Category Archives: Do it Yourself

Soft Furnishing Hot Tips

Embellishing Soft Furnishings

Trimmings can completely change the look and personality of soft furnishings such as simple table cloths, napkins and fine muslin curtains. They need not be expensive and many can be created using everyday things from around the home. Search cabinets and drawers for balls of string and lengths of twine; make use of shells and pebbles; take a fresh look at a skein of raffia: it could look marvellous tied into a tassel to hold a napkin. Where possible, use natural materials, such as cotton, linen, silk and hessian (burlap); they have a wonderful tactile quality and look good in any situation.

The simplicity of the plain muslin cheesecloth curtain and bamboo poles has been complemented by the natural tassel. The effect is understated yet very eye-catching. Have fun with a classic white linen tablecloth by adding seashells, pretty stones and sticks, tied with natural string, to its edges.

The corners and edges of throws and cushions (pillows) are good places for embellishments, especially when the covering fabric is plain. These details maintain and enhance the style of the cushions, particularly if they are made from natural materials in a range of neutral colours. Make detailed decorations with traditional sewing and embroidery techniques, too, but interpret them in contemporary materials. The result is fully in keeping with today’s fashion for interior-design schemes based on natural materials.

Ribbons and Tassels

Ribbons come in a wonderful variety of colours, textures and widths. By tying a simple loop or how, you can give a new contrasting or complementary accent to soft furnishings. Soft, floppy, translucent organza ribbons create a frothy cloud when gathered in folds and bows, but look simple and elegant hung against the light of a window, where they lend an element of privacy and shield the eye from an unwelcome view without blocking the light at all. Rich silken and velvety ribbons, or rough linen and burlap, have completely different qualities.

Tassels, too, are flourishes: they bring a jaunty, nonchalant air to whatever they embellish. They come in a wide variety of materials and colours. The simplest can be homemade from household materials such as string, which is perfectly in keeping with decorated old terracotta pots. Made from natural materials, they bring a touch of style to design schemes based on neutral colours and natural fabrics; in rich colours and silken threads they can be opulent or restrained, depending on how they are combined. Rich red combined with a natural linen table napkin is a sunburst of bright colour that brightens but doesn’t disrupt the neutral scheme. A traditional white tassel combined with a brick-red throw quilted in a simple, modem style is a graphic and modern interpretation of a classic upholstery trimming.

Instant Embellishments

You can use just about any material that catches your eye for trimmings. Although notions and interiors shops were always the traditional suppliers of trimmings such as tassels and ribbons.

Look beyond the expected sources for rich pickings. From garden centers to boating supply stores, the only rule in using materials for trimmings is to collect what appeals to you and let your imagination take over.

Sesame Seed Bread


107g11/2 tsp active dry yeast

300ml/1/2 pint/11/4 cups lukewarm water

200g/7 oz1 13/4cups plain (all-purpose) flour

200g/7oz/1-3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

10m1/2 tsp salt

70g/21/2 oz/5 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Milk, for glazing

30ml/2 tbsp sesame seeds, for sprinkling

1 Combine the yeast and 75 m1/5 tbsp of the water and then leave to dissolve. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water.

4 Grease a 23cm/9 in cake tin (pan). Punch down the dough and knead in the sesame seeds. Divide the dough into 16 halls and place in the tin. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap)and leave in a warm place until risen above the rim of the tin.

5 Preheat a 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 oven. Brush the loaf with milk and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 15minutes. Lower the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and bake until the bottom sounds hollow when rapped, about 30minutes more.

Cool on a wire rack.

