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Deck decor - Make your outdoor space a distination oasis

How to make your outdoor space a hot destination oasis

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How to make your outdoor space a hot destination oasis

We Canadians love our backyards, and no wonder. We have been spending so much time at home with COVID-19 that we love to spend more time outside. And stay out there – listening to the birds, the burble of a water feature, watching the sun set, connecting with friends and family, even at a distance.

As the pace of life quickens and our homes shrink in size, the outdoors is literally the last frontier – and the reason why we’re spending so much more on making the backyard, or deck or balcony a destination oasis.

Out with the white plastic chairs and plexiglass tables, in with the fire pits and heaters giving us a much longer outdoor season, deep-seated sectional sofas, teak dining tables and chairs, and strings of lights. Outdoor furniture manufacturers have been eager to meet our need to linger outside with a wider range of furniture, with longer lasting frames, fabrics that retain their shape and water resistance, and cushion foam that stays comfortable.

Here’s what you need to know:

1) Plan out your space according to how you intend to use the deck. If you are a big reader or sun worshipper, but don’t like eating al fresco, set up your space with more living room type furnishings, and tuck a small dining table off to the side and out of the way.

2) Check materials carefully. There’s teak, treated pine, metal mixed with wood, solid aluminum, stainless and wrought iron. Of these, teak and aluminum last the longest, and are probably the most expensive. Teak you need to baby a bit, while aluminum just wipes clean.

3) Consider modular furniture – pieces that fit together as a sectional or stand alone as chairs – for flexibility. You can change the seating arrangement to suit the occasion or your mood.

4) Decks aren’t just for daytime. Small white lights are magical when strung from house to tree. Add candles around the edges of your deck or patio – flameless ones are safer. An ethanol fire pit not only creates mood, but keeps feet warm and can easily be moved around.

5) Music really adds to the ambience – not so loud that your guests can’t hear each other or the neighbours complain, but as background.

6) As for styles, the sky’s the limit, and they can reflect your dream destinations, or they can reflect the decor of your home. Fancy a week in the Hamptons? Check out sectionals in whitewashed and weathered greys – made from resin wicker – with East Coast fabrics such as navy and white stripes (in water repellant fabrics). Prefer life in a Park Avenue brownstone? Then wrought iron with deep charcoal cushions set amidst a row of boxwoods might be better for you.

7) Don’t forget the floor – wood flooring tiles are easy to install, and create an immediate room setting, especially with the concrete of a condo balcony. Add an outdoor rug to pull it all together.

8) There’s nothing like dining al fresco, and if you’re the type who likes tons of people over, an expandable table might be the best choice. Classic wrought iron tables look great and last forever but are pricey. There’s always teak, but it’s pricey, too, so check out budget-friendly teak alternatives that work equally well. If your deck is on the small side, go for stackable dining chairs.

9) Stow outdoor dining essentials – bright coloured table mats and napkins, covered lanterns or candle holders – near the back door or in a waterproof storage bench. Make sure to keep throws handy to ward off the evening chill.

10) An umbrella will shade the table from the sun and rain; one with a tilt arm that can be adjusted to follow the sun all day. The new pergolas do the same and more, especially when fitted with a retractable canopy system or screen to protect against bugs.

11) For privacy, especially on a condo balcony, you can create a privacy wall by positioning a row of evergreens in matching containers along the edges of your deck. Erect lattice or bamboo screening, then add wall mounted planters and a water feature for an instant retreat.

12) Depending on the space you have, hammocks are well worthwhile for the downtime they afford – snoozing or watching the stars. Add colourful pillows and a sea of planters for a cosy destination.

13) Containers are the way to go for gardening. They come in all shapes and sizes and materials (remember that resin is lighter and therefore easier to move). Depending on the direction they face, condo balconies are ideal for herbs and tomatoes, but they need a lot of water, so make sure you have proper drainage. Tropical plants love sun and add a festive air to your deck – you can also bring them in come fall. If you have less direct sunlight, fill tall tapered containers with ornamental grasses for a clean, modern and minimalist look.

14) Just like inside, the deck is made livelier with the addition of some artwork, such as wrought iron grills, architectural salvage, window frames (with or without mirrored glass).

In the end, if you choose any of these tips, who needs a cottage?

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, a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health, wellness and design.


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Five steps to turn your backyard into an entertainer’s delight

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Five steps to turn your backyard into an entertainer’s delight

What better joy is there in life than spending time with your loved ones? Incorporating the visits of family and friends into your backyard design may help these occasions happen more frequently, and it takes a little thought and planning to make this happen.

