How to transition your backyard, deck or balcony for colder weather

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In the early days of the pandemic, Toronto designer Sarah Kinleyside found herself at home with an eight-month-old son and a career that suddenly took off as her television show, HGTV Canada backyard makes, was on hiatus.

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Like many of us, he felt lost and purposeless. “It was the most upsetting time,” says Kinleyside, who remembers well enough walking around her tiny semi-detached house and wondering, “What am I going to do with myself?”

Then, she looked into her upscale backyard, a 1,200-square-foot space she and her husband had overlooked for years. The pandemic had given him time to consider his backyard. “Instead of looking sore, I suddenly saw it as a blank canvas where I could create something beautiful that could act as an extension to the main floor of our home,” she says. .

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He got the job done and transformed his yard into a series of separate living “rooms” or zones—a space for lounging, dining, and barbecuing—along with toddler Jack’s play. She added a deck, a stone patio, raised perennial beds, and a garage that looks like a cool studio space. In short, it became the family’s favorite place to relax, unwind and be entertained.

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According to insurance company Aviva Canada, who renovated backyards, decks and balconies last year, “if COVID taught us anything it was to appreciate the outdoor spaces we had access to,” according to Kinleyside, Canada’s 17 percent of people. To give yourself more entertaining space and breathing room.

Now with winter, she’s busy making the changes and adjustments needed to carry this cherished outdoor living area through the shoulder season so that she and her husband can sit outside on cold evenings, catch up on their day and have a great time. Share a hot toddy or a hot, mulled wine.

Extending the vibrancy of outdoor spaces in autumn – and even winter – has become an integral part of outdoor landscapes and design. And there are many ways to heat an outdoor space through lighting, fire and water features, curtains, spas, decorative panels, fabrics and accessories.

The first thing customers do is to “think function before form,” says Burt Miner, design and sales manager at Ottawa-based Jonathan Robert Landscape. He recommends carefully evaluating how you want to use your outdoor space and then, with careful placement of landscaping, lighting, covered areas (pergolas) and furniture, it is possible to create an all-season vibe.

“A growing segment of our customers want to cover an outdoor kitchen or outdoor living room with a heater or fire pit,” says Minor. “Their inspiration is simple. They want to use the outdoors year-round.”

With that goal in mind, Natalia David, trends and design manager at Home Depot Canada, built a deck in the back of her Toronto home during the pandemic and is now considering adding a hot tub. But she says the easiest (and least expensive) way to make your outdoor area feel cozy is plush, but durable all-season furnishings, cushions with slipcovers (so you can throw them in the wash when you need them), and more. Throw away the blanket. Ideally placed in a basket by the seating area. David also likes to place decorative lanterns on tables or hang from trees to provide a soft light that instantly warms up an outdoor space.

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Kinleyside is also a big fan of discreet, indirect lighting. “There’s nothing worse than a motion-detector light that when someone moves, it keeps moving. I prefer to have wall sconces on a fence or garage that glow up and down rather than out.” String lights Or repurposed Christmas lights are another, cost-effective option that instantly makes the outdoors more festive and a little bit magical.

“One trick from my interior design background is to bring pendant lighting into the seating area to make it feel more intimate.” For her own project she bought a woven basket—”You can get them at Homesense for $15 or $20,” she says—and cut a hole in the bottom of it. “I flipped it upside down and hung it from an outdoor-rated lamp cord. The basket lets in a lot of light and is a great trick for adding personality and ambiance to the backyard.”

And one of her favorite ways to (literally) take the heat up a notch is to set up a fire feature, which, in the case of her backyard reno, is to invest in a propane fire pit made from lightweight concrete that’s so sleek and simple. Looks like a piece of art. “In cities like Toronto we are not allowed wood-burning fire pits, so this was a way to create a communal area where our friends and family often gather after dinner.

“And I made my own table top that turns it into a coffee table. Again it’s all about multi-tasking and making the most of everything you’ve invested in your home—inside or out.” “

Apartment and condo residents can extend the life of their outdoor area by hanging curtains that act as a backdrop to make a balcony or patio cozy as well as provide protection from the wind. “If your building allows it, I like to hang a sturdy bleached white cloth,” says Kinleyside, who attaches the fabric to aircraft cables with suspended clips, readily available at any hardware store. .

David says the pandemic has taught us to enjoy life. “Outdoor life – no matter what the temperature outside – is being embraced in a way we’ve never seen before. Scandinavians and Norwegians have long understood its importance. Now North Americans are adopting it as well.”

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outdoor essentials

Add to the vibrancy of your outdoor spaces with Scandinavian-inspired outdoor furniture and comfortable accessories.

Decorative Screens, starting at $750 for each 3-foot-by-6-foot panel, ikonikstyle.ca.

Lübeck Slate Gray Sectional, $2,799, article.com.

Belmont Firepit (gas or propane), $3,595, dekko.com.

Nude Chunky Knit Throw, $39.99, Homesense.ca.

Amphora Collection Pedestal Light, $3,105, hollacecluny.ca.

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