Tag Archives: outdoor


Summer lovin and the livin’ is easy

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Summer lovin and the livin’ is easy

Since the beginning of time, humans have been cooking food over an open fire. There’s nothing like the taste of a freshly grilled steak or salmon smoked to perfection. The fire sources that we now congregate around have been tailored to fit in urban living environments, as well as for ease of operation.

Seasonal sensations

And while our seasons may be short, we Canadians know how to make the best of each, and every, one of them. Come summer, we’re not only firing up the grill, but we’re fixing feasts in fully loaded outdoor kitchens, paired with incredible furniture. From impromptu picnics to appetizers on the patio, we’re eking out every possible warm weather moment, which is why outdoor furnishings and appliances are the fastest growing categories in the home improvement industry.

Do it in style

Outdoor kitchens can be as functional, and as impressive, as you want them to be with cocktail prep areas, built-in grills, weather-resistant cabinetry and refrigerators. Gone are the fold-up chairs and the wobbly table. Instead, cosy seating areas are not only comfortable, but well designed for group gatherings and conversation. Add an outdoor carpet and you have an alfresco vignette that may be more appealing than your living room.

Photography, Gillian Jackson

Design details

Similar to planning an indoor kitchen, you’ll want to customize an outdoor one that suits your cooking preferences and entertaining needs. As an extension of your indoor living environment, consider an outdoor layout that will complement your landscaped backyard or a rooftop patio.

Bells and whistles

As part of the outdoor plan, consider where you’ll require running water, gas lines and electrical wiring. Multiple stove top elements and varied grill levels can help to facilitate cooking different food items at once. Cabinetry options are stylish, functional and weather resistant. Counter tops come in natural or man-made materials, and can be designed to include smokers or other specialty appliances. Refrigerator drawers, and separate, temperature controlled bar fridges, eliminate the need to run back and forth into the house.

Photography, (right top and middle) courtesy of Outdoor Kitchens and Cabinetry

European influences

Our mood is boosted when we’re outdoors. As soon as the weather warms up, restaurants set up their patios, and patrons spend leisurely hours soaking up the sunshine. When we envision outdoor dining, we conjure up visions of a long wooden table in Tuscany ladened with fresh food, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. With Italy in mind, consider an outdoor brick oven, complete with chimney, to make handcrafted pizzas.

Let there be fire

In the centre of it all is the fire pit. This, too, has evolved from a circle of rocks to a design feature. No matter how it’s fuelled, people naturally gather around a fire. Its hypnotic dance is comforting and meditative. Intimate conversations and story telling are natural conclusions to a perfect summer evening.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. janelockhart.com


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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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Product Showcase: Indoor/Outdoor

Product Showcase – a focus on indoor/outdoor furnishings

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Product Showcase – a focus on indoor/outdoor furnishings

Hundreds of top grain leather options

The Gallin stationary chair has hundreds of top grain leather options. It comes with spring down-cushions, an eight-way hand tie seat construction and a tight button back. Take a ride and visit Canada’s largest leather showroom. It’s worth the drive to Acton.

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Beautiful solution

Aura deck and balcony tiles are a high-quality and beautiful solution to update concrete patios, balconies, porches, and any other surface that is in need of a little TLC. They are inspired by true wood products, and their natural colour variance, wood grain texture and streaking give them a realistic wood feel.


Make the most of summer

Make the most out of summer weather and your outdoor space with this attractive seating group from DOT Furniture. The aluminum frame showcases a contemporary “string” arm detail and coordinating olefin cushions. Add this set to your backyard patio for the perfect place to enjoy after-work drinks with friends, family board game nights, or al fresco snacks.


Sleek glass heater

With a sleek, Schott Nextrema black glass finish, the DIR Series indoor/outdoor infrared heaters look beautiful and produce low visible light as they heat. Built using extruded aluminum and made for all climates and conditions, DIR heaters are designed to enhance comfort and extend outdoor living throughout the year.


Lifestyle objects that create a stir

Looking for a table with a lot of personality? The ADAN Collection from Vondom in Spain provides a shape faceted like a diamond yet responsibly made from recycled resin. This multifunctional architecture piece can be used as a seat or side table. ARD Outdoor offers lifestyle objects that create a stir, fitting in with any style and made from materials that allow for both outdoor and indoor use.


