Tips For Outdoor Living

A simple but effective way to create continuity is to keep the colour schemes somewhat similar. Bring colours you love indoors outside and use shades that coordinate well with your plants. You don’t have to have everything matching. Different surfaces add interest and texture.


Wood and stone go hand in hand.


Vintage metal dining chairs complement almost any table.


I find the simplicity of evergreens create a rather calming effect compared with the riot of colour in the rest of the garden.


Outdoor furniture is an investment, and nowadays it can be every bit as comfortable as a sitting room sofa.


We have been incredibly busy searching out special finds for our shop and as it is midsummer’s day we thought we would give you a small gift. I am adding lots of new items to the shop today and tomorrow. They are not listed or available yet, but they will be by Saturday morning (I will send you a reminder don’t worry!) and for the entire weekend, anyone who buys anything will receive a set of five French hazel herb marking sticks from our garden here in the Charente Maritime. Our summer gift to you.


79 thoughts on “Tips For Outdoor Living

    1. Ah, the siren call of the camera shutter knows no boundaries! It is truly difficult not to take photographs when one has decent subject material to hand. Thank you 🙂

  1. Beautiful… I love the idea of the candles in with the flowers in water. I will try that one 🙂

    Thank you, so much! please keep them coming.


  2. I really love your blog in the summer – I’ve been following for about a year now, and these pics are my favorite! We live in a coastal climate that has, quite literally, the opposite season as the rest of the hemisphere. While others are enjoying picnics, we add another layer of coats… so I really, really enjoy your pics! Enjoy those summer days!

    1. Oh my goodness, that is the coast for you, it seems to have a climate all to itself, we can often be sunny here whilst within a mile inland to the north and east it is thick cloud and stormy. It is so hot here at the moment I think anyone would welcome so cooler weather, but then as soon as it arrives, everyone will be complaining!!! xx

  3. Love these posts, Susan, that take me right into your garden chatting and enjoying the beauty and comfort you have provided! We are obsessed with ping pong and have tables at our city home and our beach home. What a great game for all ages to share together. And, yes, it can get very competitive but always so many laughs! Did you ever try my favorite group ping pong game, called “Everybody Up?” I am pretty sure that I mentioned it previously in the comments. I see by looking at Google that some people call our favorite ping pong game, “Around the World.” In our version, everyone has their own paddle and you only get one miss before you are out. Also, no need to put your paddle down during any point in our game. I am on a mission to let more know about this fun game that gets everyone playing.

    1. Hi Anne! Thank you for your wonderful comment, but I have to say that I am not sure now what is what to be honest when it comes to ping-pong and table-tennis. As a young girl I think the former was a game where the ball had to bounce on both sides of the net, whereas the latter is the one bounce on your opponent’s side – does that ring any bells? However, YOUR game sounds great fun, but impossible to play where we have our table. We need a smoother floor and more area – the mirabilis and the valerian do struggle to survive a little as it is!

    1. Hi Shari! It is indeed heaven. It’s just unfortunate that heaven needs some much work to get it looking like that, which leaves less and less time to sit back admiring it!! 🙂

  4. How lovely to offer something local, I shall def come to look at your shop on Saturday, thank you, I would do anything to have a table set like yours.

  5. I love the posts where you take us around your home or garden the most. A little glimpse into your wonderful oasis you have created, thank you for sharing.

  6. We moved into our new home last fall and all spring so far we have been working on creating a outdoor oasis. Your post and pictures have inspired me! Happy Summer!

    1. How’s it going? I can imagine it is great fun though and you will reap the rewards very quickly. Hopefully you will have a lovely summer and can now enjoy your new home. xx

  7. Lovely post. Our area seems to go from full-on winter to blazing heat with maybe a three day respite in-between. If you blink you’ve missed Spring. We have quite a large “deck” off the kitchen area that looks out on to our backyard fish pond and a couple of seating areas. Because of the slope of the land it goes from on-grade on one side to a full 5′ above on the other. It is furnished very comfortably and we have a 12′ long “harvest” table at one end. Perfect for family gatherings. Because of all the rain we have had this year everything is thriving. Overall the effect is lovely. I had visions of living just the way you depict in your post except we are plagued with mosquitoes. South Carolinians tease that the mosquito is their state bird. I think Georgia mosquitoes can match them for size and ferocity! Do you not have them in your area? We are fortunate to be “above the gnat line” (that ends somewhere in middle Georgia) so we don’t have to also contend with those pests but mosquitoes are a troublesome and ever more dangerous nuisance because of the diseases they carry. I’m anti chemical sprays and the natural deterrents seem to just make them laugh. Early to mid-mornings are pleasant – I guess ours sleep in – but any other time of the day you’re fair game! Glad you are able to make full use of yours!