How to Dress a Bed

If your budget were unlimited, you could change your bed linen to suit your mood, the way we change our clothes. What a luxury to slide between luxurious silk sheets one night and crisp white cotton the next, followed by country florals, fleecy tartans, faded stripes and fresh, bright ginghams on each succeeding day. However, practicality rules, and generally we dress our beds to match the room decor and can sometimes end up with the same designs for years on end.
Layering many different prints and textures is a style of bed dressing that is popular and it is both sophisticated and relaxed. The different fabrics can be combined successfully despite, or perhaps because of, their diversity. Frilled prairie prints can be teamed with cotton lace. Cosy tartans and faded patchworks create an attractive and comfortable style.
Use bed linen to set a mood or create an atmosphere. If you want the room to look light and airy, go for white cotton sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers. Dress up the look with hand-crocheted lace borders and cushion covers, mixing old and new together. Or, for a touch of country freshness, add a gingham or floral bedcover or a patchwork quilt, or for something more Victorian, use a satin eiderdown. A mixture of plain sheets, duvet cover and pillow cases in different colours creates a modernist style that looks stunning with a black-framed bed.
You can also choose from the huge array of imported textiles now on the market. Layer and drape hot-coloured silks, batiks, ikats and hand-blocked prints to re-create the atmosphere of another continent. Cover pillows with silk scarves and drape saris from a four-poster, then dye your sheets strong earthy yellows, red and browns for a rich layered look.
It is important to consider the feel of fabrics as well as the look. There is nothing to compare with the luxury of Egyptian cotton sheeting, especially after years of laundering, so never say no to hand-me-down pure cottons —even though they need ironing, unlike mixed poly-cotton sheets.
Woollen blankets are wonderfully warm, but very itchy against the skin, so turn back a wide border of top sheet to cover the blanket.
Velvet bed throws feel very luxurious and can be made from old velvet curtains. Edge and join panels with a rich-coloured velvet braid for a medieval look.
If you have a four-poster bed, drape it with anything from chintz curtains to strings of heads, or perhaps floaty layers of net and muslin. But, you don’t need a four-poster to have drapes, and there are all sorts of ways in which fabric can be gathered or hung to give a variety of different effects.
This stylish Japanese-inspired bed uses wooden pallets for the bed base and a cream decorator’s dustsheet for the cotton bedcover wooden box that is wall-mounted the bed, with the fabric hung from the inside in two sections, to drape on either side of the bed. The effect can be solid and grand, or light and romantic, depending on the fabrics used. Alternatively, fit a simple semi-circular shelf to the wall the bed from which to drape a length of muslin. A staple gun is the ideal tool for this type of draping because it allows you to pleat the fabric as you attach it to the shelf. Another advantage is that it is very quick — you can drape a bed in this way in just an hour or two.
A mosquito net is a ready-made bed drape that simply needs a ceiling hook for installation. For a fun look, evoke the African savannah by adding a few potted palms and fake animal-print rugs, or create an air of mystery with a deep colour on the walls to highlight the light drifts of net.
The most important thing to remember when draping a bed is that you will always need more fabric than you imagine. The success of the draped effect relies upon a generous amount of fabric to spill out on to the floor around the bed to add to the sense of luxurious splendour.

Basic tools

The three most invaluable tools for dressing beds are a cordless (hand-held) electric drill; a glue gun and a staple gun. Staples are used for most upholstery work these days and a medium-sized staple gun is ideal for drapes, pleats and upholstery. A cordless drill allows you the freedom of dashing up and down ladders and drilling in awkward places where there is no plug socket available. If you have never used a glue gun before, you will be delighted — they can be used for gluing almost any two surfaces together and provide an instant bond that makes life a lot easier.


Beds without headboards create a very utilitarian and temporary impression. A headboard can make the simplest of beds into an item of furniture with definite style, and the possibilities really are endless.
Revamp existing headboards to give a totally different character using paint, rope, upholstery, drapes or fabric wraps. An old padded headboard, for instance, may be very comfortable but quite unpleasant to look at. All you need is a length of fabric and a staple gun to give it a completely new appearance, such as the padded headboard made from chintz curtains; leopard-skin-printed velvet; a rich chocolate-brocaded stain; a woven Mexican striped blanket or a black and white hounds-tooth check all have strong designs to give instant attitude to a padded headboard.
You may prefer something a little more subtle. Rub down a new turned-pine bedhead with sandpaper, and then paint it with two coats of matt paint. The first should be a bright colour and the second a lot darker. When the paint has dried, rub it back with fine-grade sandpaper or wire (steel) wool to reveal flashes of the brighter colour beneath. Paint initials or a marriage date along the top rail to transform a mass-produced bed into a family heirloom.

How to Choose Mulch

A mulch is a layer of protective material placed over soil. It assists in retaining moisture, conserving warmth, and preventing soil splash on foliage and flowers. There are a variety of mulches to choose from, principally:

Clay Granules

Clay granules are widely used for hydro-culture, but can also be used to mulch houseplants. When placing a plant in a cachepot, fill all around the pot with granules. When watered, the granules absorb moisture, which is then released slowly to create a moist micro-climate for the plant.

Pricking Out

When seedlings have grown to a manageable size, prick them out using tweezers, taking care to avoid root damage. Some seedlings will be uniform in size, if not, sort by size into individual pots for the larger ones, in rows in a seed tray for the smaller ones.


