Tag Archives: backyard oasis

Outdoor decor

Love your time outdoors with these simple decor tips

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Love your time outdoors with these simple decor tips

With our harsh long winters, it’s no surprise that Canadians are dying to get into the back yard come spring. Which is why we’re spending more and more on making that small patch of real estate into a heavenly oasis. Long gone are the white plastic chairs circling like wagons around a plexiglass table, and in their place are fire pits and heaters, deep-seated sectional sofas, teak dining tables and chairs, and lights, lots of lights.

All of this exponentially increases the time you spend outdoors listening to the birds, or the burble of a water feature, watching the sun set, and connecting with friends and family.

Even if you don’t really have a back yard, you can create the same experience on that deck or balcony. And furniture manufacturers are eager to provide all your needs for making that possible.

The outdoor furnishings of today are higher quality for better looks and durability. The frames last longer, the fabrics retain their shape and water resistance, and the cushion foam stays comfortable. And if you mix high and low within a good quality line you’ll get more bang for your buck.

There’s also greater choice in materials and styles. In the wood family, there’s teak, ipe or treated pine, but you can also get metal mixed with wood, or solid aluminum, stainless or iron for a clean contemporary look. Of these, teak and aluminum last the longest. Teak needs a little more babying, but wipes clean in a jiffy.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to change things up from time to time, consider modular furniture – pieces that fit together as a sectional or stand alone as chairs which allows you to change the seating arrangement however and whenever you like.

Loose flooring tiles in teak alternative wood is easy to install, and creates an immediate room setting, especially on the concrete of a condo balcony. Add a rug to pull the look together – there are plenty of outdoor carpets to choose from.

And when it comes time to place the furniture, think about where your eye will rest when you sit in a particular spot. If the view isn’t great, reorient the sightlines by moving the furniture around.

Outdoor living room

Comfort is king when it comes to furniture and that includes being waterproof – nothing worse than sitting down in a chair that oozes moisture from the most recent thunderstorm.

A hammock is a worthwhile investment for the afternoon naps or evenings spent gazing at the stars. Add bright colourful pillows and surround the area with container plants and you have a vacation destination right on your deck.

Anything that adds the sound of water is welcome in the back yard – like a fountain that’s powered by a recirculating pump.

Dining alfresco

You’re short on space, and while there’s usually just two for dinner, you still like to entertain friends and family for dinner occasionally. So when shopping for a table, look at the expandable ones. Materials range from classic wrought iron to teak (both pretty pricey) to wood and metal – all great looking but distinctly different in style. Chairs should complement the table, though they don’t have to match exactly, and if your deck is on the small side, get the stackable kind.

Storing your outdoor dining essentials – bright coloured table mats and napkins, covered lanterns or candle holders (so they don’t get rain damaged) and cushions – is important if you don’t want guests sitting down to a wet bottom. Either stow in a cubbie by the back door, or keep in one of those waterproof deck chests that doubles as a bench. Don’t forget to keep extra throws on hand for guests on chilly evenings.

An umbrella will shade the table from sun and rain but if there’s enough space, check out a pergola. It works as a nice architectural feature, shade for a living area – especially fitted with a retractable canopy system – and can be screened in against bugs.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design.


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by Jim Caruk

Building a backyard oasis

Whenever anyone compiles a list of the top renovations for return on investment, pools end up at the bottom of the list. Realtors argue that since not everyone wants a pool, you won’t recoup the money you put into it when it comes time to sell.

My question to you is: how soon do you plan on moving? Unless you know you’ll be moving in the very short-term, I’d argue that you should renovate your home—inside or out—for your own personal enjoyment now, rather than worrying about some potential ROI at an undetermined time down the road. For many people, myself included, their pool is the focal point of a backyard oasis.


The two main options for pools are above-ground and in-ground models. Above-ground pools are cheaper, but tend to have shorter lifespans and somewhat limited design options. With in-ground pools, your budget is the only limit on the size, shape, and depth you choose.

If your space is limited and/or you’re primarily interested in a pool for the exercise, a third option is one of the narrow lap pools with a built-in motor that generates a current that you swim against.

Not a fan of that “chlorine smell”? Saltwater pools incorporate a system that converts the chlorine to a less harsh saline solution.



If you have a pool, it has to be regularly cleaned. But why not let a robot do the work?

Polaris’ 9650iQ Sport model can even be controlled and monitored via an app.

Photography courtesy of Polaris
Photography courtesy of Polaris


Given our climate, you’ll definitely want to invest in a pool heating system. You’ll also want to invest in a good-quality pool cover. These not only stop the water from evaporating, some actually collect solar energy to warm it up.

Yes, there is a bit of work keeping up a pool. You need to check the pH levels, keep the chlorine topped up, skim off any leaves and debris floating on the surface, and run an automated cleaner below. But it’s a lot less work to maintain than a cottage, and comes with none of the commuting hassles.

On the safety side, you’ll want to make sure the pool is enclosed within a gated fence. If you have young children, there are products on the market, such as the Safety Turtle, a kid-friendly wristband that issues an audible alarm if someone falls into the pool. (There are even versions for pets.)


Of course, nothing says a pool has to be a permanent fixture. If some future buyer decides they don’t want a pool, they can have it removed. We once profiled a company in our sister magazine, Renovation Contractor, that does just that. What creative name did they choose for their business? The Pool Fill-In People, of course.

That said, I can tell you from first-hand experience that a nice pool will definitely not hurt your resale value. I sold my old place with an in-ground pool about a year and a half ago, and have missed it ever since. As I’ve been working on this column, I’ve been talking to my pool installer finalizing the details for getting one put in this summer.

Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan
Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan
Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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