Adding a creative twist

The new FÖRNYAD collection from IKEA is all about introducing fun into our homes. Last year, IKEA joined forced with Sarah Andelman (Creative Director of Collette*) and Darcel Disappoints designer Craig Redman to create an exciting line which embraces a creative twist into our workspaces and home. The collection highlights simple shapes which includes an egg, one eye, and a monocle which is repeated throughout the entire product line. IKEA also features the iconic KLIPPAN sofa, the side table or LED work lamp which includes wireless charging.


Best sleep possible

The Polysleep mattress, Canada’s best mattress- in-a-box, offers consumers the ultimate quality mattress at the most affordable price in its category. Pushing its limits to offer customers the best sleep possible thanks to its unique support frame, liquid repellent cover and antimicrobial hybrid foam, Polysleep is revolutionizing our perception of mattresses all over North America.


Help plants thrive

Delta Faucet Canada has some great ideas on how to care for your plant babies using the Touch technology, TempSense Indicator and H2Okinetic hand shower that provide great mess-free and stress-free solutions to help your plants thrive.



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6 ways to enjoy your backyard this winter

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6 ways to enjoy your backyard this winter

We may live in the Great White North, but far too many backyard-loving Canucks eagerly countdown to 30C days before enjoying their outdoor oasis. In actuality, there’s far more outdoor time to be had before the ice melts. It’s time to stop giving the winter months the cold shoulder. Even in Canada there is a way to make the most of your exterior living space in every season.

Pulling from the National Home Show’s list of experts in everything from decor aesthetics and technology to horticulture, here are six ways to use your backyard in any of the four seasons:

Light it up

On chilly nights, investing in a chic firepit or heat lamp can help extend your outdoor time. Footpath lights and twinkling patio sting lights add additional ambiance and just enough luminesce to keep things from getting too dark on shorter days, and in the summer will help with pesky mosquitoes. But remember less is more. Don’t feel the need to over illuminate, as too many lights may ruin the view of a perfect starlit night sky.

Bring the indoors, out

For those who love to lounge but are worried about the elements damaging furniture, making the investment into water resistant fabrics for couches, cushions and throws from retailers like Andrew Richard Designs will be what will be what keeps things homey and fuss-free. You can even find fabulous, low maintenance outdoor accessories such as rugs that will help tie everything together.

And, don’t forget that your living room isn’t the only space you can take outside. Mancaves, playrooms and even office spaces now offer outdoor weather-resistant materials that will withstand the elements. Fully heated and lit, these spaces can have all the comforts of their indoor counterparts with an added outdoor wow.

Do more than grill and chill

Your senses are heightened in the cold, so what better time to throw some savoury bites on your outdoor grill and get your guest’s mouths watering. Pizza ovens and smokers are often overlooked champions for outdoor entertaining, not to mention an outdoor rated sink, fridge, dishwasher and even a beer tap like those at TA Appliance. No more need to rush back indoors when entertaining.

Call the landscape experts

Even when the greenery of your backyard is covered in snow, it may still be time to call in the experts. Landscaping can be used for so much more than giving your grass a trim. Peter Bonanno of Curb Appeal says bringing in an outdoor expert in the off season can help better determine how to best define and split up a space. Without any clutter of pre-set furniture, you’ll get a better picture of how to maximize your square-footage and determine what you want to use your backyard for. Landscaping can help define exterior areas into separate “rooms” like the inside of your home, leading to a better utilized outdoor area.

Embrace the elements

Patio enclosures are a perfect way to take in all the elements you love and close yourself off from the undesirables: wind, rain and pesky insects. From sleek retractable glass walls to more traditional screened in porches, you’ll be covered no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

Make a spa day, every day

Being outdoors shouldn’t be all about roughing it. Investing in your backyard is an investment in you. Not just a 1970s fad, hot tubs and jacuzzis have come a long way. From swim spas to saunas and so much more, you can find an option to pamper yourself that will fit in just about any backyard, and at every price point.

If you’re looking for even more inspiring home and garden ideas, and to see these backyard tips come to life, visit 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.



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