You might be thinking that your backyard is perfectly adequate: A well-trimmed and mostly green lawn, a tree for shade, and a few chairs you picked up on sale at Costco. Sadly, the majority of suburban backyards in America today are relatively indistinguishable from one another and not all that inviting. What makes a backyard inviting? Here are five ways you can turn your backyard into an entertainer’s delight – without an inground pool and a diving board.

Resort-style atmosphere

As you flip through home and lifestyle magazines, what do you notice? Plants. That’s right, plants are the number one way that you can turn your backyard into a place where people will love to spend time. You don’t have to be a decorator, but it doesn’t hurt if you are! The first thing to realize is that there’s no such thing as having a green thumb. There isn’t a division between people who can communicate with plants like some kind of botanist Dr. Doolittle versus people who will kill a plant just by watering it once. Yes, there was a time when information wasn’t as freely available as it is today, but if you combine the practical advice you’ll find on the internet with the local-specific advice you can get from someone who works at a nursery, you should be able to handle adding some wonderful atmosphere to your backyard.

Water features improve your backyard

Yes, your friends and family would probably be very happy if you let them know that you have just installed an inground pool and that they are welcome to stop by anytime. However, most of us don’t have that kind of budget. Luckily, you don’t need a pool to add some pizzazz to your backyard. Shop around for a water feature instead. This could be anything from a small electric fountain to a wading pool. There’s just something about water that makes people feel relaxed and social.

Outdoor cooking makes your backyard sizzle

Part of what makes gatherings among friends and family so enjoyable is the sharing of food. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a way of preparing food that is more sociable than when you cook in an outdoor kitchen or on a grill. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a complete outdoor kitchen, rejoice. However, don’t fret if it’s not in your budget. A charcoal or gas grill can provide plenty of fun and entertainment, and with a little online research you can narrow your search down to some of the best grills available on the market today.

Shade from the sun is a must

An easy backyard feature to overlook is also one of the least expensive to buy: Any kind of shade. If you’re lucky, nature will have provided shade in the form of trees. However, a visit to an outdoor furnishings store will have a variety of options. Umbrellas are popular; in fact, you may be able to find a vintage umbrella at an estate sale. Some entertainers go further and build pavilions for their backyard. In between those two options are a variety of other structures, often made of canvas, which can be assembled and taken down with relative ease.

Stay outside with comfortable furniture

Lastly, how is the furniture set-up in your backyard? Are there comfortable places for everyone to sit? A set of outdoor furniture will be an investment that pays for itself over and over again with dividends of rest and relaxation. A properly-placed couch is something that can be lounged upon when the weather is just right, and you’ll find yourself spending more and more time in your backyard – even when you aren’t entertaining.


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5 Landscaping ideas and tips to help you reinvent your backyard

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5 Landscaping ideas and tips to help you reinvent your backyard

It’s a beautiful day when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. You go outside to enjoy the natural setting but your backyard is nothing like a welcoming place where you can reconnect with nature. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, your backyard most likely needs a complete refresh. Here are 5 landscaping ideas and tips to help you reinvent your backyard:

Get to know your property

First things first, before you even start to plan your landscaping project, you need to get to know your property. There are a number of characteristics that you must determine before you start planning the outdoor space of your property.

First of all, you need to determine the size of your backyard. Then, you need to see how much free space you can use in your project. For example, if there is an old huge tree in the middle of your outdoor space, you need to determine whether your landscaping project will be around the tree or whether you want to cut it down.

However, landscaping experts advise homeowners to avoid destroying the natural elements that already exist in their outdoor space. Instead, it is recommended to find a way to integrate them nicely in their landscaping projects.

Secondly, once you have determined the available space you can work with, it is time to decide what can be done about the gardening area. Start by determining what type of soil you have in your garden. For example, not all types of soils are suitable for grass, especially in sand wet areas. So, depending on the type of plants you want to have in your garden and the type of soil you need for them to grow, you need to use a topsoil volume and price calculator to determine how much soil you will need for your gardening project.

Next, another factor that will influence the gardening area of your outdoor space is the climate of your area. So, when choosing the plants for your gardening project, make sure you choose plants that can grow in an environment with your type of climate.

Use borrowed views

This is a pro tip and may sound more complicated than it is in reality. However, all that it takes is to take a look at your immediate surroundings and see if there is any spectacular view that you can include in your landscaping project.

For example, does your neighbor have a spectacular big old tree in their yard that is also visible from your backyard? If yes, you should certainly avoid to cover that view but rather use it in your project.