Gravel makes a decorative mulch for container plants and also provides the correct environment for plants such as Alpines. It is available in a variety of sizes and colors which can be matched to the scale and colours of the plants used.

Saucers and Feet

Saucers act as water reservoirs for the plants, and are used under house plants to protect the surface they are standing on. Clay saucers must be fully glazed if they are used indoors or they will leave marks. Plastic saucers can be used to line containers which are not waterproof, such as this wooden apple basket. Clay feet are available for terracotta pots.


Smooth stones can be used as decorative mulch for large container-grown plants. You can save stones dug out of the garden or buy stones from garden centers. Cat owners will also find they keep cats from using the soil surrounding large house plants as a litter tray.

Plant Supports

Climbing plants need support even in containers. Support can be provided by-using canes which can be pushed into the pot, or a trellis which is fastened to a wall or a free standing frame.

Ideas on How to Set Up Contract for Home Improvement

It is likely that you will want to have some professional help for many home improvement projects. The experts can help you solve design problems, make sure you satisfy the requirements of the building regulations and stop you falling foul of your local government planning committee. They can also organize and manage large scale projects in a way that no home owner with a frill-rime jog could hope to do. Which experts you call in and what you get them to do for you depends on the project concerned.

You are most likely to call on the services of an architect or a building surveyor if you are building a home extension, converting a loft (attic) or carrying out major internal alterations to your house. Apart from that, many jobs around the home, such as replacing tiles on the roof, can be done safely and thoroughly by the home owner. If major repairs or renovation work is needed however, it is always worth obtaining a quote train a contractor before starting the project yourself.

While waiting for government approval, get renders(bids) for the work from contractors, prepare contracts, devise work schedules and supervise work on site. Architects and surveyors will usually charge a percentage of the project cost as their fee.

If you are planning a loft (attic) conversion, a conservatory, replacement windows, or a kitchen or bathroom refit, you can call in firms who specialize in each of these areas. Since each may offer a complete package, from computer aided design to completion, they may be very tempting to employ. However, this area is very much one of ‘buyer beware’. If you decide to use this route, try to find a firm that either comes with a personal recommendation or is prepared to put you in touch with several satisfied customers. Read the contract offered by the firm in detail, querying any unclear terms and, above all, do not part with any money in advance.

Calling in professional help with your home improvements raises a few questions, since you are effectively handing over the work to a third party. You need to keep control over the job to ensure you get the results you want. If you need contractors to carry out the work for you, decide first of all whether you want a main contractor to run the entire project and bring in his or her own specialist subcontractors, rooters, plasterers, plumbers, electricians and so on, for individual parts of the job.

The alternative is to employ those sub-contractors yourself for the parts of the job that are beyond your abilities. As always, the best way of finding contractors and subcontractors is by personal recommendation. If you are employing an architect on your project, he or she may be able to recommend firms in your area.

Other ways of finding contractors include local newspaper advertisements, telephone directories and trade associations, which will send lists of their members working in your area. One last method involves looking round your area for houses where projects similar to yours are being carried out. Knock at the door and ask the owner how the work is going; people cannot resist discussing things if they are going well.

What a home improvement project will cost is of prime importance to every householder. If you are doing the job yourself, make contact with all the relevant local trade suppliers builders and other specialist merchants, plus second hand outlets such as salvage yards, and explain to them what you are doing and what your requirements are. Some projects will be easier to price than others, but suppliers will generally be eager to help you estimate costs if there is an order in it for them.

Don’t forget about hire (rental) shops for the equipment not included in your do-it-yourself toolkit. It is also worth hiring (or even better, buying) heavy duty versions of your existing power tools, which are likely to be burnt out by the sort of use they will get on a major improvement project. If you are employing an architect, he or she will be responsible for obtaining costs for the job. If you are putting the entire job in the hands of builders, they will be responsible for pricing the job and for buying all the materials.

Never employ any contractors on a home-improvement project without a contract, however simple. This will give both parties a clear description of what the job involves and who is responsible for what. Above all, it will give each party the protection of the law if the other breaks its terms. A simple job probably needs no more than a letter of agreement. This should include a description of the work to be done, the price, the agreed starting and finishing dates and details of how payments will be made. On more complex jobs, a contractor’s derailed quotation plus your signature will constitute a valid contract. A builder will save you the trouble of hiring specialist equipment unlikely to be found in many a home owner’s toolkit.

