July 30, 2014 7:00 am , 2 Comments , Anna

We’re kind of wishing we’d started our downstairs renovation earlier, because the new layout and especially the new French doors have made such a difference to the light in the kitchen/dining area.

It would have been glorious in this beautiful weather to enjoy our evening meals with the wide double doors thrown open and the sun streaming in.

Instead, we’re having to make do with spending a few minutes standing and admiring the changes over a cool evening drink before resorting to eating upstairs with plates on our laps.

Want a sneaky peek of progress so far? Promise you’ll ignore the dirty, patchy walls and holes in the floor and ceiling? OK.

This is the view from the living room. Remember we’ve created a separate lounge where before we had a through lounge/dining room and separate kitchen? The idea is that the new double doors from the lounge line up with the exterior ones in the dining area which we hope will pull light into the whole of the downstairs and let us see the garden from the living room.

We’ve been working on the downstairs for two months, and my husband assures me we are now just two or three weeks away from being able to get the plasterer in, which means soon after that we can start putting our new kitchen together and stop living upstairs. It’s been fine, most of the time, but is starting to feel pretty claustrophobic, especially after weeks of warm weather.

There’s a – ahem – slight problem with the doors at the moment in that they open out onto a five foot drop. Our whole plot slopes from front to back, and from side to side, which is going to make next year – the year of fixing the outside – interesting.

Still, we’ve got some exciting plans and are really looking forward to getting stuck in (albeit after a bit of a break after doing this little lot). I think the new back doors will make a huge difference to the way we can live in the house and encourage us to use the outside as extra living space routinely. If money was no object and we had a wider opening where the old double glazed window was I’d have liked to put bifolding doors in. I know, I have shared my love for doors like this before.

I realise not everyone’s house will be undergoing as drastic change as ours is, swapping a window for doors. But there are some small changes you can make so your home feels sunnier and more summer ready.

1. Have your windows cleaned. I finally persuaded my husband to let me get the local window cleaner in – he’s a do it yourself way or no way kind of guy – and it’s made such a difference. I dread to think how many years it’s been since they were last cleaned. Decades, possibly. All this sun shows up every mark and speck of dirt, but clean glass makes a room instantly brighter.

2. Pick some fresh flowers. I’m always amazed by the beautiful things some of my favourite bloggers (like Jen, whose blooms are below) have growing in their garden. If, like me, your garden is a pit of weeds – albeit a promising one – fake it by picking up a rustic bunch from your local florist. If you have plants, make sure they aren’t too exposed to sunlight and keep them well watered.

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3. Spruce up the outside. Tidy the garage and shed so the table, chairs and barbecue are easy to get to. Sweep and clean up the decking or patio, touch up paint where you need to and maybe make some new upholstery for your outdoor furniture. I’m a bit obsessed with this tropical print fabric for my future outside benches. Do I order it even though making the bench cushions is a good year away?

4. Swap out winter clothes. If you haven’t already, move thick winter coats, woolly jumpers and big boots out of your wardrobe and move in your summer dresses. Need a wardrobe clear out? Read my top tips.

Have you done anything differently at home because of the warm, sunny weather we’re being blessed with?

*written in collaboration with Express Bifolding Doors but content all my own and honest