Exterior design


The summer season is knocking at the door and after a wet winter, which made us spend longer hours indoors than we would have liked, we cannot wait to head outside and spend more time in the garden. If you have a garden or a terrace, you will already be envisioning yourself enjoying an al fresco aperitif with your family, or spending long hours outside catching up with friends and enjoying the good weather. So, don’t waste a second, it’s time to get to work! And at ManoMano we would like to offer you different decoration suggestions and ideas for creating an outdoor living space you’ll love.

Outdoor living space design ideas
Outdoor living space design ideas

Before you get started with the design of your outdoor area, you need to carefully study the space and choose the furniture to suit its specific dimensions. To get the most of it, ideally you would include a dining area as well as a relaxation area, or bring the two together if necessary.

Here are our top 5 tips on outdoor living space design:

  1. If your outdoor space is large, the ideal option is to include a dining table and chair set for at least six people, as well as comfortable sofas or armchairs to enjoy a nice evening. If the space is on the smaller side, you can always opt for an extendable table and folding chairs, which won’t take up a lot of space, but can allow you to host a few guests. A parasol or pergola can be a great way to create a shaded area. They can both protect us from the sun in the day time, as well as from the cold when evenings get chilly.
  1. A chill-out area, essential. They are ideal in the porch, the area near the pool, or a corner in the garden. Rattan armchairs, natural wood sofas or deck chairs will create a space for relaxation. If you have a small terrace, you can opt for fringed canvas hammocks, which can easily be put up and taken down. Another option is to put a hanging chair in a corner of the terrace.  They take up no space and provide your outdoor area with a summery and boho look.
Natural furniture adds a sense of calm to your outdoor living space
Natural furniture adds a sense of calm to your outdoor living space (C) Edvin Johannson
  1. Side and coffee tables, the perfect complement. Whether they are in your chill-out area surrounded by sofas and armchairs or next to your loungers, they are as aesthetic as they are practical when you want to serve an aperitif and enjoy those magical sunsets typical of the summer season. They are also quite useful in your gazebo or dining area, to leave extra drinks, glasses or dishes.
  1. Good lighting, essential. Lighting is a great way to set the ambiance, but in order to achieve this, you have to carefully study the location of the lights and the effect you want them to have. Size, distribution, design and intensity are key factors to consider when choosing the lighting for your outdoor area. It is therefore essential to distinguish between lights whose function it is to illuminate and mood lighting. Both are absolutely essential if you want to create a cosy and stylish area. While you can use wall lights or lamps hanging from the gazebo to provide enough light at night, indirect lights will create a magical atmosphere around you: fairy lights, spotlights with indirect lighting in strategic corners of the garden, or solar floor lamps can be your allies when decorating your outdoor area. 
Lighting is great for outdoor ambiance (C) Hannah Busing
Lighting is great for outdoor ambiance (C) Hannah Busing
  1. Small details you will fall in love with. Once you have the basic furniture in place, it’s time to fill your garden with small details that will provide both originality and style. We recommend that you opt for a natural tone palette and light textiles such as cotton or linen, with smooth textures and vibrant patterns reminiscent of the sea. Big candles for the table and lanterns on the floor, light blankets for chilly nights, and natural fibre ottomans, and last but not least, bamboo or jute rugs to frame and delimit the different areas.  

1. Festoon fairy lights 2. Hanging hammock 3. Jute rug 4. Retractable pergola

With the help of these handy tips, you will create a fantastic outdoor area in which to enjoy unique moments this summer. 

Are you designing your own outdoor living space? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Article written by Paula Silvagni

Passionate about interior design, Paula is a deco-coach and Instagrammer (@paula_silvagni_interiors). From her Instagram page, she shows the latest trends to decorate every corner of your home with style.

DIY insect hotels: what are they and why make one?

When you put an insect hotel in your garden, you are actively welcoming these beautiful little creatures which are extremely beneficial for the wellbeing of all your garden plants. This DIY insect hotel, also known as a bug hotel or house, is very much in demand at the moment. But do you know why? Are you wondering whether it is indeed as useful they say?

In this blog post, we will tell you about different types of insects, the role that they play in our gardens, and how to build your own insect hotel.

