Designing and furnishing your backyard sometimes feels like not just a different section of the home – but a whole different headspace.
Tara MacTavish, Kensington’s designer and owner of Changes by Design, suggests thinking about the space just like you would your indoor haven, and had these tips to impart:
Zone it out
Think about how you will use each element of your backyard space, and section them off according to their intended purpose. “Zone it out just like you do a house,” says MacTavish. “I treat my outside like I treat my inside, ‘What am I using that space for?’”
Loungers by the pool, a small-scale patio set for sipping wine and birdwatching in the shade, and cozy Muskoka chairs around the fire pit are just some ideas for finding the right furniture to fit their future use.
Go heavy duty for dining
Get sturdy enough furniture to endure the elements. Splurge on cast-iron or heavy-duty patio sets to weather any wild winds. Pro tip: “I use real potted plants on my table when I’m outside, which are nice and heavy, so they don’t fly away,” says MacTavish.
“It’s nicer than a vase outside because the wind won’t catch them, and you can see your guests over the shorter pots.”
Make it pop
While neutral colours are still the ruling trend, use pops of colour for points of interest. Go for loud colours in your potted plants or garden; pair an understated table with bright tableware; or mix in some prints or throw pillows with vibrant motifs to go with your minimalist patio furniture.
“Navy blue and orange are making their mark this season,” says MacTavish. “There’s also a new green that’s coming out – it’s a deeper green, almost like an evergreen.
“We’ve been on teal for a long time, and now we’re kind of going into a new green.”
You can get away with all kinds of patterns outside – including mixing prints. The key is to balance different sizes or scales of prints together. “You can pair a largescale stripe with a floral print, as long as it’s a little smaller,” says MacTavish.
Everything from florals, plaids, stripes and solids can be mixed together, as long as you pay attention to complementing their weights.
Stow it away on a rainy day
Get some functional storage boxes so it’s easy to protect your toss pillows and cushions when it’s calling for rain.
Have fun with it
“You can be more brave and colourful outside, like adding a throw pillow of a pelican wearing sunglasses,” says MacTavish. “I’m a little crazy when I get outside.”