    1. Ahhh mosquitos, sadly yes we do get them here and with the wet start to spring it seems they are thriving rather too well this year. We have never had so many. During the day they are not a problem at all, but evenings they really do make themselves known. We have found that lavender essential oil really does work, they fly around but don’t land on us, almost quite amazing to watch, I would highly recommend it, as like you we don’t use chemicals either. Your deck sounds delightful and it sounds as if you have had just the same sort of weather, everything is growing abundantly here too, although it is now very hot and very dry. xx

  8. When I am back and settled in France you can be sure I will be bringing an empty car to you which will return home contentedly stuffed to the hilt with lovely pieces from your shop. Be warned …. you will almost certainly require a re-stock when I have lurched and lumbered back down the road! Idyllic oasis doesn’t cover how lovely everything chez toi is looking. You achieve what you set out to and exceed it in my eyes. I adore those storm lanterns – such a gorgeous idea and whilst it may not have originated with you, a wise man once said to me that ‘being second, first’ is the savviest of the savvy 😉 xx

    1. Now that sounds like a perfect adventure – I shall stock up as much as I can in anticipation of your empty car 🙂 and hope you leave something for everyone else. And your idea of being second but savvy suits me just fine! I think much of life is like that anyway – one learns from others’ mistakes, and triumphs.

          1. That’s compulsory and I can bring gifts with me too … I have been craving Vin de Noix lately so expect a bottle of that for starters!! Xx

  9. Yes, it truly is an Oasis. The idea of the candles in the water looks lovely. I just might copy that. Susan, you make it all look so simply and elegant, no extra fussing. It truly is a talent. We will be passing through your area on our way to Brittany in October.

    The – SHE SHED TOUR – is occurring this weekend, in our corner of the world. I will send you some photos of a few of them. There seems to be a lot of interest.
    Waving across the ocean to the Hays family…
    Ali xx

    1. It has to be simple as I simply don’t have time for a lot of fuss! Do try the flowers and candles, they work a treat. Loved the photos, thanks for sending them and so glad it went well, I shall reply in the next couple of days. Are you coming in to see us on your travels? xx

  10. Looks as idealic as ever!
    Hope you are all well, have the puppies gone now to homes?
    Unbelievable weather here too in UK……fingers crossed it will last!
    Say hi to all x

    1. Yes they have all gone except for the one we are keeping and the one who goes to Norfolk in August. It seems very quiet suddenly! Amazing weather continues and I understand with you too, fingers crossed xx

  11. I wd like to know where the doggies have gone, first of all. And those candles puzzle me slightly. What I do every year is buying those short, fat round candles and put them in large bowls or plates and let them swim – no flowers, I think they would burn or singe?! Maybe I didn’t understand correctly.
    We had our gardeners in today. I just couldn’t cope with everything and they had to cut down two dead/spent trees and also they had to cut down to a reasonable size some incredibly huge ‘monster shrubs’…. They had to go after them with a huge 3-fold-ladder. Impressive (and expensive).
    We always use real glasses too for our outdoor drinks. But for heaven’s sake, Riedel glasses – they are so expensive…. You really live life to the fullest 🙂 🙂 🙂 – Good on you. We have about one to two breakages per week but we have cheap glasses and it doesn’t matter one bit.
    I love your ‘thrown together’ arrangements. They look the best and are great fun. Add the chicks, dogs, cat, the butterflies & bees and you’ve got a ‘heavenly oasis’…. Ours is littered with many tiny beasts at the moment. HH has cut the grass with the long, long, long daisies and millions of tiny bug(ger)s, flies and moscitoes had to leave their ‘nests’! The gardeners unearthed a bumblebee nest in the earth under that huge shrub…. good to know! I’m eaten alive with moscito bites and much scratching is accompaning me through each day. But it’s summer as of today – hurrah!