Insects are extremely important and useful in the garden. Each one of them plays their own vital role in keeping the garden beautiful and healthy. They are a natural pesticide, which is why they are called “the garden’s little helpers”. Ladybirds, for instance, will take care of aphid pests on rose bushes, while bees will pollinate the garden plants. The insect hotel will provide shelter for all your little garden helpers, and at the same time, it can be turned into an excellent tool for play learning with kids.

In the photo below you can see the wide range of insects that can find shelter in this bug hotel.

Many bugs can find refuge in a DIY insect hotel
Many bugs can find refuge in a DIY insect hotel

Tools and materials

Tools for a DIY insect hotel
Tools for a DIY insect hotel

Cost, time and difficulty

You only need around £30 worth of wood for this particular DIY insect hotel. If you already have all the materials, the cost of building this insect hotel will not be more than £40.

It takes about half a day to build the bug hotel structure itself, and another half day to kit it out and finish it.

DIY Insect Hotel: Building stages

1. Prepare the planks of wood

You can use 4 planks of wood measuring 15 cm wide, 2 cm thick, and 250 cm long.

Prepare the wood
Prepare the wood

Cut the planks as follows:

  1. 2 planks measuring 100 cm long, 15 cm wide and 2 cm thick. Using a mitre saw or a mitre box, make a cut at a 45º angle on one end of each of the planks. These planks will be the sides of the hotel structure.
  2. 4 planks measuring 60 cm long, 15 cm wide and 2 cm thick. These four planks will be placed horizontally to make up the various “shelves” or “hotel floors”.
  3. 2 planks measuring 72 cm and 70 cm long for the roof.
  4. 3 planks measuring 30 cm long.
  5. 2 planks measuring 25 cm long.
Cutting the planks
Cutting the planks

2. Build the structure

You can now begin to build the structure of the insect hotel! Place the 4 planks measuring 60 cm long horizontally. Place the 2 planks cut at a 45º angle vertically, as you can see in the photo below:

Build the insect hotel structure
Build the insect hotel structure

3. Add the back wall of the DIY insect hotel

All you need to do now is attach the back wall of the bug hotel to the rest of the wooden pieces. You could also use marine grade plywood or pallet pieces. 

Build the back of the bug hotel
Build the back of the bug hotel

4. Where to put your homemade insect hotel

The weight of your DIY insect hotel is now around thirty kilos, so before you finish it, you will have to secure it onto the place where you want to put it. The best spot for an insect hotel is a sunny place, protected from wind and rain.

First, attach legs to the structure. We used thick square pieces of timber measuring 15 cm in height.

You can then place a zinc sheet on the roof to better protect the hotel.

5. Set up the space for your guests

In the last step you will need to set up the space for the hotel guest. To make the space attractive and comfortable for them, you can include some of these:

  • Pine cones
  • Bamboo/reeds
  • Old tiles
  • Straw/hay
  • Logs of wood
And voilà !
And voilà !

Did you enjoy this article on how to make a DIY insect hotel? Perhaps you’d be interested in learning about how to make an outdoor pallet bar or reading about how to maintain a chicken coop!

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags! 

Who wouldn’t want to own a big house with a huge garden, where you can grow flowers, plant herbs and spend relaxing afternoons outdoors? While it’s a beautiful image, life often forces us to settle for a flat in the city with – if we’re lucky – a small balcony far away from nature. And although you likely won’t grow a real vegetable garden on your balcony in the city, that doesn’t mean your green fingers must stay idle. In fact, a small herb garden takes up very little space, especially when you suspend it on a wall to optimise the vertical space at your disposal. And the best part of it all? Upcycling tin cans to make your gardening dreams come true!

herb garden

What you’ll need:


1 – Tin cans

Step 1: Collect your cans

Many of us buy canned goods without giving it a second thought. Instead of recycling them, you can upcycle tin cans for DIY projects like this one. Any tin is suitable for this project as long as it offers sufficient space for small plants such as herbs.

upcycle tin cans

Step 2: Drill and sandpaper

Before getting started, we recommend sanding the top edges of the tin cans with a piece of sandpaper. As this part can sometimes be jagged and sharp, sanding it first will prevent injury later.

sanding top of the tin can

Next, create a hole at the bottom of the cans. Simply use a screw for this step or make the job easier with a small drill.

putting a hole in tin cans

The hole becomes very important later on in the project.

