feel without a tonne of lanterns, so get them all: table lanterns, floor lanterns, hanging lanterns, fill them with battery powered tea lights or you can get solar-powered ones too from places like Lights 4 Fun. When they're all lit a night and those little twinkles glow in the dark, it takes the entire look to a whole new level, creating fairytale magic reminiscent of inside one of those luxurious Madinas in Marrakech circa El Fenn Hotel.

"be brave and "pattern clash"!


The bougainvillea in the above picture is actually artificial, I planted the plastic pot inside a beautiful terracotta planter and even filled it with compost. Whilst it would be impossible to keep a real one happy in this country, now I get to enjoy this year-round pop of colour next to the pergola (smug face).

 TOP CHEAT! I really wanted the finish detail of the pergola to be like one of those decadent 4 posters ornate daybeds seen in posh holiday resorts. I started looking for reclaimed wooden architraves on Ebay, but wasn't finding quite the right amount and for the right price. Until one day by great chance (once again why you should keep your eyes peeled at all time!) I found this large carved wooden frame in my local charity shop! It was heavily discounted as the mirror was missing. I took it apart and sawed it to fit the front of the pergola. And boy oh boy doesn't that look like a convincing cheat!?


Place a mirror at the back of your garden in a strategic position so that it reflects a beautiful part of the garden. It will create this magical "window to the wild" effect.

I found this vintage mirror in the street, someone had dumped it outside their house (I will never understand why people don't just walk things to the charity shop as opposed to living them to deteriorate under the elements). It adds a touch of vintage colonial style which I LOVE.




pergola from Screwfix

bamboo side table from Ebay UK

rattan ceiling pendant, artificial bougainvillea, outdoor cushions, outdoor rug from Wayfair UK

bamboo table lanterns from Maison Du Monde

Moroccan metal lanterns from HomeSense

find similar garden mirrors from Cox & Cox

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