    1. The Reidel were a present from a friend, ideal as they are stemless and so rather fun! Your garden sounds rather like ours at the moment, with all the rain during the spring everything is quite out of control!! But most of all to put your mind at ease, the puppies have gone to the most amazing homes, they have made me actually cry with happiness to think we have brought such joy to some peoples lives, they have sent us photos, one older couple who lost their 17 year old dog a few months ago, another couple with the most adorable 3 year old daughter who have just moved to the area from paris. The list goes on, but yes they have wonderful caring homes. xx

      1. So so happy for all of you. I know the joy of getting a puppy…. What I think I couldn’t bear is Letting Go of them if they were mine! 🙂
        Love, ever….

        1. I thought I would be the same, but actually it was ok, really sad with one of our absolute favourites, but I think the fact they are all going to such amazing homes really helped xx

  12. Sorry I haven’t left a comment for ages, been super busy and right now enjoying some good weather in England, we are long overdue a nice summer! Can we stop by your shop when we are in France? If I acan persuade my husband to take a detour on our way down to the Dordogne!

    1. Of course you can, anytime, just send me a message when you are in the area. A cup of coffee or glass of wine might persuade your husband!! Enjoy your fabulous summer weather, the best since the 70’s so I hear. xx

  13. You have such a talent of making your home and garden beautiful. The candles look so pretty, I’ll definitely be pinching that idea.

  14. I think you must be having good weather at the moment, as It’s forecast to be 24c in Edinburgh this next week, and 30c down South, that’s tropical for us! Your garden is looking gorgeous, and your dining tables too. Not having one, except a small area to the front of my flat, I have garden envy anyway! xxx

    1. Thanks so much Janet, my brother in law has just sent us a message to say it was 37C in Stirling today, warmer than us! Sounds as if you are literally boiling, hope it is not so hot that you cannot enjoy it. I hear it is the hottest summer thus far since the 70’s in the UK. I hope it continues xx

  15. A lovely post, Susan! Now to find some glasses to use with candles and flowers–a great idea! We’ve been fairly lucky regarding mosquitos the last couple of years here, but we sometimes put out citronella candles to discourage them just in case—if only they smelled of lavender!

    1. I hope you managed to find some glasses and use them with the flowers and candles, it has become my ‘go to’ this summer! So pretty and so easy! Our mosquitos are particularly bad this year thanks to the very wet early spring I suspect. Not fun, so rather grateful I found out about the lavender spray. xx

  16. Thank you for taking us ‘out’ of your beautiful home to smell the flowers and feel the sunshine outside! Absolutely delightful . . . includi8ng the wine glasses . . . You lived awhile in New Zealand so you know we have a much, much longer time every year to smell the roses . . . . indeed, I eat lunch outside on all days I am at home at the time . . . there would be but a handful during which the fresh air and the greenery does not attract me thus . . . .so can more than understand your delight when the time comes . . . . am looking forwards to the weekend shopping venture . . . .

    1. We did indeed live in NZ and up north in the Bay of Islands too, so we had very mild winters when the average temperature was in the high teens and we could eat outside any day the sun was shining. The perfect sort of climate for me. I remember frosts at night and then 18C by midday! Enjoy your al fresco dining and days outside. xx

    1. I think it has been washed so many times it has completely faded away! Nothing is ever too precious around here, accidents happen all the time and with two puppies at the moment it’s a messy place!!! Hope you are enjoying this fabulous weather xx

  17. I love alfresco dining. We do that frequently at our New Mexico summer home, weather permitting. Texas is much too hot & humid in the summer to do much outdoor dining. I treasure all the outside activities in NM. Your patio is lovely & I can see it is put to good use for summer entertaining. I can’t wait to visit France again, such a lovely place! Happy Summer!

    1. NM sounds like an ideal climate, humidity is always such a killer, fortunately we don’t suffer much from it here. Let me know when you visit France in the future, would love to welcome you here. xx

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