Step 3: Get painting!

After sanding and drilling, we are are ready for a colourful makeover! We prefer spray paint, which gives you a glossy finish and won’t leave traces from the paintbrush. Depending on the effect you’re going for, you can also use other kinds of paint.

Upcycling tin cans

Basically, all kinds of paint are fine as long as you use one that is water-resistant.

Step 4: Finishing touches

After painting your cans, you can decorate them any way you choose and using a technique you enjoy. We love a finish that is minimal, elegant and rustic at the same time.

wrapping twine around can

The technique above is relatively easy to follow: glue some twine around the bottom of the can using a glue gun or a decent amount of PVA glue.

2 – The wooden shelf

Creating your wooden shelf doesn’t take a lot of work. What’s more, even those with minimal DIY skills can do it!

Step 1: Attach the brackets

We recommend starting the job by attaching small L-shaped brackets directly onto the plywood, placing one in the middle and the other two at the same distance from the edge of the wood.

attach L-shaped brackets on to plywood

Use wood screws for this, but make sure they aren’t too long. For the perfect finish, they shouldn’t poke out on the other side of the wood.

Step 2: Make holes in the wall

At this stage, place your shelf on the wall where you want to position your garden. Next, mark dots that match the holes in the brackets using a pencil. Finally, make the holes with a drill and insert wall anchors that will serve to support the entire structure.

Step 3: Add protection

If you want to protect the shelf from rain, apply a coat of clear, weather-resistant varnish.

Add weather protection to the shelf

This extra layer of protection will keep your creation in good condition by repelling water from the surface, so it won’t soak into the plywood and rot the shelf.

3 – Creating your herb garden

Step 1: Join your cans to the shelf

With everything painted, you can now add the cans to the shelf.

Screw cans to the shelf

Since the garden will be outside and therefore exposed to the weather, we recommend screwing the cans to the shelf. That way, you prevent the risk of wind toppling your cans and ruining the plants inside.

Attach the cans to the wood and screw the shelf into the wall using the anchors you have positioned.

Step 2: Herbs

It’s now time to organise your herbs on their new shelf! Put your favourite herbs in the cans, in whichever order you like best.

To give your herb garden a little something extra, you can add small tags (once again from plywood) where you can display the name of each variety. To do this, we recommend painting the wood cut-outs with black acrylic paint and then sticking lettering decals on them, preferably in white.

creating labels

However, for those of you with a steady hand, why not show off your skills and write the names of the herbs you’ve chosen in chalk? Finally, attach the tags to small wooden clothespins using a glue gun, and then attach them to the designated cans on the shelf.

4 – Sit back and enjoy your garden!

Upcycling tin cans is not just fun: the result looks great and the process is accessible and affordable as well. With this setup, even if you live in the city, you’ll only have to step out onto your balcony and make use of your small herb garden to prepare mouth-watering meals made even more delicious because they are locally sourced.

reuse tin cans

The garden can also be adapted to different spatial requirements. For example, you can make several shelves and position them above one another, make ones in different shapes or shorter ones and turn them into a corner unit.

When it comes to different styles and colour combinations, the possibilities are endless! Now it’s your turn to choose the ones that best suit your home and tastes. Happy DIYing!

Did you like this article on upcycling tin cans? Our indoor herb gardening for beginners guide is a great way to complete your knowledge! Or how about creating a herb garden for cocktails?

If you’re planning a Halloween or bonfire night party in your garden or want to entertain in style over Christmas and New Year, this illuminated outdoor bar is the ideal place to serve your guests. The bar is wall-mounted and can be closed away when not in use. To get the party started, open the drop-down bar, flick on the fairy lights and fill the cabinet with bottles, glasses and your favourite cocktail ingredients.

What you’ll need

To do this DIY project you’ll need the following tools:

Hand saw

Wrecking bar


Palm sander

Drill with drill bits

Holesaw kit


In addition, these materials will be needed:

3 x Identical pallets

Assorted sandpaper to fit your palm sander in course, medium and fine grits

1.5m length of  4mm x 32mm steel chain

Rust-Oleum chalkboard spray paint or brush-on chalkboard paint

1 x Rust-Oleum Metallic copper spray

Solar fairy lights in warm white or amber

2 x Coach bolts


Eye hooks


Cost, time and difficulty

The approximate cost of materials for this project is £35. You can access the shopping cart of some of the tools and materials used through this link. Depending on your DIY skills, this project shouldn’t take longer 5 hours to complete.