Using surrounding elements in your landscaping project can make a huge difference in the final results. If your surroundings already offer you such amazing elements, why not include them in your project? So, don’t raise that high brick fence but rather let the view be part of your outdoor experience.

Build pallets furniture

Pallet furniture is one of the newest and most popular trends in the landscaping industry. pallets are not only extremely cheap and easy to use in your outdoor projects, but they can also look extremely fashionable in your yard if you customize them properly. You can find a number of DIY projects on how to build outdoor furniture using pallets.

You can even build a fun swing for your kids and hang it on that large tree you have in your yard. Every garden needs a seating area in order for you to enjoy spending time in nature in your own backyard. So, you can use pallets to build benches and a table where you can have your breakfast or morning coffee.

If you also have a pool in your backyard, you can also use pallets to build a bar which can be extremely useful if you are planning to host a few pool parties this summer.

There is no limit to how many things you can build using pallets for your outdoor area. All you have to do is to use your imagination and create outdoor elements in a cheap and sustainable way.

Create an experience

Go outside in your backyard and close your eyes for a few seconds. Imagine what you would like to hear or what you would like to see when you open your eyes. Would you like to hear the calming sound of water? Then, you should certainly add a water feature in your garden. Would you like to think of your backyard as a corner where you can connect with nature in the concrete jungle? Then, you should plant more trees and flowers. That’s how you manage to make an outdoor space that gives a full experience of senses, not just a visual one.

There are several elements that you can include in your landscaping project such as a swimming pool, fountains, retaining walls, or fire pits that will create a full experience for the senses. There will be nothing more relaxing after a stressful day at work than to sit in your backyard with your family and enjoy the experience of natural elements that you have created.

Use outdoor lighting

Although lighting is hardly your priority in your landscaping project, you should really take this idea seriously. Outdoor lighting can contribute to the experience you create in your backyard more than you would even imagine right now.

Outdoor lighting isn’t only necessary to be able to see the walking path during dark nights. It can also enhance the way your garden looks offering a spectacular experience during the nighttime.

Whether you choose to use LED fairy lights, solar spotlights, or string lights, you need to calculate how much are you want to illuminate. Also, you can choose subtle lighting for the seating area of your outdoor which will create a more private setting for romantic dinners in your backyard.

Landscaping can seem intimidating when you are not a pro and you are just starting your first project. However, with a little bit of research and tips from experts, you can reshape the way your backyard will look.


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5 outdoor projects to enhance your backyard

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5 outdoor projects to enhance your backyard

As the weather begins to warm up, we Canadians get excited at the thought of spending time outdoors. It’s amazing how quickly we forget how much we once hated stepping outside in the winter. If you’re planning to spend as much time outside as possible while it’s warm, you should consider adding some outdoor updates to make the most of your space. Take a look at these five outdoor projects that will enhance your backyard.

1. Fire pit

A fire pit is a great addition to any backyard, provided you’re allowed to have one. Before you can start roasting marshmallows, you need to check with your local government that you can have a fire pit in your backyard. Once you know you’re allowed, you can start planning.

A fire pit helps create a focal point and adds ambience to any space. To get started on this project, you will need the help of a landscaping company. Creating a fire pit is relatively easy depending on your design. A landscaper will dig a hole and then cover it in stones to create your fire pit. Get started this week by finding a company that can carry out your vision, quickly and easily.

2. Pergola

If you like the idea of having something to congregate around but don’t want to endure more heat, think about adding a pergola. A pergola adds a beautiful focal point to any backyard and can also be used for shade and climbing plants. Adding a pergola is a relatively inexpensive project that can be done over a weekend. Depending on how elaborate your design is, you can expect to pay anywhere from $750 to more than $9,000. The materials used and your design will greatly affect the cost. Be sure to have a design in mind when you speak to a pro about what you want. This way they can help you design and build the perfect pergola for your backyard at the right price.

3. Privacy fence

No matter how much you like your neighbours, it’s likely you don’t want them watching your every move in your backyard. Installing a privacy fence gives you the separation you’re looking for while also providing an opportunity for visual enhancement. While chain link and wood are standard options, there are many other materials out there that can be used to create a unique look. Consider using concrete, metal sheeting, or a mix of traditional and unconventional materials. A privacy fence doesn’t have to blend into the background, it can become a beautiful focal point of your yard. Speak to a fencing expert about your options to create something truly unique.

4. Water feature

The addition of a water feature is a great way to add a little zen to your backyard. Not only is a water feature pleasing to look at, but the gentle sounds of running water can also help relax you after a long day. One of the most common water features is a pond. You have many options when it comes to size and styles. You can either have one dug on your existing property or use a container above ground. It all depends on your personal style and what you want. With so many options, it’s always a good idea to consult with an expert who can give you their opinion on what will help to enhance your space the best.

