This year, consider your outdoor living area as an extension of  you –  set the tone for your summer and embrace the changes that may come.

We often forget to stop and smell the roses, to really enjoy our own space and own it. Aside from our outdoors serving as a personal getaway, we also long for the days of summer when every day was an opportunity to connect with family, friends and neighbours and enjoy the sunshine. For inspiration go to our Pinterest board Be Our Guest. 

Comfort Zone

It’s all well and good for furniture to look great, but really, what good is it if it’s not comfortable to sit in? Think plush, think cushy, think making people question how badly they really need to go the washroom for fear of losing their seat.

Bar Shed  One of the coolest trends to come out this year is the idea of of turning a shed into a cute, sit-down bar. Build yourself one of these and you’ll quickly become the most popular neighbour on the block.

Outdoor Living/Dining Room Why be indoors when you can be outside? It’s for this very reason that the trend of outdoor living rooms and outdoor kitchens continues to take off.  Outdoor kitchens need to be functional and positioned well in relation to the rest of your outdoor setup. The kitchen can be simple, with just a BBQ and a prep area, or get a little more involved by integrating a fridge, stove, sink and storage area. Outdoor kitchens usually work best when built into a corner or against a wall. Keep in mind you’ll want room for a seating area that is close to the kitchen so you aren’t carrying food long distances.

Outdoor living rooms are simple to create and doesn’t have to break the budget, as long as you have some key components – an outdoor rug, a table and chairs – and you are well on your way.

Lounge Chairs/Hammocks Is there anything more relaxing then spending an afternoon curled up in a hammock, reading a sunny day away? Guests will be ‘“paper/rock/scissor-ing” for those coveted comfy spots.

Ambiance

One of the most memorable aspects of any room is the atmosphere…it’s all about setting the mood for the intention of the space. Any space can be easily modified by adding visual elements and such as lighting, art or fire. As well, guests can easily be motivated to participate in any space by adding a few well placed bocce balls or horseshoes etc…

Décor Incorporating your artistic style indoors comes naturally, so why not extend that creativity into the outdoors as well? Aside from purchasing outdoor art décor there is seemingly an endless amount of ways to express  and integrate your art. Whether it be using a tree stump, fence boards or patio stones as a canvas or putting together unique floral arrangements to showcase your newfound love of Ikebana – whatever your preference, it is sure to be a conversation piece.

Lighting Nothing sets the mood indoors or out quite like lighting. Want a magical feel? String some well-placed string lights or candles in mason jars suspended from a tree or pergola. Highlight a curving path or showcase your prized vegetation with solar lights. However you choose to work lights into your landscape, just know that it definitely adds a little something special when you go about it in a creative manner. 

Let There Be Fire You know summer has arrived when the smell of crackling bonfire fills the air. While we need to be mindful of the city bylaws, there are still ways to incorporate fire elements in your outdoor living space without having a roaring bonfire.  Ceramic firepots add atmosphere, while producing smokeless flames. Tiki torches and candles are other great ways to include some fire features in your outdoor landscape.

Leisure Want to be the coolest kid on the block? Incorporate an element of competition by setting up backyard gaming areas. You can go old school and break out the bocce, cornhole or lawn darts, or you can get creative and build your own backyard games. This can be as easy as spray painting a twister board on your grass, or constructing a giant Kerplunk game. Let your inner child come up with something wonderful and make it happen!

It’s in the Water

For some it’s a form of therapy, for others it serves a practical function such as a source of water for our animal friends or for purely cosmetic reasons. For me – it’s a way to unwind and inject yet another textured element into my ever-growing landscape.

Fountain Originally used for bathing and washing as well as the main water source – fountains have long held a mystical quality to them. Take the Trevi fountain in Rome, Italy for example. Many have paid homage to the fountain by tossing a coin (right hand over the left shoulder) in the hopes of returning to the magical city.

There is no denying that the musical sound of water trickling into the basin is hard to beat when it comes to soothing and quieting the mind. Incorporating this water feature is easy enough to do and the scale is up to you. Fountains range from a delicate table top ornament to that of Trevi proportions.

Ponds In some cultures ponds are considered sacred whether they be used for stock, bathing or ornamentation. In Europe, during medieval times, castles and monasteries would populate them with fish as is still common today – esecially in Japan where they commonly house Koi.

Backyard ponds are relatively easy to make, and a simple one can be completed in a day. It should always have an element that moves the water so as not to attract mosquitos.

Waterfalls Being in Niagara, we are no stranger to impressive waterfalls, and while we can’t have quite the same thundering water effect in our backyards, we can surely install a more peaceful and serene version that will make lounging in the backyard feel like a vacation in and of itself. Your backyard waterfall can range from simple to quite complex, but if simple is more your style, you can install a waterfall in less than a day. Online guides abound, but check out familyhandyman.com or youtube.com to get you started.

Custom Spaces

Everyone likes to have their own little getaway, a place for just them (that they might allow other people if they are lucky). Whether this space focuses on a love of reading, a love of crafting or a simply a place to hide away, run with it and make it yours!

Pergolas Made out of a variety of different materials, most often wood, these shade providers  are usually decorated with some sort of climbing vine that contributes to the aesthetic of the arbour. Popular climbing vines include wisteria (though this takes at least seven years to grow and bloom), honeysuckle, clematis, morning glory and ivy. They can be built over eating areas, hot tubs, etc and are a great way to customize and set apart an area while providing relief from the sun. They can be purchased pre-made or if you are handy, you can construct one yourself.

Privacy Screening With houses being built closer together and some recent housing suffering from a lack of greenery, it can be necessary to incorporate screening to temporarily provide some privacy. There are many varied options – screens can be suspended from overhead structures, they can be self standing, folding or even a vertical wall made up of plants and flowers. Pinterest is a great place to start if you are looking for inspiration the choices are endless. Check out or board for some of our favourites.

Tree Forts When you think of tree forts, you may think of a rickety wooden structure with a “no girls allowed” signed nailed haphazardly outside the door. But these structures don’t have to be just for kids. Why not build yourself a cozy reading nook in a tree, or construct a shed that serves as a little getaway in your own backyard?  Whether you want a stargazing platform, a wobbly bridge, or a paint studio, let your imagination run wild! Things to consider when choosing a tree: look for branch thickness, tree damage and access if a proper support system can be put in place.