Homes

Patio perfection — Creative ways to enjoy weather

Hidden at the back of a classic Glebe red-brick house floats a lofty urban cottage. The clever three-season room and deck, designed and constructed by Amsted Design Build, was built atop an existing one-storey extension, replacing a large cedar deck that the owners enjoyed but found difficult to maintain (it was also oppressively hot on sunny summer days).

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The owners were looking to create an urban cottage above an existing single-storey addition. On hazy summer days, the “cottage room” opens out completely to the deck courtesy of a NanaWall folding glass door system. Composite decking throughout is easy to maintain. Photo: Gordon King

To create a cottage vibe, Amsted owner Steve Barkhouse envisaged a room that was reminiscent of a rustic sunroom, with a folding glass door opening fully to the deck. Surrounded by white railings with glass panels, that deck seems to hover in the trees, offering views from on high. Taking into account the owners’ request for a maintenance-free existence, Barkhouse replaced the cedar with a composite deck.

The beadboard walls and ceiling create a stylishly informal cottage atmosphere. Durable WeatherWall windows along two walls are made up of panels that the owners can slide down according to how much breeze they’d like to allow
The beadboard walls and ceiling create a stylishly informal cottage atmosphere. Durable WeatherWall windows along two walls are made up of panels that the owners can slide down according to how much breeze they’d like to allow. Photo: Gordon King

Top Tip Really talk things through with your design-builder before you begin. Try to think long-term. How do you plan to use the space, and how maintenance-free do you want it to be?


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Photo: Erik Tolonen

This cozy, modern gathering spot garnered a national award of excellence for Welwyn Wong Landscape Design. No surprise that the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association recognized the beauty of this small space with a big impact. The fireside seating area appears sunken but is actually set at ground level, with four stone steps connecting it to an adjacent dining and barbecue area. Easy-to-maintain plantings add a touch of green, while soft lighting allows the area to be used day or night.

Soft lighting makes the area accessible day or night, while well-spaced screens afford some privacy but don’t block the sun. The stone steps lead to a dining and barbecue area at the back of the house
Soft lighting makes the area accessible day or night, while well-spaced screens afford some privacy but don’t block the sun. The stone steps lead to a dining and barbecue area at the back of the house. Photo: Erik Tolonen

Top Tip If you’re building an infill house, plan the backyard landscaping before the foundation is poured. It is often impossible to move big equipment into the small space after the fact.


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Photo: Jeff Macgregor

The beauty of living in a 1960s neighbourhood is the generous backyard. Here, the decision to add a 500-square-foot covered deck incorporating two seating areas and a barbecue and cooking station still leaves ample room for the swimming pool and garden. Herb Lagois, president of Lagois Design Build Renovate, explains that the cedar-lined canopy ensures the west-facing main deck doesn’t get too hot in the afternoon, while north- and south-facing skylights allow light to filter in throughout the day. Large patio doors connect the family’s kitchen to the deck, integrating the indoors and outdoors.

Because the deck faces west, the cedar canopy ensures it doesn’t get too hot in the afternoon, while skylights allow light to filter in throughout the day. The seating area with the red sunshade is open to the elements. Stairs lead to a garden and pool
Because the deck faces west, the cedar canopy ensures it doesn’t get too hot in the afternoon, while skylights allow light to filter in throughout the day. The seating area with the red sunshade is open to the elements. Stairs lead to a garden and pool. Photo: Jeff Macgregor

Top Tip Before you commit to building a deck, think about how you plan to use it. If you want a table and seating, you need to make sure there’s enough room to walk around — that there’s good flow and people don’t have to squeeze by the furniture.