Tag Archives: Outdoor spaces

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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Backyard life, outdoor spaces have the comfort of indoor living

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Backyard life, outdoor spaces have the comfort of indoor living

Outdoor spaces have the comfort of indoor living, with the added allure of being outside

Backyard life isn’t what it used to be. Once upon a time, a couple of aluminum folding chairs and a hibachi was an enviable suburban oasis. But that’s all changed now thanks to the innovations in solar fabrics, outdoor materials, digital printing and computer driven design. The hibachi has been replaced with a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, and the folding chairs have been replaced with substantial furniture pieces that echo the look and feel of your living room.

Pool Party

In the past, the backyard typically consisted of a garden where more vegetables grew than flowers. Whatever “yard’ remained was the grass where the kids and dog could play while mom watched from the kitchen sink window. There was a picnic table in the event the family wanted to eat outside in the warmer months. Then suddenly, the affordability of a pool in the backyard leapt from the most affluent to the middle classes. This prompted the need for landscaping, first to secure the pool, but then because friends and family congregated there. The fence around the pool evolved into the addition of large decks, paving stones, barbecues, sun bathing areas and the like.

Outdoor Lifestyle With Indoor Benefits

Suddenly, people were spending more time in their yards with friends and family, which prompted the need for a bigger barbecue, bigger outdoor table, and more room to lounge. As a result, the quality and comfort of the furniture needed to improve. We transitioned from furniture that was temporary, foldable and easily stored, to more solid pieces where the base structure stayed outside all year, while cushions got stored away. In those days, it was essential to store cushions; in fact if they were left in the rain, it could take days for them to dry out again.

With cushions spending more time outside, a UV-resistant fabric called Sunbrella became an essential element when choosing your outdoor cushions; that didn’t, however, help with foam issue. It took some time to create “flow-through foam,” which allows cushions to get wet in the rain, but still be useable in a short timeframe. The combination of fabric and foam ensures homeowners feel comfortable leaving furniture exposed to the elements with very little concern. It only needs to be stored away for the winter.

Full Kitchen

People are now creating outdoor living spaces that mirror their indoor living, starting with the kitchen. The outdoor kitchen is very similar to the indoor one, with granite countertops, outdoor refrigeration, drawers for specific barbecue tools, and a sink and faucet. The hibachi has been replaced by sophisticated gas appliances. The indoor kitchen may still supply the chef with herbs and spices, as well as an endless array of outdoor-friendly tableware, but the two spaces are essentially the same.

Sail On

Now that we are using outdoors as we do the indoors, the desire for more comfortable, solid furniture has grown. We spend hours sitting outdoors, which can be uncomfortable on furniture built for short-term use. The ideal solution is solid yet comfortable outdoor furniture that could stay in place all-year long. For offseason, element-resistant pieces, the industry looked to the marine world for inspiration, which has been faced with a similar challenge for hundreds of years. This industry uses wood that is covered in many coats of Varathane, aluminum frames, marine-grade vinyl and Sunbrella fabrics. The storage issue remained, however. Perhaps, it can be solved in the same way it is on boats? When you buy outdoor furniture, you can also purchase marine-grade covers as well. The covers fit like a glove and protect the furniture completely throughout the winter months.

In essence, we are creating backyard spaces with furniture that looks and functions like our indoor furniture. In fact, many people decide not to buy the outdoor covers and move the furniture to the basement to replicate the same room there. No one would ever suspect the furniture was designed for outdoor use.

The addition of outdoor lighting, area rugs and accessories, means that people like me, not only do “IN-terior design but now also “OUT-erior design. The rules are exactly the same, except we never need to select a ceiling colour.

Extensive experience in residential, commercial and hospitality design. Principal of design firm Grafus Design Build, Glen Peloso is frequently in the media as design expert on the Marilyn Denis Show, and CHCH Morning Live, a contributor to Global Morning News, Breakfast Television Toronto, past series with HGTV and the Food Network, along with Radio and Blogs. Reporting on design trends from around the world, his work has been featured in various print publications throughout North America. Twitter: glenpeloso Instagram: glenpelosodesigner

Photography Courtesy Of Century One, Four Hands


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