Outdoor living: How to create an outdoor room
Inspired by the traditional courtyards of Europe, this look is elegant and tailored and possesses old-world charm and romantic details. Think formal clipped hedges, ornate fountains, wrought-iron garden benches and stone pathways. When choosing furniture for your space, look for sets with neoclassical motifs, such as X-backs or scrolls. Accessorize with clay planters filled with boxwood and ivy, hurricane lanterns and whimsical elements like garden fairies or gnomes.
Create the space
With only four short months – at most – of warm weather, we Canadians know how to delight in every outdoor minute, but do we take advantage of every inch of outdoor space, too? No matter the size, think of your yard as an extension of the indoors. Picture the components that make up your living and dining rooms: floors, walls, furniture, rugs and decorative
accessories. But how do you create these spaces under the sun? Read on to find out what you need to build the ultimate backyard retreat. Restoration Hardware (drapery), $119 - $169.
Questions to ask before you buy
1 Consider your needs and lifestyle. How do you use your outdoor space? Do you entertain outside during the summer? Do you have kids?
2 Be realistic about the space you have. Do you have a large backyard or a small balcony? Do you have enough room for a complete outdoor living and dining room set or just a small bistro table and chairs?
3 Go out with a plan – make a list. What do you need? How much are you willing to spend? Are you starting from scratch or updating what you already have.
Structure and flooring options
Start with a low-maintenance floor of stone, interlocking brick or pea gravel to define the dimensions of your outdoor room. (Remember to place black landscape fabric under your floor to keep weeds from sprouting through.) Once the flooring is installed, include elements like a pergola, gazebo or even outdoor-friendly drapery to add shade and more structure to the space.
In European courtyards, sculptural topiaries and hedges more than make up for the lack of colour and blooms. Clipped evergreens, such as boxwood and cedar, provide year-round interest. Faux flower options are readily available and mix seamlessly with the real stuff to offer a great low-maintenance alternative. Incorporate a few small pots of lavender here and there to add delicate wisps of colour and pleasing fragrance. Real Canadian Superstore (topiary), check local store for pricing.
Styling tip: Faux boxwood is a great low-maintenace choice!
With X-back frames and curved edges dominate in the neoclassical courtyard. Wrought iron is an attractive choice for outdoor furniture. It’s also substantial and weighty, so it may not be well suited to all spaces. Try any of these materials for your outdoor room as they do equally well at weathering the storms.
One of the best materials for outdoor furniture, teak is durable and won’t rot or mildew. Over time, it will turn to a natural grey finish, which is part of its beauty. The original colour can be restored by applying teak oil.
The perfect metal for outdoor furniture, it’s lightweight yet durable, requires little maintenance and doesn’t rust. It’s usually powder coated for strength.
Offers the look of the real thing without the maintenance. Typically woven around a metal frame, this man-made material is strong and colourfast.
A delight for the space (and budget) conscious, plastic furniture is often foldable, stackable and lightweight. Available in many styles and colours, it’s washable and easy to care for, making it a low-maintenance choice.
Make the most of summer with our best outdoor living ideas.