Consider adding a pump to your pond to create moving water. The benefits of moving water are that it will deter mosquitoes and aerate the water should you add fish. A small pump will cost you about $30 but will greatly improve how your water feature looks.

5. Shed

A shed is not only a practical addition to your yard, but it can also enhance the space. Whether you’re a master gardener or just starting out, a shed is a perfect place to store all your tools and materials. This way you will have a proper space for everything and you will be able to find what you need when you need it. Without a shed, it’s likely your garden tools will end up all over your house and yard. Another benefit of adding a shed is that it will increase your property value. Whether you’re planning to sell in the near future or not for many years, having additional storage on your property is always a plus. If you’re looking for the perfect shed for your yard, speak to a specialist who can build one specifically for your needs.

As the weather continues to warm up and we continue to fantasize about long weekends spent outdoors, it’s important to get started on these projects before all the best pros are booked up. Get started on your next project so you can be relaxing by the time the first summer long weekend arrives.

Jessica Greaves Being the Senior Content Marketing Specialist at HomeStars, Jessica’s main goal is providing readers with the tools to turn their fixer-uppers into dream homes. When not busy browsing Pinterest, Jessica can be found wandering through vintage shops and baking desserts with varying degrees of success.

Article courtesy of HomeStars


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How to prepare and plan the perfect backyard for your clients – even if you’re not a landscaper

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How to prepare and plan the perfect backyard for your clients – even if you’re not a landscaper

Most contractors find backyard makeovers a “a pain in the butt,” says Toronto-based landscape designer Fausto Presta, so when clients ask for planning help, you’re best to at least develop a friendly relationship with a landscaper. Working with one is cost-effective, since some things are easier and cheaper to put in early, like gas and electric lines for BBQs, kitchens, outdoor lighting, or water features.

A lot depends on the client, though, says TV show host and landscape designer Carson Arthurs. He breaks down by generation: Baby boomers who like to garden and want someone to create the structure, but not the planting; hard-working Gen Xers happy to pay for someone to do the work; and “Millennials who have greater debt than the other two generations combined, and are very careful how they spend.”

However this plays out, you’ll want to have some working knowledge of basic backyard principles as well as a few of the latest trends.

Start at the beginning

Arthurs directs clients to sites like Houzz, so they can build a dream file to share with the contractor. “Often homeowners don’t know what they want until they see it,” he says. He finds they also need help with furniture and feature sizes, especially in small urban yards where space is a premium. He usually recommends they find the furniture and appliances first before designing the yard, and plan the yard around those elements.

He also recommends figuring out the privacy angles in the yard. Take a chair and sit in spots you have in mind for seating and look around. “You’d be surprised what you see – and more importantly who can see you – from that perspective.” This helps plan where the privacy hedge or fence should go.

For vegetable gardens, raised beds are the way to go. It’s easier to control the nutrients and moisture levels, plus they’re accessible for older clients.

Raised beds

If your clients are big into vegetable gardening, raised beds are the way to go. It’s easier to control the soil, nutrients, and moisture levels, plus they’re accessible for older clients. Soil in most back yards isn’t all that good and usually needs amending – raised beds offer the containment to make a good healthy soil mix.

You’ll want to site the bed where it gets at least six hours sunlight a day. Arthurs has a neat trick for determining the light levels – place a solar-powered dancing toy from the dollar store where the bed will go. Keep track of how long the toy dances to know hours of sunlight.

When it comes to building the bed, you can use pretty much anything – stone, corrugated metal, wood – as long as it works with the yard’s existing materials, says Arthurs. “But don’t forget that some materials negatively impact the soil, like railway ties, which leave toxic residue in the soil that nourishes the veg that end up on your dinner table.”

There are kits from big box stores but most landscape designers don’t like to use them because they look, well, a little kit-like. Consider instead well-placed large planters – terracotta or corten steel are two popular materials, come in any shape, and add visual interest to the yard.

Dimensions are important, Arthurs adds. “Up to eight feet long but no wider than four, because no matter how much yoga you do, that’s too big an expanse to bend over.”

Arthurs’s best tip? Line the bottom with flattened cardboard boxes. “In Canada, they’re soy-based so there’s no leeching of harmful chemicals, plus it prevents weeds from coming up through the soil below.”

Audio systems

Nothing like a little music wafting out over the deck on a lazy summer day as you’re snoozing in the hammock. Technology has made this very simple to do – just connect an app like Sonos, Spotify, or Amazon to a wireless system like Bose. Otherwise you’re into some serious wiring.