How to Make Roman Blinds

Blinds are becoming a very popular alternative window dressing to a pair of curtains (drapes). The styles of blind described here, although made using very similar techniques, create very different effects. Choose the softly ruched Austrian blind for a pretty, feminine window treatment and the smartly pleated Roman blind for a room with a modern decor.

Use a light or medium weight fabric to make an Austrian blind, anything from lightweight voile or sheer to standard cotton curtain fabric will be suitable. Avoid heavy brocades and hand woven cottons, as these are too thick to drape well. You will need a special type of track to hang and mount the blind; this is known as Austrian blind track, and is widely available.

A Roman blind, on the other hand, will benefit from being made in a reasonably substantial fabric. You can line this type of blind if you wish, to add body to the pleats and also to retain the warmth of a room. You need a batten (furring strip) and angle irons to mount the blind. Use strips of touch and close fastener to hold the blind in place on the batten. An Austrian blinds are mounted in much the same way, with the cords threaded through rings attached to the track.


  1. Cut out the fabric. Turn, pin and stitch double 12 mm or 1/2 in side hems. Turn, pin and then machine stitch a double 2.5 cm/1 in hens along the top of the fabric. Press all the hems.
  2. Pin and stitch a strip of Roman blind tape close to the side edge, turning under 9 cm at the top. Stitch another strip along the remaining edge, then attach further strips at intervals across the blind, 25-30 cm/10-12 in apart.
  3. At the bottom of the blind, turn over 9mm or 1/8 in and press, then turn over a further 5 cm/2 in to enclose the ends of the tape. Pin and stitch the hem close to the inner fold, leaving the sides open.
  4. Stitch narrow tucks across the width of the blind to correspond with alternate rows of loops or rings on the tape. Make the first tuck level with the second row of loops or rings from the bottom of the blind. To make the tucks, fold the fabric with the wrong sides facing, and stitch 3mm or 1/8 in from the fold.


Roman Blind

To calculate the length, measure the window drop, add 14 cm/ 4I/2 in for hem allowances and a little extra for the horizontal tucks. For the width, measure the window and add 6 cm/ 2 in for side hems. You will need sufficient strips of Roman blind strip to position at 25-30 cm/10-12 in intervals across the width of the blind. Each strip should be the length of the Hind plus 12/1/2 in; make sure there is a loop or ring12 mm/1/2 in up from the bottom of each strip so that they will match across the blind.

Attach the blind to the top of the batten with strips of touch and close fastener. Cut each length of cord to twice the length of the Hind plus the distance of the right-hand edge. Thread each cord through the loops in the tape. Knot each length securely on the bottom loop and thread the other end through the corresponding screw eyes on the batten, ending with all the cord ends on the right hand side of the blind. Knot the cords at the top, cut the ends off level and knot them again.

Creating More Space in Your Home

If a home does not function well, there are three choices. Two of these are thoroughly defeatist and may also be impractical: learn to live with it, or move to a more suitable house. The third is much more positive; alter it so that it gives the extra living space and the additional features needed. The average home is basically a box, within which internal partitions create individual rooms; doors allow movement and windows let in light and air. Various services are included within the structure – heating, plumbing, wiring and so on. All these features can be altered, within reason, to make them work better.

When planning alterations, there are two considerations which should constantly be borne in mind: are the changes feasible and are they legal? It is essential to check with the local planning (coning) and building control bodies to find out whether the work requires official approval.

Where to Improve

Alterations to the use of space in the home are of two kinds. The first is intended to create an entirely new living space. The second is to alter the present layout of the interior and to change or improve the services. These are some of the possibilities:

In the attic, unused space beneath a pitched root could well become valuable extra living space. Remember, though, that providing access to the new rooms will mean losing some space on the floor below.

In the existing upstairs rooms, re-arranging internal walls could create an extra bedroom or bathroom, while providing plumbing facilities in bedrooms could ease the pressure on the existing bathrooms.

Downstairs, removing dividing walls to create walk to create large through rooms or partitioning large rooms to create two smaller ones, moving doorways to improve traffic flow, or altering the kitchen layout could all be considered. It might even he possible to turn an integral garage into extra living space.

Converting an Attic

A full-scale conversion into one or more habitable rooms that is, bedrooms and the like rather than just a hobby space is one of the biggest and most complex indoor home improvement projects. It involves altering the room structure to make space for the rooms.

You can strengthen the existing attic will provide access from the floor below, installing roof windows and extending existing services to the new moats. Professional advice is needed here, and it is advisable to hand over the main structural alterations to a builder or specialist conversion firm. This still leaves plenty of room for do-it-yourself finishing and faring of the new rooms.

