Great Outdoor Spaces

The Rooftop Patio
The dream: A place to relax outdoors to read a book, share a glass of wine or a meal.
The reality: A 900 sq-ft rooftop patio plus a 200 sq-ft rooftop deck over the garage.
The designer: Susan King and Barb Galipeau of Style de Vie, Oakville

Homeowner and interior designer Susan King bought what was essentially a teardown in downtown Oakville. The property, zoned residential/commercial, was rebuilt with a three-story detached home ““ that went right to the edges of the property. That meant there was no outdoor space that had to be cared for, or to take up precious weekends with mowing and weeding.

It also meant no patio to enjoy a summer evening.

“I wanted sunshine. I wanted to be able to see the filtered light from the trees,” says King, “the home is built right to the property line so the only outdoor living spaces are the two decks.”

The two decks offer more than enough outdoor living space with combined real estate of more than 1,100 sq-ft, and the decks are completely serene and private perched high above street level among the trees.

Planned by King and her business partner in Style de Vie Interiors & Design Management, Barb Galipeau, the space was planned as a private escape for the homeowners.

“It's amazing to have an evening dinner out there. Often I'll cook and send it up the elevator and then you're sitting there under the stars,” she says. “It's totally private and quiet. It's so private up there because I'm above all the other houses.”

During construction King was initially considering a composite product for the decking, but was then introduced to tiger wood.

“It's an exotic wood with a membrane underneath because it's a flat roof. I was looking at a composite, and then someone suggested the tiger wood. It's more of a green wood, it's manufactured and grown specifically for decking. It just has a UV coating and it looks just like the hardwood in my house.”

The deck boards are not nailed down, but clipped into place so they can be removed if there is damage, or to clean out the drains that are hidden beneath the decking.

King and Galipeau finished the space with lush potted ““ and easy to care for ““ green plants and shots of bright orange in plush cushions.

“The colour scheme goes with the brick, and the orange is so hot right now.”

Is anything missing? “It's perfect. But, I might put a bar up there.”

The Outdoor Family Room
The dream: Better use of the yard and to utilize an unused “dead” space.
The reality: A complete outdoor living space that matches the original Credit Valley Flagstone used in the existing pool installation.
The designer: Cedar Springs Landscape Group

The homeowners of this Oakville property were faced with a landscape that already had a pool, but left the remaining real estate of the yard broken into blocks of unused space.

Adrian Bartels of Cedar Springs Landscape Group designed a solution that utilized the entire space well, and was able to match the Credit Valley flagstone used in the original landscaping.

“We replaced an old wooden deck with a Credit Valley flagstone patio, and added a raised planter as well as some garden walls to tie in the old landscaping with the new,” he says.

The clients also wanted to incorporate an outdoor kitchen, so a counter was created from the same flagstone that houses the barbecue and storage space, as well as lighting so it is still easy to use when the days grow shorter.

“We used the same flagstone on the built-in kitchen, but we ground down and buffed the surface to make a very smooth countertop.”

One corner of the yard boasts one of Cedar Springs' trademark pavilions with a built-in fireplace.

“We love building these pavilions. It's really popular to have the outdoor couches now with the cushions. Having the roof means you don't need to move things inside when it rains. Plus, you can have lighting, sound and a ceiling fan installed,” Bartels adds.

This pavilion is complete with lights, sound system and ceiling fan as well as a large wood-burning fireplace, making this an ideal three-season outdoor space. The clients stained the cedar wood with a dark stain and added an outdoor deep seating ensemble to create their dream outdoor family room.

The Resort-style Pool
The dream: A pool, ideally with an infinity edge, a spa and fireplace for a family home.
The reality: A luxe hotel-style negative-edge pool that incorporates a year-round spa, a covered seating area with fireplace and enough lawn remaining for flexible use of the space.
The designer: Polar Pools & Landscapes Ltd.

The homeowners of this Joshua Creek-area home have two children, one teenage and one grown, and had lots of different uses on the wish list for their backyard. Fred Frigon of Polar Pools & Landscapes Ltd. created a plan that incorporated their wish list into a pleasing and versatile landscape.

The pool is surrounded by a man-made stone called Umbriano, made by Unilock. Frigon often uses natural stone, but the homeowners were looking for a light coloured stone, and he also loves the lighter tones of the Umbriano.

“It's a beautiful product that we selected for its colour. The blend of ivory tones work well around a pool. It makes the colour pop. I love the look of a white pool. It then gives that Caribbean look and makes it very inviting,” Frigon says.

The pool is also inset with coloured lighting so it explodes with colour at night when the lights are on. To soften the linear lines of the pool and stone, some lawn remains in the design adding another texture to the landscape.

The lower catch basin that created the negative-edge of the pool creates a secondary space to hang out in the water and talk.

“It's another spot to be in the pool, plus it's a nice feature wall in the space. When viewing from one side, the pool has its negative edge, but on the other side it's a waterfall,” he says.

A cabana was created at one end of the yard that gave the homeowners the fireplace on their wish list, plus a dry bar in a covered space that is perfect when the day draws to a close. It also acts to hide the operational requirements of the pool and is cleverly placed to become a privacy screen between the yard and the trail adjacent to the home.

The installation of ornamental screens was also included to add yet another decorative element while offering more privacy to the yard.

Also on the wish list was a spa, which the homeowners had at a previous residence. “I don't like when a spa is plunked down in the middle of a space and it doesn't make sense. We designed the spa to tie into the design of the pool and added the waterfall feature. It adds a decorative element and makes the spa look like its part of the pool. In reality the spa is completely independent from the pool, and built to operate year round.”