The environmental client

An environmental garden generally functions at a micro level of design – that is, it’s the kind of plants chosen – but some elements can be put in place to make that happen.

The two essentials to a sustainable garden are reducing water and pesticide use, says Presta. “Getting rid of the lawn is a start, and then choose drought-resistant plants that don’t need much water.”

Contractors can install sustainable watering systems, Presta says. “Those that spray mist use less water, and can be timed to come on at 3 am when the water will sink in the soil rather than evaporate like it does midday.”

Even greener practices include water retention systems. “An up and coming thing is taking water from the roof,” he says. “You dig a pit for a cistern then run the downspout into it. Then it needs a pump to circulate the water into the garden.”

Arthurs isn’t a fan of rain barrels, however, because homeowners tend to forget about them, because it’s difficult to circulate the water for the garden or washing the car and the water stagnates. Not a wise choice, with the reality of West Nile.

He is a fan of bee houses, though. These are manufactured for mason bees, which “don’t sting, are non-aggressive, solitary, and only lay their eggs there. But they’re great pollinators and you’re creating valuable habitat.”

The bees lay their eggs in tubes and seal the holes – the longer the tube the farther back they can push the eggs so birds can’t get at them.


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Why wait to enjoy your backyard?

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Why wait to enjoy your backyard?

As temperatures slowly start to warm up here in Ontario, it’s easy to imagine spending more time outdoors. I’m here to give you a few simple tips on how you can create your very own luxurious backyard retreat — no passport or suitcase required. Now is the time to get those projects finished so that you can get the most out of your backyard this season. Are you ready to own a little piece of paradise? If so, keep reading.

By creating distinct zones in your outdoor living space, you create several customized, livable areas. This not only makes your yard more functional, but also more luxurious because you are optimizing the space for maximum enjoyment. Think of resorts where there’s the pool area, the cabana, the outdoor bar, barbecue, the yoga area, the tennis courts… okay, you might not be adding a tennis court but you get the idea. Try using large area rugs to ground these spaces. They will help distinguish one area from another, and make each space feel more pulled together. Lighting can also help with this. Hanging light pendants from above will create a more intimate atmosphere, while placing lights on the ground offer an open and airy environment. While area rugs and lighting are important considerations when creating the type of retreat you want, the most important question to ask yourself is: How will you be using your space?

Try to incorporate a good balance of hardscape and softscape in your outdoor retreat. Think about those luxurious walkways at resorts that guide you to the pool area. Not only are they colourful, they are also calming and restorative. The stone-work surface surrounded by the lush greenery feels so indulgent. Look to replicate this vibe. By adding plants of varying heights and an eclectic mix of planters, you can create a space that feels beautifully curated. When it comes to plants, the more the merrier. Just ask your local greenhouse which plants require less maintenance, that is, if you don’t have a green thumb.

Of course, nothing says luxury more than cool gadgets that get the conversation started. This summer, I recommend trying out the brand new Space Grill. It’s the world’s very first, full-sized, three-burner, fold-down, gas grill. The space-saving design allows you to mount it on an outside wall, or hang it on a stand so that it takes up as little space as possible. It also looks so stylish. Watch THIS video to see what I’m talking about. It’s available at all three Barbecue World locations.

When it comes to accessories, I’d encourage sticking to tone-on-tone neutrals. Think black, white, taupe and navy, as these colours work well together and tend to give a lavish feel to your space. By adding pops of bright colour, you tend to make the space feel more casual. Think of the really high-end resorts – you’d usually find white-canopied beds, black loungers, white towels … you get the picture, right? To create the same luxurious feel in your own backyard, stick with a similar palette. In fact, Airmiles has a brand new rewards catalogue with 200 additions. I used my miles to get the Napoleon Healthy Choice Starter Kit – the perfect accessory for grilling this season. Collectors from coast to coast can select from a variety of barbecues, patio furniture and accessories.

In 2019, low-lying outdoor furniture is trending. This comfortable yet stylish look tends to give off a luxe vibe. The good news is, there are some fantastic options that can give you this look without breaking the bank. My favourite this season is Hampton Bay Park Heights this collection set from The Home Depot.

So there you have it. A few simple tips on how you can create a luxurious retreat in your own backyard. Now let’s hope we get some warm weather sooner rather than later.