In many older homes, the space beneath a pitched (sloping) roof can be used to provide valuable extra Wing space, often with spectacular results. Reorganization can bring dramatic improvements to the way the house works.

Creating a Through Room

Creating a through room means removing an existing dividing wall, and may also require the repositioning of existing doorways and the formation of new windows. If the existing wall is load bearing, a steel beam will have to be installed to carry the load, and lintels will also be needed over new windows and over new doors in other load bearing walls. It may be necessary to reroute existing plumbing and electrical services that cross the wall that is to be removed. Once the new opening has been formed, there will be extensive upholstering, to be done, and the floors in the two rooms will have to be linked smoothly. The original color schemes of the two rooms will also probably be different, which may entail complete redecoration.

Partitioning an Existing Room

Subdividing an existing room into two smaller ones means building a new wall, possibly adding a door or window to one of the new rooms, and perhaps altering, or extending existing, plumbing, heating and electrical services to serve the separate rooms.

The new dividing wall will generally be built as a timber-framed partition wall faced with plasterboard (gypsum board), but a solid block cork wall could be built on suitable foundations, which may well need to be inserted.

Creating a New Door Opening

If the new opening is to be made in a load bearing wall, a lintel must be used to bridge the opening. However, if the wall is a non-load bearing partition, simple alterations to the wall framing are all that will be needed. The job will also involve some replastering work, snaking alterations to skirtings (baseboards) and floor surfaces, the fitting of architraves (trims) around the opening, and possibly alterations to existing plumbing, heating and electrical services if pipes or cables crux; the area where the new door will be installed.

Altering the Kitchen Layout

The amount of work depends on how extensive the rearrangement will be. At the very least there will be new base and wall units (cabinets) and countertops, and these will probably involve some work on wall and floor surfaces. If repositioning sinks, cookers (stoves), dishwashers and the like, there will have to be alterations to plumbing and electrical services.

Fabric Repair Holes

Clothes and soft furnishings such as linen, cushions and the fabric on chairs will need some repair work when an area becomes worn or gives way due to constant wear or an accidental tear. Preventive strengthening measures can be taken in certain instances, such as decorative patches on seat cushions or the arms of padded chairs, and elbows and knees on clothes. Other embellished items, such as cushions and table cloths, can also be reinforced with interfacing on the wrong side before sewing on decorative elements, such as buttons and tassels, to further strengthen the fabric.

Once an area of fabric, whether clothing or soft furnishing, has become worn or frayed, the techniques for darning and repairing are not difficult to learn and are well worth the effort if it saves you from having to replace a much-loved family item.

Darning by Hand

  1. Choose a thread for darning that matches the fabric colour as closely as possible. Use one that is slightly thinner than the fabric threads, otherwise the darning will be too thick, and work with a long length.
  2. Work small running stitches back and forth across the fabric within the marked area. Leave a slight loop at the end of each row so that the darn doesn’t become too tight. At the worn area, leave the thread lying parallel across the hole and work running stitches on each side.
  3. Turn the work so that the laid threads are horizontal. Begin to weave over and under the stitches and threads until the entire area is covered with a woven parch. Avoid pulling the threads tight.
  4. Bring the edges of the rear together by loosely overseeing them. Work tiny stitches across the rear, from the beginning and ending 6mm /1/4in beyond each end of the rear.
  5. On a worn garment or pocket tear, iron a square of iron-on interfacing, to the wrong side before working the stitches. Pin the pocket hack in position and restitch over the repair.
  6. A button can be fixed by replacing over a right-angled rear once it has been repaired with interfacing and machine stitching on the fabric to leave the work overcast in over the raw edge, and in the front side as well.

Hand Patch

  1. This type of patch is normally used to repair garments but will come in handy with bed linen, curtains and cushions. To make the patch less obvious, cut the fabric to match the colour and pattern of the worn area as closely as possible.
  2. Cut a patch about 3-4cm / 4-11cm / 2in larger than the worn area. Baste the patch 6mm / 4in throughout the raw edge and notch any curves. Turn under and haste the raw edge. Work small, neat hemming stitches to secure.

Machine Patch

  1. This quick and easy patch is a hard-wearing way of repairing most utility items around the home. Use fabric from furniture or fabric, then use a darning foot on the machine and stitch with finer fibre such as machine embroidery thread, in a colour to match the fabric.
  2. Cut a square or rectangular patch about 2 .3cm / ¾in larger than the worn area and bastes in position on the right side, matching the grain of the fabric.