Step 1

Use a wrecking bar to carefully remove the planks of wood from all 3 pallets.


Attach 3 of the side supports together to create an L shape and screw together. Repeat with another 3 side supports. These will form the upright corners at the back of the bar.

Step 2

Assemble the back of the bar with the new L-shape supports on the corners. You only need to cover the bottom half of the bar (which will be visible from the inside) so position 5 planks closer together to remove gaps and screw them into the corner supports. Add one plank across the top for structural integrity and add a central support. Leaving the gap on the back gives you access to add the lights later.

Step 3

Turn the back section of the bar over and attach 5 planks at the top of the bar. Again, position the planks close together.

Using a piece of cardboard or paper stapled to the top of the front, mark out the BAR letters and decide where the lights will be. Using a drill bit slightly larger than fairy light bulbs, drill the holes through the cardboard and through the wood on the front of the bar.

Step 4

Measure the distance from the base of the bar to the plank section at the top and cut down 2 side supports to fit this measurement. These will be the supports for the drop-down bar. Lay out the planks close together and add the side supports, positioning them set in from the ends of the planks. This will ensure that the drop-down panel will fit inside the corner supports of the bar.

Step 5

Cut away an angle from the bottom of the corner supports at the front of the bar.

Place the drop-down section in position on the front of the bar and drill from the side through the corner support and the drop-down support. Add a coach bolt through the hole to act as the hinge. Repeat on the other side.

Step 6

Open the drop-down section and clad the top side with the planks. Use a tank cutter to cut holes along the back of the top layer. The holes need to be the size of your beer glasses, bottles or wine glasses, to allow them to sit inside the holes when the bar is finished. With the drop-down section closed, you’ll see a gap on the underside of the bar. Attach an extra support piece to fill the gap. This will create a ‘shelf’ behind the drop-down section when it is open.

Step 7

Sand down all the rough edges and paint the back planks and the hole section on the drop-down with copper spray paint.

Use chalkboard paint (either brush-on or spray paint) to paint the top, front and sides. This will allow you to use chalk to add the words ‘birthday’, ‘cocktail’ or any phrase you like to the top of the BAR sign.

Step 8


When the paint is dry, use an eye hook and carabiner to attach a chain to the inside edge of the corner support. Add another eye hook and carabiner to the front of the drop-down section and clip on the chain. To close the bar, add 2 eye hooks on each side and close with 2 carabiners. Working from the back of the bar, poke the fairy lights through the holes. Turn the bar over and paint a fine line of metallic paint between each fairy light to spell out the word BAR.

As with all our projects, please take care while using tools, materials and equipment.

This article was written by Cassie Fairy. You can find Cassie’s blog ‘My Thrifty Life’ at Cassiefairy.com, where she shares daily blog posts about her home DIY projects, upcycled finds, low-cost recipes and plenty of inspiration for living a lovely life on a budget.


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Here are some Halloween door decorations which will literally throw you off of your hinges! All you need is a door, and some ideas. Oh wait, we’ve got that one covered for you. 😉

Use these terrifyingly brilliant ideas to decorate the outside of your home in order to prepare for visitors this Halloween – and let them know whether they’re in for a trick or a treat…


We love the Tim Burton ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ spin on this design, an ultimate spooky classic! Do you recon your neighbours could handle it?


This monstrosity is sure to be bagging a few frights and giggles.


This design only uses only one sheet of black paper, and is high on the scare scale, easy as pie!


Can you wrap your head around how this one was done? Don’t knock it till you try it.


The key is to make sure that people think they are being watched…


This creepy number is not exactly what we’d call a-door-able. Also this door is not a door since it’s slightly a-jar?


Shut the front door! You mean, that’s not a real monster?


If there’s a zombie apocalypse I wouldn’t trust this boarded up door. They’re practically dying to get to you through those gaps!

We hope that instead of shutting out the idea of decorating your door, your brain is wide open to the potentials of door decorations! If you wood catch my drift…

If you have a go yourself, please use the hashtag #ManoMaker we would love to see some of your ghouly transformations. 🙂


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