Jaclyn Harper is a TV host, interior stylist and new mom living in Burlington, Ontario. You may recognize her from shows like Tiny Talent Time, Morning Live First Edition and The Shopping Channel. She has also worked behind the scenes for the Property Brothers’ Show, Buying And Selling. When Jaclyn’s not on TV or creating beautiful designs, you’ll find her latest projects on her blog jaclynharperdesigns.com. From DIYs, design projects to life as a new mom, her lifestyle blog and YouTube channel give her fans a peek into her family life.


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Inside and out a 30-year-old kitchen and exterior landscape get a California-style makeover

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Inside and out a 30-year-old kitchen and exterior landscape get a California-style makeover

Photography: Gillian Jackson

You get to know a thing or two about a house after living in it for 30 years. For my clients, Sue and Lou who love to cook and entertain and be outdoors, their house had served them well. The lot was a great size and the 30-year-old trees were now stately and full, so moving wasn’t a consideration, but they knew it all needed some fine-tuning.

Seating nook
The desk, and seating nook offer great views of both the kitchen and the backyard.

As world travellers, they knew they loved the Mediterranean and California lifestyle of simple indoor-outdoor living. Their backyard was substantial and had a built-in pool, cabana, outdoor kitchen and covered wood-fired barbecue/ roasting oven. But inside, the small kitchen felt cut off from the yard and view by the covered deck.

A renovation was in order to enlarge the kitchen, but because we needed to preserve the concrete roof tiles — the Marley roof couldn’t be replaced — we had to dig out from underneath it while propping the roof in place. The area under the original covered porch was incorporated into a larger, eat-in kitchen and the walls became windows to the outdoors.


Because a great cooking and entertaining space was at the top of their wish list, we knew we wanted the home to be breezy and lightfilled, and to take full advantage of the southern exposure. A Nana wall was installed because it tidily folds away, offering the perfect solution to access the outdoors. The original skylights were preserved and with new, larger windows, boundless light now floods into the space.

ABOVE LEFT: White oak floors, cream coloured cabinetry and integrated appliances soften the look of a hard-working space. ABOVE RIGHT: The Marley roof tiles were kept intact and the extension grew under it.


Once the renovation was underway, the homeowners decided to upgrade the backyard, too. They resurfaced the pool and pool deck. Lou is a passionate golfer so he had a one-hole putting green installed on one side of the yard. Light-coloured Travertine paving stones lift and brighten the backyard, and a taupe solid stain helps blend out the building structures, allowing the pool and greenery to stand out. The trick was to continue the feeling from indoors to out, so we chose white oak flooring in a light colour to blur the lines between them.

RIGHT: Custom details like the vent hood and backsplash personalize and enhance a kitchen.


The kitchen went from a small, dark space to an expansive, chef’s kitchen with plenty of room to hang out and enjoy all the views. The custom-designed kitchen by Downsview Kitchens, addresses all the homeowners’ needs. Creamy white cabinetry and backsplash tile are enhanced by the natural quartz countertops. When you walk in, your eye is immediately drawn out to the backyard and the kitchen recedes as part of the furnishings.


We created a servery adjacent to the main cooking area where counter, sink, bar fridges, liquor cabinet and cooler drawers are accessible. Guests could help themselves in the kitchen without getting in the way of the prep and cooking.

A large island accommodates the kitchen sinks, expansive prepping area and counter seating for guests. I’m not a fan of the work triangle theory, which came about after the Second World War and was practical at the time. Now we work in zones: store, chill, prep, cook and clean. I like to design kitchens, so you don’t have to cross the cooking zone to get to the fridge, keeping the zones separate but nearby.

We incorporated a desk area to rein in any paper clutter and placed it next to the new glass door that leads to the outdoor kitchen. The seating nook is a cosy, glassed-in area that gets you as close to the pool as possible without leaving the house. Swivel chairs make it easy to take in every angle, the whole view, outside and in.

Now that their wish list is complete, the homeowners live in a resort-like atmosphere, that they can appreciate every day. They didn’t bargain on the fact that I would be at their door every hot summer day for a swim, but they’ll get used to me.

SOURCES KITCHEN: custom kitchen, custom colour, Downsview Kitchens APPLIANCES: Miele OVENS, DISHWASHER: Sub-Zero, Wolf BAR FRIDGE, REFRIGERATOR: Wolf INDUCTION COOKTOP: Caplan’s GLASS WALL SYSTEM:NanaWall System TABLE AND CHAIRS: Wormwood maple table and custom chairs Brice’s COUNTERTOP: natural quartz, Dolce Vita from Interstone PAINT: WALLS: Plaster of Paris CSP-185, Benjamin Moore TRIM & CEILING: Oxford White CC-30, Benjamin Moore FLOORING: White Oak, Nautilus from Vintage Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour. janelockhart.com


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The National Home Show 2019

4 tips to make the most of your small balcony – from National Home Show experts

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4 tips to make the most of your small balcony – from National Home Show experts

Having a backyard or even a balcony (no matter how big or small) is a luxury these days for most people, especially the closer you live to the city. And, with square footage getting smaller and more expensive, maximizing the potential of every inch of your space, including your balcony, is crucial. It’s time to start thinking of your exterior as an extension of your home. You can create a slice of paradise even in the smallest of spaces with just the right touches, and National Home Show experts are here to prove it.