Darning by Machine

  1. Machine darning is suitable for strengthening worn areas such as the knees of trousers, but can be rather solid if used to fill a hole on a piece of another similar item, if possible, or prewash a new piece of fabric to soften it. Stitch with a matching thread.
  2. Turn the garment over and trim the worn areas of the patch to 1cm. The finished patch will have two rows of zigzag showing on the right side.
  3. Leave a 5mm allowance. Work overcastting or buttonhole stitches over the raw edges without stitching into the front side of the patch.
  4. Baste a circle of running stitches around the outside of the worn area. If possible, fit the fabric into an embroidery hoop so that it lies flat against the needle plate. Lower the darning foot and work parallel rows of stitching fairly close together hack and forth across the marked area.
  5. Stop with the needle in the fabric and turn the hoop until the stitches lie across the other way. Stitch more parallel rows slightly further apart to form a stitched grid over the marked area. If filling a hole, turn, the hoop back ground and work a third set of parallel rows across the hole.

Flower Bathroom Decor

  1. Collect together the materials you will need: a glass-covered dish; florist’s adhesive clay; scissors; a plastic prong; a cylinder of dry stem holding foam; a knife; a selection of dried flowers such as helichrysum; statice; lady’s mantle; cornflowers and rosebuds; and florist’s scissors.
  2. Press a small strip of adhesive clay to the base of the plastic prong and press it on to the centre of the base. Cut the foam to the size and shape required and press it on to the prong. Arrange a ring of white statice around the base, positioning the stems horizontally in the foam. Make a dome shape with yellow rosebuds. Put on the glass cover to check that the stems are not too tall to fit inside then remove the cover again. If the stems are too long then carefully extract them from the foam and trim the ends as necessary, using the florist’s scissors. Replace the stems as before.
  3. Arrange short stems of blue and yellow to stand between the rosebuds and, to soften the effect, add some short sprays of helichrysum and lady’s mantle.
  4. Position cornflowers evenly throughout the design. Turn the base around slowly and check that it is equally well covered and attractive from every angle.
  5. Once the cover is in place, the dried flowers will be well protected from any steam. To make a complete seal, press a narrow strip of modeling clay such as Plasticine all around the rim of the base and scatter a few highly absorbent silica-gel crystals among the dried flowers. These crystals, which are available from some chemists (drugstores), florist’s shops and camera retailers, are very effective in drawing away any moisture from the surrounding air. Press the cover on to the clay to complete the seal.


You need not confine this type of flower decoration to a bathroom. The frequently changing and sometimes steamy environment of a kitchen would be another area in which a covered arrangement would be ideal, or perhaps on a dresser or in the centre of the table. The glass cover will not only shield the flowers from changes in temperature, but will also provide excellent protection from dust and dirt. Many kinds of dried flowers are suitable for display in this way, although small flower heads look the most effective.

How to Build a Pergola

A sense of height is important even in a small garden. Small trees, wall shrubs and climbers can provide the necessary verticals, but if these are in short supply an arch or pergola may be the answer. Alternatively, if a pergola or arch seems inappropriate, similar construction techniques can be used to create a welcoming, intimate arbour.
Traditionally, and especially in cottage gardens, pergolas and arches have been made from rustic poles, but where they adjoin the house or link the home with patio, timber is better.
Their visual effect is to take the eye to further down the garden and rustic arches and pergolas look particularly attractive covered with roses or other climbers. You can be creative with the designs, but the same few basic joints shown here are all that you will need.


  1. To fix horizontal poles to vertical ones, saw a notch of a suitable size for the horizontal piece to fit snugly.
  2. If you have to join two horizontal pieces, saw two opposing and matching notches so that one sits over the other, and secure them.
  3. To fix cross-pieces to horizontals or uprights, remove a V-shaped notch using a chisel if necessary to achieve a snug fit, then nail into place with rust-proof nails.
  4. Use halving joints where two pieces cross. Make two saw cuts half way through the pole, then remove the waste timber with a chisel. Secure the joint with a nail. For extra strength, paint the joint with woodworking adhesive first.
  5. Bird’s mouth joints are useful for connecting horizontal or diagonal pieces to uprights. Cut out a V-shaped notch about 3 cm/1 in deep, and saw the other piece to match. Use a chisel to achieve a good fit.
  6. Try out the assembly on the ground, then insert the uprights in prepared holes and make sure these are secure before adding any horizontal or top pieces. Most pieces can be nailed together, but screw any sections subject to stress.