photo: Tongue & Groove via Houzz
I have a thing for clever use of space. And since space will only continue to be at premium, I feel that the future of the entire interior design industry passes by making better use of smaller spaces.
It is more common to show a double-duty room inside a home which is why I please to have found an example done in a backyard. It feels right to use sand instead of a stone floor around the fire pit at this property next to water. Young kids can play near their parents during the day, while the parents are comfortably relaxing in the Adirondack chairs.
Rustic wooden birdfeeders are perfectly charming in a country garden, but they can ruffle the feathers of urban outdoor spaces with contemporary design leanings. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of modern, quirky feeders that are sure to have friends – both of the human and feathered variety – all a twitter. These stylish options are on the pricey side, but would make a unique gift for new homeowners feathering their nest.
Canopy Bird Feeder Series from StudioLicious
Though made-to-order in Canada, this series of feeders has more of a Scandinavian sensibility. Available in various shapes and stain colours.
J Schatz Egg Bird Feeders
Want to add a little pop art pizzazz to your backyard? These candy-coloured bird feeders by NYC designer J Schatz will look like jewellery amongst backyard foliage. Bonus: they’re squirrel proof! Available in 8 colours.
Glass Birdhouses from Eva Solo and aHa! Modern Living
There’s not a chance anyone will throw stones at these sculptural glass houses. Not only will they add sparkle to the backyard, it’s easy to see when these feeders need filling.
+ Canopy Bird Feeder Series from StudioLicious, from $52
+ J Schatz Egg Bird Feeder, from $135
+ Glass bird feeder from Eva Solo
+ Roost Utopia Birdhouses from aHa! Modern Living, $75
You do not need to have kids to appreciate the space planning of this backyard. It’s unexpected, fun and practical! One of the a founding principal of 3rd Uncle Design, the architect John Tong built a stage where his kids can sing, and watch or do clown shows. The stage platform could be repurposed for other uses.
City dwellers who become parents often deal with how to transform their home into a space that works for the entire family. The small footprint of a house in a city adds to the challenge. I know that figuring out where and how the kids will play at home could be overwhelming. This is a little bit how I feel right now. What encourage me is that I realized that you can’t anticipated what your kids will like when they get older. Putting too many constraints, limit your options and block your creativity. My advice is to keep things simple by looking for solutions suitable for a couple of years at a time.
For example, I keep a big empty space in the living room as a play area. I plan to add a play rug to delimitate the play area. It sets a boundary for your toddler, which limits the cutter to a specific zone. Plus, a carpet adds comfort if you have hardwood floor. Opting for a FLOR tile carpet provides a more grown-up look than using a play rug; especially if you plan to leave it in your living room all the time.
Yes, living in the city requires to be smarter about how you design and use your home. But the rewards of life in the city (easy access to museums, parks, festivals, restaurants, and more…) far outweigh the amount of hours lost in commuting. Until I found how to design our backyard, I will continue to surf the Web for inspiring urban family houses. A good starting point is to have a look at the pictures and learned the details of this great family house on Dwell magazine. Another well-thought urban family home is the Maison en U by architect Natalie Dionne, that is here in Montreal.
+ photos: Christopher Wahl for Dwell magazine
If you wish to grow your own vegetables this summer, remember that you increase your chances of success by planting your seeds in a raised garden bed. It is because raised beds provide better drainage. It is also easier on your back. A DIY tutorial from Sunset magazine even tells you how to drape the bird netting or row covers over your raised beds.
For a weekend project, you will have plenty of time to also build the perfect compost bin.
+ How to make the perfect raised bed – photo by Norm Plate for Sunset magazine
+ Build the perfect compost bin – photo by Andrew Drake for Sunset magazine
This summer home is heaven on Earth. I do not know which view I prefer between the bathroom or the outdoor wood-fired hot tub. This is the summer house of a new star in the Swedish stylist scene (according to Emmas designblog), Katarina Grundströmer.
Do not miss the rest of her summer home, it’s a place where it should be great to go every weekend.
+ photos: Sköna Hem
+ via Apartment Therapy San Francisco
For my monthly column on Style Sheet by HGTV Canada, I took a look at stunning, modern style swimming pools designed by architects. I would in heaven to get a pool like that in my backyard. Maybe one day, when we move to sunny California.
