Active Home: Stretch Out The Seasons
Photography, courtesy of Lisa Rogers
Trying to extend outdoor time in our seasonal climate, and squeeze as much living as possible out of our backyards, has become a national preoccupation. With the addition of fire pits, heaters, deep-seated sectional sofas, dining areas and lots of lights, it’s easy to accomplish.
The quality of outdoor furniture has come a long way. There are far more durable and water-resistant options available, but good quality does cost more.
When it comes to frames, there are all-wood ones, like teak, ipe (an exotic hardwood) or treated pine, as well as ones that are a wood/metal mix that include solid aluminum, stainless or iron. Hardy resin/wickers inject a weathered Hamptons’ look.
Whatever style you choose, stick to a minimal colour scheme that complements your home. Turquoise and lime suggest a seashore theme, while green and red are pure Muskoka, and black and tan are fashionably uptown.
Consider your sight-lines when positioning furniture. When sitting, make sure your eyes rest on a pleasing view. If not, reconfigure.
If you don’t have a deck, balcony sized furniture can be arranged to create a similar experience. If you’re short on space, consider an expandable table and stackable chairs. Storing cushions and dining essentials can be a challenge, so incorporate a waterproof bench or a cubby by the back door. Keep extra throws on hand for chilly evenings.
Even the smallest water feature can add a soothing ambiance to an outdoor space. There’s nothing like flickering flames from an outdoor fire and candles. Depending upon your space, flameless candles may prove to be a safe alternative, or string small white lights through a tree or along a fence. Ethanol fire pits are a great option, but check first with your condo board.
Long gone are the days when you had to put a speaker in the window from your massive stereo system. Playing music outdoors is easy, and it sounds great. Tune into your favourite playlist through your computer, phone or Sonos speakers, but ensure that the neighbours don’t have to listen too.
Typically, an outdoor space is more private if you’re living in a low rise home, than a townhome or condo. Imaginative fixes to counter balance this concern include the installation of lattice or bamboo screening. Also, you can place boxwoods or ornamental grasses in tall, matching containers along the edge of your deck – they not only create privacy, but augment your deck-scape.
Umbrellas come in all shapes and sizes, and can be positioned to shade targeted areas. If space isn’t a concern, consider a a pergola. Not only is it an attractive architectural feature, but it can be fitted with a retractable canopy system and screened in to keep out pesky pests.
Take the time to smell the roses, listen to the birds and watch the sun set every evening by increasing the time that you spend outdoors this summer – and fall.
Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes, and has appeared on Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV, Flare TV and The Shopping Channel. Lisa is a regular guest consultant on City’s Cityline.