Here are four ways to make the most of your small outdoor space:

1. Look for space saving furniture

Just because your balcony may be compact, doesn’t mean it needs to feel cramped, or that you have to sacrifice luxury for space. Look for furniture that is comfortable, without be bulky. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t fit a table and chairs. Folding furniture for a small space can be just as pretty as stationary counterparts these days, and retailers such as Andrew Richard Designs are offering double-duty options in sleek designs that don’t add bulk to your space. Think chairs with armrests that double as a side table and space dividers that are also storage bins.

Also, don’t forget to organize and optimize your available space and consider exterior walls and railings as part of your canvas – perhaps lights along your railings to illuminate your balcony and help keep the floor area free of clutter, freeing up more space for essential furniture.

2. Decor makes all the difference

Cold, bare concrete walls and floors wouldn’t make your condo feel homey, so why would they your balcony? Inexpensive wood deck tiles or simply stencil painting a pattern onto the concrete can add instant warmth to your balcony. Incorporate small outdoor area rugs or throw cushions instead of heavy furniture to add texture, comfort and personality, as well as make your area appear bigger. And don’t be afraid to add bright colours to your petite space. Your outdoor area should represent your style, just as much as your interior choices.

3. Take your garden to vertical heights

Starting from the ground up, AstroTurf is an easy way to replicate that suburban yard feel on your city balcony that won’t frustrate condo management. Don’t be afraid to get your green thumb on, even in a small way, by scattering tiny potted herbs around your outdoor space, but remember to hang them vertically to avoid taking up valued floor space. Placing plants at various heights will also help add major interest and height to your space, and don’t hesitate to be creative, says Peter Bonanno of Curb Appeal. Think about perching some planters on balcony railings or investing in a sleek and possible portable privacy screen for added seclusion. But, be sure to fill platers with outdoor, seasonal flowers that can withstand the elements and ever-changing weather conditions.

4. Lighten the mood

Whether it’s with lights or a little fire, light it up and set the mood in the process. Even if you can’t swing railing lights, outdoor lanterns and even simple mason jars filled with sand and a candle are perfect to light up a summer night on your balcony. If heat and ambiance is what you’re after, mini portable tabletop heaters come in a variety of finishes and colours. Not only will these help you extend your outdoor time on cooler, shorter days, but they’ll also keep away pesky mosquitos. Just be sure not to light things up too much, as you wouldn’t want to ruin the view of a perfect starlit night sky.

If you’re looking for even more inspiring home, condo and garden ideas, and want to see these tips come to life, visit the Outdoor Living Feature at the National Home Show presented by ReMax and co-located with Canada Blooms from March 8 to 17 at The Enercare Centre in the Exhibition Place in Toronto.

For further information on the National Home Show or Canada Blooms, at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place, visit the website.



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Transform your backyard into an extension of your home

Transform your backyard into an extension of your home

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Transform your backyard into an extension of your home

Although summer is almost gone, the autumn is the perfect time to enjoy your backyard.

(NC) — Although summer is almost gone, the autumn is the perfect time to enjoy your backyard. Sharon Grech, Benjamin Moore colour and design expert, shares tips on how to bring the latest looks to your open-air escape.

Dine al fresco: Consider pushing your al fresco dining areas further out into the yard for a unique and ambient experience. “Cooking under the stars is the perfect way to spend time with family and friends while embracing the weather throughout the summer months,” says Grech. Barbecues, fire pits and outdoor wood ovens are great options for cooking when entertaining guests, as most of the cooking can be done right there.

Create an outdoor oasis: Injecting colourful accessories into your landscape is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to elevate a backyard and make it feel like an extension of your home. Whether it’s bright, colourful ornate items or hand-crafted outdoor rugs, adding colour to your backyard will create a vibrant and inviting retreat. Flower boxes, string lights and cushions are great ways to make a backyard feel like a serene and inviting oasis.

