Backyards
Apr 24, 2014

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

By: Jennifer Hughes
Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis Author: Style At Home

Backyards
Apr 24, 2014

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

By: Jennifer Hughes

This petite English-style garden in Toronto's east end is perfect for a relaxed yet sophisticated family hangout.

 

It's a good thing that homeowner and decorator Christine Hanlon's kids, Sophie, 9, and Henry, 6, love to garden alongside their mom. Over the past six years, Christine and her husband, Andrew Brady, have turned their formerly bare and grassy 30-by-50-foot Toronto backyard into a verdant English-style garden, reducing the total lawn area by more than half. "It was a purely selfish decision," admits Christine, who also removed a sandbox. While some kids might protest, Christine and Andrew's have been bitten by the gardening bug. "They have their own little tools and gloves, and are really starting to love it," she says. "And there's still enough space for games of soccer or to put out a waterslide on hot summer days."

Plenty of grown-up fun happens here, too, when the couple entertains on the spacious backyard deck. With new sliding doors that lead from the kitchen to outside, and a pergola topped with lattice to help diffuse the sun's strong rays on the west-facing deck, "It really feels like an outdoor room," says Christine. Wanting to keep the overall look soft and serene, she had the deck and pergola stained in an opaque pale grey tone, the perfect complement to the outdoor resin wicker furniture. Generous lounge seating on one half of the deck, plus a dining table that seats up to eight people on the other, means the family's living quarters are substantially bigger when the weather is balmy.
 

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Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Backyard deck

Grey resin wicker furniture stands up to harsh Canadian weather conditions, and is sturdy and stylish. “I deliberately included lots of seating so that when we have guests there’s a comfortable spot for everyone,” says homeowner and Style at Home contributing design editor Christine Hanlon. The deck, pergola and shed were stained in an opaque grey to create a unified scheme.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Table for eight

Up to eight people can dine on one side of the backyard deck. The table's glass top is perfect for outdoor entertaining because it can easily be wiped clean.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Tabletop accents

Stones are not only a great natural touch but they also act as table napkin weights when the forecast calls for a windy day. In the centre of the table sits a pot of white petunia flowers that make for a casual yet chic centrepiece. 

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Table setting

Pretty patterned napkins, gold cutlery and custom place cards (made from shipping labels, velvet ribbon and corks) lend a charming vibe to the table setting.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Outdoor drapery

Weather-resistant drapery lends privacy and a sense of enclosure, adding to the feeling that the backyard deck is simply an extension of the indoors.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Backyard path

A bucolic flagstone path leads from the deck to the shed. Strings of lights casually hung along the pergola cast a warm glow in the evening.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis

Garden shed

On the backyard fence, a salvaged fountain overflows with delicate botanical blooms near the garden shed.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Virginia Macdonald Credits: Style at Home

 

 

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Outdoor living: Casual backyard oasis