A Serene Summer Sanctuary: How Lisa Durkin Saved Her Summerhouse

Lisa Durkin of @placeshaperinteriors certainly had her work cut out when she decided to rescue her 10 year old summerhouse from disrepair. She had tired of its outdated, beach-inspired scheme and was set on transforming it into a Bohemian garden retreat. Lisa talks us through a remarkable transformation…

The Project

The pale blue exterior was probably very cool and cute in its heyday, but a few years on and my once-loved summerhouse was looking more shabby than shabby chic!

 I inherited the blue and very creamy yellow colour scheme on this 10 year old, corner summerhouse when we moved in 18 months ago. It was looking a bit tatty and worn, had gone damp in places and basically needed a complete overhaul, or else we’d need to invest in a new one.

The Process

Before painting I used a wire brush to get rid of any flaking and loose paint, then my husband  filled in any gaps and damp /rotten areas with wood frame filler and decorators caulk to give it more protection.

Let’s get this clear – I do 85% of all the work on my home projects, but hubby does help out with a few bits like filling, caulking and hanging heavy mirrors! He’s a perfectionist and criticises everything I do, so when he gets involved I have to do the job properly and not cut any corners! Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Hubby gets over excited when ‘caulking,’ (that’s his OCD) and at one point it looked like the whole summerhouse exterior had been grouted as he managed to fill in every gap and line.  Five tubes of caulk and wood filler later and I actually think this 10 year old summer house will outlive us now!

Next I got to work on painting the exterior – on a scorching hot Sunday. It wasn’t my brightest idea, because as well as a sunburnt back and neck, it was so hot the paint in the tray went crusty and thick. This was easily solved however with a touch of white spirit to make it more usable.

Lisa’s Top Tip: If you do have to paint in hot weather – just pour out small quantities at a time so it doesn’t ‘go off’ as quick.

The colour we chose is French Grey Dark -163 by Little Greene paint company . It matches the windows and doors of our house, which were also repainted fairly recently.

For the interior I wanted a plain white box – which meant painting  the floor and the roof (previously wood stained) in white. My inspiration for the ‘all white’ space came from one of my favourite Instagram accounts @Debbies_House . 

Her house is simply to die for and her Pool House, painted all in white, is such a a stunning space that I just had to imitate it.


I used a Leyland Oil Based eggshell paint in ‘Classical White’ for the walls and ceiling (2 coats). We weren’t sure what paint had been used on the walls before so I was advised to go for the Oil based eggshell so it would stick better. Oil based paint takes longer to dry in between coats (around 8 hours).

I primed the ceiling using Zinsser Cover Stain,  (1 coat) before 2 coats of the eggshell paint – otherwise the paint wouldn’t stick to the woodstain that was there.

The floor was painted with Ronseal Diamond hard floor paint in white. No primer needed – just 3 coats and a light sand down before the final coat. I used a small foam roller to paint the floor  which was actually the quickest and easiest bit of the painting. We used yet more decorators caulk to fill gaps in the floor and roof too.

Don’t underestimate how hard it is to paint tongue and groove wood. It’s a nightmare to get in between all the joints and you definitely need a small brush. It is probably one of the worst things I’ve painted so it took a good few evenings and tantrums to get it all finished,  but the end result was worth it!

I had the whole makeover complete in 5 days  – not full days but fitting it in after work and some late nights too! 

Lisa’s Top Tip: Make sure you do all your filling and caulking  before the final coat of paint.

The Prettifying

The only thing that got me through the painting hell was the prospect of styling the interior – the best part of any DIY project right?

I went for a monochrome colour scheme – black, white, cream and beige – with pops of green from the faux plants to blend with the surroundings of the country garden. I chose faux plants for ease of maintenance.

For me styling is all about adding different textures. I’ve used concrete, wood, rattan, metal, cotton, flatweave and tassel. I find that a blend of textures helps to add depth and different patterns create interest.

When styling I always look for an ‘anchor’ in a room – a focal point. Sometimes you need a couple of anchors. The large ornate mirror is my  ‘anchor’ and my favourite part of the styling in this room. The fact I found it at the local tip and upcycled it with a lick of paint makes it even more special!  I just love the reflection of the green garden and the light it bounces back.

I used the large faux bamboo plant as an anchor too as it adds height. Adding different heights is another styling trick I like to use.

The 2 wall  uplighters were already installed, so I  painted them white and changed the bulbs from warm white to daylight colour for a whiter light. I added a string of bulbs on a black cable for some mood lighting at night and the woven ceiling light was an Ikea bargain.

The rope table lamp also adds a cosy glow. I’ll probably add a few lanterns and candles for summer evenings chilling with a gin or glass of prosecco.

Shop Lisa’s Look  

Large faux Bamboo plant – £19.99 Home Bargains
Black SVALA  planter – JYSK £20  (set of 2)
Faux Cactus – £70 Gallery home (Matalan have one similar but smaller)
Throws x 2 – £10 each Matalan
Rope Table Lamp £20.99  – The Range
Concrete side table – Jysk
Black  YPPERLIG metal side table – £35 Ikea
Corner Sofa Set – previously  purchased from e-bay
String of lights £9.99 – Lidl
Industriell Pendant Lamp £25 – Ikea
Calm sign – £5 Next sale
Cushions – Ikea and TK Maxx
Mirror – Free from the local Tip and upcycled with white paint
LAPPL flatwoven rug £22 -Ikea
Macrame faux hanging planters – small one Matalan £3 (Sale), large one £8 Primark
Prosecco street doormat £5 – NEXT SALE
A2 Andy Warhol – All is Pretty Print £20 – Khushi Designs

The Product

Lisa had originally planned to replace this summerhouse in the next year or two, with the make-over providing just a temporary fix. Now it’s as good as new and styled to perfection, she has no such plans and is completely in love with the new space.

I think you’ll agree that what Lisa has achieved with this DIY project is something quite breath-taking. She now has a beautiful, tranquil space with garden views to relax and unwind, whatever the season. It just goes to show what you can do with a little bit of inspiration and a few days of good old fashioned graft!


 So before you dig into your pockets, take a leaf out of Lisa’s book and consider the art of reinventing, rather than completely replacing. Feeling inspired? Yes, us too.

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