Deck design: Create areas of interest by using both semi-transparent and solid stains on your deck and rails. “I like to apply a natural, lighter stain on the deck, with a darker solid stain to enhance vertical architectural features like the railing,” says Grech. If your wood is new or in great shape, treat it with a simple translucent or semi-transparent stain like Benjamin Moore Arborcoat to heighten natural wood colour. Semi-solid stains are great for covering imperfections, allowing some of the grain and texture of the wood to show through, while solid stains are more like paint and leave an opaque colour and texture. “You can test the different translucencies and colours with pint sample cans. It’s always best to try-before-you-buy,” recommends Grech.

Find more information and colour inspiration at benjaminmoore.com/en-ca

Source: newscanada.com/home


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Cover Story: In The Zone

Latest News

Cover Story: In The Zone

The designated areas of Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault’s backyard makeover add up to countless hours of summer fun

By: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault

Photography By: Larry Arnal

There aren’t many things more boringly Canadian than talking about the weather, but now that warmer days and balmy nights are in the forecast, I have to tell you…I’m doing cartwheels across the lawn at the thought of summer patio season!


Maybe it’s the fact that after a decade of living with a lacklustre backyard, my husband and I FINALLY invested in a complete outdoor overhaul, starting with a new low-maintenance concrete patio that has turned our once-underutilized patch of suburban grass into a multi-functional extension of our home. Early in the planning phase, we discussed how we envisioned spending time in our then-blank-canvas backyard, and determined that we wanted to include dedicated zones for lounging, dining, and cooking, as well as a fun zone for outdoor games.


For the lounging zone, we opted for a modular, maintenance free woven resin sectional that is perfect for relaxing with our feet up on lazy days but can also comfortably seat up to 10 guests when we’re entertaining. We defined this zone by introducing a substantial outdoor area rug that adds softness underfoot and is large enough to sit under the front legs of the furniture to anchor the area.


When we were shopping for the lounge set, we searched specifically for neutral beige, gray, and black finishes that would complement the existing exterior brick façade, trim, and fixtures of our home to create a cohesive look.


We then introduced touches of colour through affordable outdoor cushions and potted annuals, and I even transformed kitschy hot-pink plastic garden flamingos into a pair of flirty fowl with a quick coat of Universal spray paint in Copper Rose.


Another major consideration for our lounging zone was staying cool on sunny sweltering days. Our backyard gets direct afternoon sun, and I often felt like a sizzling strip of bacon when I sat out for more than five minutes, so I included a large free-standing market umbrella in the space that can be tilted to shield us from the rays.


For the dining zone, I had visions of creating a relaxed al fresco environment complete with comfortable seating and a self-serve beverage cart, but after searching high and low for the perfect piece, I decided to flex some DIY muscle and make my own! With less than $200 worth of materials and an afternoon of construction, I created a mobile drink station that features a mounted bottle opener, folding sides that lift for extra prep surface, and an insulated cooler inside to keep beverages cold. To finish it off and complement the dining set, I added a quick coat of Varathane Ebony Stain and an exterior clear-coat to protect it from the elements.


Like most exterior dining tables, our cast aluminum set has an umbrella in the centre, which makes it difficult to display a centrepiece, and any potted plants that I leave out on the tabletop often blown over with a gust of wind. So, I decided to craft an upcycle solution by adding a fresh coat of high-gloss black paint to an old Bundt pan from my kitchen, and then I planted a collection of fresh annuals inside it. Now, with the umbrella through the centre, I have no worries of it blowing away, and it creates the perfect focal point on the table.


Our biggest backyard splurge was creating an outdoor cooking zone! We installed a simple stacked-stone peninsula to house a built-in BBQ, and topped it with a solid slab of granite featuring a breakfast bar overhang at the back. As the saying goes, “the party always ends up in the kitchen”… and well, the “burger bar” is inevitably where everyone tends to gather now when we entertain.


And when it came to creating the “fun zone,” it didn’t take much more than a few outdoor games of ladder golf and badminton to set the tone for family activities. On weekends when the neighbourhood kids come over to play, I even whip up a quick DIY giant checkerboard using a square cardboard template, a can of YardArt spray paint, and a collection of red and blue dollar-store Frisbees to act as the game pieces, and it makes for hours of afternoon fun.

By designing our outdoors with distinctive zones in mind, we now have a multi-purpose space that not only maximizes the style and function of our once-bland backyard, but also extends our living space exponentially during the warm weather months.


OUTDOOR FURNITURE: DOT Furniture; PILLOWS, AREA RUG, DINING ACCESSORIES: Canadian Tire; BBQ: Napoleon; Universal metallic spray PAINT and YardArt PAINT: Rust-Oleum

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “DO IT YOURSELF.” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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