Tag Archives: outdoor space

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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How to decorate your deck for the summertime

How to decorate your deck for the summertime

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How to decorate your deck for the summertime

If you’re like me and you spend a lot of time outdoors, creating a warm and inviting space to chill out and enjoy nature is important. Whether we’re entertaining friends and family, or simply enjoying a morning cup of coffee, our exterior environment is equally as important as inside our home. I’ve spent a lot of time decorating our decks in our homes in Etobicoke, Muskoka and (eventually) Arizona so we always have a place outside that’s comfortable, while still in keeping with our interior design aesthetic.

Focus on furniture

Select natural materials and finishes to give an overall sense of calm and peace for your backyard deck. Teak furniture is ideal as you don’t have to store it indoors during the winter, while faux wicker pieces have a great organic feel, never break down and are really easy to clean. If you get a lot of direct sunlight, create shade with a cantilever umbrella. Transportable, small tables also work well as a convenient place to lay down a book or place a cocktail!


Linger on your deck into the evening hours with friends and family by softening your deck and seating area with colourful, durable accent pillows in an array of lovely summer shades. Make sure you buy pillows that are constructed with outdoor fabrics so nature doesn’t take its toll. Toss them on your patio chairs, a sectional or a bench for an instant colour lift.

Build a small garden

Before you start selecting what plants and flowers you’re going to use, make sure you evaluate your sun exposure, wind and general temperature zone your home is in. All of that will affect which blooms will grow best.

Whether beside the patio/deck door, along the stairs or a railing, scatter beautiful potted plants all over in varying size and shape, while also using a bunch of annuals and perennials for beautiful shots of colour. There’s certainly no shortage of planters available, so you can virtually find any size and style that suits you. This is the time I also plant my favourite herbs (a sunny patio is the perfect spot to grow them), along with a tomato plant or two. If you’re uncertain what to plant where, your best bet is to go to a garden store so they can answer any questions you have.

Throw down a stylish outdoor rug

Turn your patio or deck into an outdoor living room by accessorizing with an outdoor rug that’s all-weather and durable. It will lend a cosy vibe to the space, plus it’s nice not to have to wear shoes! They add a nice textural element, while also being highly functional (they will help anything from being tracked when you move in/outdoors). Opt for a rug in a neutral colour so as to blend in with your existing deck (and furniture) as best as possible.

Create privacy

Love your deck, but not your view? Block out your street, a busy intersection or that nosy neighbour by using a row of evergreens to form a privacy wall where you need it. It’s the easiest way to build an intimate, private space in your backyard. I love faux hedges and plants, too! Definitely less maintenance, and they last for years. If you have the space, consider a retractable awning, that will not only protect you from the sun, but will also act as an anchor to your space giving a more intimate feel.

Alternatively, you could install a wooden lattice wall to one side of your deck and plant clematis and climbing roses that will naturally grow up the lattice. Over time they’ll form a gorgeous wall of blooms.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer 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 interior design.


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How to make the most of a small outdoor space

How to make the most of a small outdoor space

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How to make the most of a small outdoor space

by Madisyn McKee

Check out our tips that help you design the small outdoor space of your dreams

Whether you live in a beautiful new condo or find yourself in a semi-detached home in Toronto, you may be finding yourself wondering how to make the most your small outdoor space. Despite summers being shorter than we’d like in Canada, it’s still important to create a space where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.

With small spaces you should make sure you are using every last inch to its full potential. Keep in mind, though, you don’t want the space to feel cramped.

Before getting started, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what you plan on using the space for. Will you be using it to entertain the kids, host small get-togethers or use it as your tranquil space away from the bustle of the city?

Out with the old

The first thing you should be do is declutter and clean the space. Be ruthless, get rid of everything you no longer need or want. If you are the type of person that hates throwing old mementos out, consider putting some of your knick-knacks on shelves.

Try revitalizing old candle holders and place them outside to make the space look intimate and romantic. Old Christmas lights will also work in the same way if you can hang them around the walls.

Utilize the space

A popular trend for smaller outdoor spaces is installing hanging gardens. Hang terracotta pots along the wall so they are off of the floor and make great centerpieces for the area. Just remember to plant the right greenery for the area, take note if the space gets lots of sun or very little.

If you find the space in need of a little colour or livening up, get an outdoor rug. Make sure to purchase a rug that can remain outside in all types of weather.

Placing mirrors around the walls is a great way to give the illusion that the area is larger than it really is.

Finally, collapsible furniture will help you make the most out of your outdoor space, especially if the area is going to be used for dining and entertaining.

Create storage

Buying furniture that doubles as a storage is the perfect way maximize small space. This is a great way to put away pillows or throws. Try finding a bench for a dining table that can fit household items inside. If your space is too small for a bench, look for side tables that work with the space.

Always remember it doesn’t take a lot of work to make a small space beautiful. Start brainstorming now so that you can be ready to use your outdoor retreat when the weather gets warmer!

Madisyn is a freelance writer and social media obsessed traveler based out of Toronto. Always looking for her next adventure but glued to her phone you can contact her at madi@therestlessworker.com or visit her at therestlessworker.com.


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Reno Expert: Picture-Perfect Patio

Reno Expert: Picture-Perfect Patio

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Reno Expert: Picture-Perfect Patio

by Jim Caruk

Create your own great outdoor space

With summer upon us, most of us are keen to spend as much time as possible outdoors. But is your own backyard an inviting oasis, or an overgrown disaster? If the ongoing real estate boom has taught us one thing, it’s that land is very valuable. As homeowners we should take advantage of every square foot we’ve got. Here are some ideas on how to turn your urban jungle into a slice of paradise.


The first factor to consider is what you like doing when you’re outside. Are you a gardener, a DIYer in need of a workshop, a consummate host looking for an outdoor entertaining area or, if you have the space for it, would your own private basketball net or tennis court be your dream use of the space?

My own backyard is built around an in-ground pool. Realtors and others will tell you that putting in a pool isn’t a good investment when it comes to resale value. But I wasn’t thinking about some future sale. I was interested in enjoying my house while I live in it. No need to drive north to a cottage when I can go for a dip at home.


Obviously, the size of your yard will be the main factor in determining how much—or little—you’re able to do. Case in point: when building permanent structures such as decks, sheds, and gazebos, there are usually setback restrictions—meaning they have to be a certain distance from the property line. (These projects may also require a building permit. Read “Deck Building Do’s and Don’ts” for more details.)



Canada’s extreme weather is hard on exterior building materials. Which is why the durability of a composite deck board such as those made by Trex is such a good investment.

Photography courtesy of Trex


The surrounding tree canopy also plays a role. If there aren’t many mature trees in your area you’ll likely need an umbrella or awning to shade your seating area. If you have lots of mature oaks or maples, you’ll have to consider lots of cleanup time for pools and patio areas. With evergreen trees, you’ll find yourself seasonally scooping up needles and pinecones. But they’re acidic, so you’ll have to carefully plan any other vegetation you plant to make sure they’re tolerant of that.


To make maximum use of the space, consider adding patio heaters to your plans. Options range from gas firepits to stylish lamp-style models. Either type can be directly plumbed to your household gas service, or run on refillable propane tanks.

Finally, don’t forget that old cliché about good fences making good neighbours. Most municipalities have restrictions on how tall a fence can be. If privacy is a key factor in your planning, build a fence with solid, overlapping boards that run the full height of the divider instead of the ubiquitous lattice-topped designs.

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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