Couple build a pub in their back garden for under £600

·3 min read

As a nation, we've been missing the pub since the start of the first lockdown. We've also been spending a lot more time outside. So is it any wonder that everyone now seems to want build their own garden bar? 

Plenty of retailers are now selling them, from Habitat's tropical-style beach bar gazebo (£350) to the Robert Dyas wooden cocktail bar (£399). But really, is there anything that beats making your own? 

That's just what South London couple Emma Farnham, 51, and Ian Powell, 57, did during the first lockdown - transforming a rundown pre-fab garage, filled with spiders and rubbish, into a welcoming boozer on a tiny £600 budget. 

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Emma in the finished pub (credit Emma Farnham)

"As very happy pub goers we were bereft by lockdown," she told Yahoo. "What's more, Ian had no work and needed to fill his time." 

In just a month, the pub-lovers had used their DIY skills and clever bargain hunting to get their bar up and running. 

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The garage waiting for its transformation (Credit Emma Farnham)

Firstly, they decided to re-surface the tired garage walls in on-trend wooden panelling, managing to thriftily and sustainably repurpose some wood from a handy local source. 

"Our panelled walls came from a kindly neighbour who happened to be replacing their decking, so we used their old wood," said Emma. 

She used leftover paint, donated by the same neighbour, to create a monochrome, geometric design on the garage floor. 

Read more: Aldi launches stylish garden bar for summer

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Emma's chic hand-painted floor (Credit Emma Farnham)

The pub's centrepiece is a well-stocked wooden bar, which Emma and Ian fashioned from a variety of inventive sources. "We made the bar from an old wooden palette and the base of a single bed," said Emma, "And we used an old oak table, borrowed from my mum, for the bar top!" 

At the rear of the pub the couple installed a stylish cocktail lounge with a vintage feel, furnished with frugal odds and ends. 

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Upcycled chairs (Credit: Emma Farnham)

One of her friends, for example, found three chairs outside the dentist which Emma painted and re-covered. An old cane sofa came from Facebook, while other decorations were discovered on eBay and in charity shops. All in all, the DIY materials and knick-knacks for the pub came in at under £600. 

"We aimed to beg and borrow as much as we could," she said. "Not only to keep the price down but also to reuse and recycle and be better for the environment - what's more, it gave us a sense of achievement. I love a skip!"

So now that pubs and bars are largely open - albeit with restrictions and measures such as app ordering - have Ian and Emma stopped using their DIY boozer? Not a chance. "It has changed our whole attitude about going to the pub," she said. "We still love the social aspect of a proper pub but our bar is super fun!"

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