By CHRIS ROBERTS and BRIGID ELMY
Days are getting longer and temperatures are slowly starting warm up – spring is definitely in the air!
Now is the time to start planning for outdoor activities and entertaining. With travel and entertaining indoors likely being off the table for this summer we will mostly be hosting our friends and family outdoors.
Last year saw a buying frenzy like never before on items like barbecues, outdoor furniture and also on renovations. Lumber stores were sold out of treated wood and cedar for the first time ever. Careful and early planning means you can get a great outdoor space and beat the rush on buying.
Treating your outdoor spaces just as you would those inside the home is important.
Here are a few tips to help you create a beautiful space to spend the next several months in.
Make your outdoor living space an extension of your indoor one. I think that we will all be spending more time outdoors in the future, even when the pandemic restrictions end so investing in the design and purchases is smart.
Create different zones or areas depending on activities:
Food prep area – most of us will have a barbecue, but adding in some extra prep space or storage for items is a bonus. Think of it like your countertop and cupboards in the kitchen. Having some extra surface like a sideboard or cart will help when preparing your food
Lounge Space – likely the most often used area, invest in some good quality and comfortable furniture here. Fabrics that are resistant to moisture and won’t fade in direct sunlight are key.
Set up this space just as you would your living room. Sofa, lounge chairs, coffee and side tables. A fire table has become a really popular component, they were sold out by last fall, and doubles as a coffee table if it comes with a cover over the burner area. Add lanterns, accent cushions and an outdoor rug here to finish off this space. Potted plants either in large floor planters or on side tables are a nice touch and can soften up all those hard surfaces.
Dining area – think about creating a place where you can sit for longer than a short meal. Choose comfortable seating and a table large enough to hold several people and you’ll be happy with that for years to come. Bench seating is a great and flexible way to accommodate many guests. Add cushions here that will allow people to sit back and relax after the meal is finished.
An additional surface here or storage is a great idea too – this could blend into the food prep area. The sideboard piece can be used to serve food or double up as an outdoor bar, with storage inside for outdoor dishes and drinkware. There is a huge selection of non breakable dinnerware now. Choose ones that look great and are dishwasher safe for easy maintenance. You do not want to be trying to clean up broken glass on a deck or patio.
Play Space – for kids or adults. An area to do an activity is a great idea. Lawn bowling kits and any other outdoor activity sets are a fantastic idea to pass the time. Have a few options on hand – an outdoor tournament can be a fantastic way to have socially distanced fun.
Storage Shed – this is key in our smaller yards, and for those many of us who don’t have garages. Buy or build one large enough to accommodate bikes, garden equipment and all other outdoor needs. Be sure to research city regulations to ensure it fits within those. Use durable materials that can be painted or stained to coordinate with your house style. Add planter boxes or landscape around these so it becomes a seamless addition. Some people are even using these outdoor sheds as gathering spaces for when it rains or is colder. Think a clubhouse for adults!
Fencing or Decking – be sure to maintain these carefully each year. Cleaning and retreating wood or other materials to ensure they are protected from the elements will extend their life. Avoid power washers on wood as it opens up the grain and can actually cause more harm. Choose finishes that have some style or colour and will add to your space – these are the backdrop walls and floors and can help create a cohesive look.
Covering – an umbrella for sunny areas to give some shade is a great idea. Choose a good quality one that is large enough and has a sturdy base. Something that has ability to tilt and pivot is also a great option for different times of day. A pergola or awning can also be a great idea to provide shade or protection from rain. Adding in height is also a great way to provide interest to your space and a covering can help create a cozy space.
As Canadians we really enjoy our outdoor seasons so planning ahead to create a space to enjoy outside makes a lot of sense.