I also discussed the latest trends in pool equipments. There are a lot more options than in the past. It’s best to get informed before selecting which system would be best for you. I invite you to check my post on Style Sheet.
It is fun to play outside. And you do have to restrict your choices to outdoor games and sports. I have a thing for the classic games since people of all generations can play them. I found on Sunset magazines, an online guide to make your own:
+ Backyard Booce
+ Backyard Scrabble board
If you wish to bring the feeling of the beach in your backyard, you will definitively want to read those two articles:
+ How to Build a Beach in your Backyard
+ DIY Outdoor Shower
The Fermob catalogue sells a wonderful lifestyle. It is based on joie de vivre and accessibility with a modern version of classic pieces. The stylist does that but at the same time, they capture the garden furniture details. The brand cultivates a romantic view of the French lifestyle that is hard to resist.
You get a sense of well-being by looking at the pictures. It gives my ideas for planning a kids party or how to style my table for a weekend lunch by the lake. It is about taking time to relax with a good board game and enjoy a refreshing cocktails. So even if you do not need new outdoor furniture, you will get something out of flipping their online catalogue.
I like the perforated chairs. There is Bagatelle, a folding chair with a cute perforated back rest. If you prefer an armchair, consider Louvre which comes with a perforated seat and is stackable.
Several of their garden chairs and tables are either foldable or stackable. It comes handy if you wish to bring furniture at a picnic, for storage and to keep extra chairs or tables for when you host larger dinner parties.
The furniture made of steel, iron or aluminium is available in the 24 Fermob colors. All the colors are sublime but I have a thing for the verbena and aniseed green. New colors that work well together are fjork blue and paprika. Above, they mixed turquoise and orange.
Retailers across the U.S. and Alphaplantes in Montreal sell Fermob garden furniture.
+ Fermob USA
This feels truly like Hollywood, on a good way. Imagine how easy it should be to throw a party with such dramatic views as your backdrop. Yes, I am in awe with that Sunset Plaza house designed by Assembledge.
The pool area and the upstairs terrace were designed for someone who likes to host pool party. They are ideas to steal here if you are redesigning your backyard. I am particularly fond of the long benches. It is not hard to build something similar. You can always reduce the cost by opting for cheaper type of wood that you will paint.
I am sure that I saw the Sunset Plaza house used in a movie or a TV show. Do you recall which?
+ photos: Assembledge
Jesper Larsson listed the swimming pond as one of his 2009 Design Top 5 trends on MoCo Loco. Still, finding a local expert and vendor in Canada or the United States for these chemical free swimming pools may be hard.
You must be aware that a natural swimming pond requires slightly more maintenance in time than a regular swimming pools. If you are interested by a natural swimming pond, read first those articles: Continue Reading
If there is a place in your house where you can infuse an array of colors is your backyard. You use mostly in sunny days and at night under candle lights.
Most manufacturer of outdoor tableware and accessories produce their products in 3 to 5 colors. Take advantage of that fact and mix colors. The key is to create a sense of repetitions. You can accomplish that through different methods.
Here is a technique that produces a sophisticated look. Select a pattern with four or five distinctive main colors as the starting point and select the rest of the accessories or furniture in solid colors of the main colors in the pattern. This is what happen with the sun loungers and the paper lanterns.
Getting the items in all colors will create a sense of continuity as long as there is always the same number of items per color. To make it easy for you if you are unsure of what goes with what, look at color packs.
I found all these affordable products that could transform your backyard in a festive oasis at UK-retailer Next Home. I wish they have a store in North America because I would visit them often.
+ Small wood parasol, director’s chairs and Panama dining table parasol £30, chairs and table £50 each
+ Mesh lounger and Floral Lounger £25 each
+ Patterned Paper Lanterns £10 for set of 3 – two floral and one green
+ Plain Paper Lanterns £10 for set of 3, orange, pink, green
+ Bright Mini Lanterns £12 for 4 color pack
+ Plastic tableware
+ Glass Votive Tealight Set £12 for 4 color pack