Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Perfect patio pleasures
By VENA EATON, Toronto Sun

Do you have big ideas for outdoor living, but very little space?

Then fret no more, since outdoor patios need not be expansive or expensive to be a fun and functional area for entertaining.

"The key to designing a room inside or out is to not overwhelm the space," says Rob Whitfiend, co-owner of casalife in Liberty Village. "Keep it simple, with strong pieces that provide a focal point, are multi-functional and reflect your living style," adds the west-end retailer who, along with his partner Mark Beukers, has tapped into the urban mind-set by showcasing affordable contemporary furniture.

Furniture that does double duty, such as the Caterina Trolley Server, is stylish enough to work indoors during the off season, while acting as a bar, a buffet or potting table during the summer months. The two-tier teak and cast aluminum cart is part of casalife's Garden Teak collection that also includes sturdy folding chairs, benches and tables to suit any space.

And moving outdoors shouldn't mean dark corners and hard surfaces.

"It's now possible to have all the comforts of interior spaces on your patio or deck, or even in your yard," says Bev Bell of Home Hardware. "The trend in patio furniture is for deep, soft and inviting, and designed for the ultimate in comfortable relaxation."

"One cheap and cheerful solution is to use outdoor fabrics, which are water and mould resistant, to dress up a space," says Jodie Orange.

"The fabrics come in great colours and patterns and can be used on tables, pillows and even as drapery, if you're so inclined," adds the interior designer.

"Try wrapping plastic around a down-filled seat cushion, then cover it with an outdoor fabric for a luxurious feel," suggests the owner of Vitamin C Designs. "You can leave the pillows outside, as well as any of the outdoor fabrics, but I do suggest you bring them in once in a while so they don't become dirty and tired-looking."

And don't forget to set the stage with proper lighting.

"Create a wonderful glow with a super abundance of candles," says Orange. "Fill large vases part way with sand and add pillar candles, or add votives to low glass bowls that have been filled with shells, sand or pebbles," suggests Orange.

  • Furniture and patio sets for the hip, urban dweller: Casalife, 37 Hanna Ave., Unit 10, Toronto. 416-922-2785 or
  • Interior design and lighting consultant: Jodie Orange, Vitamin C Designs, 416-994-7170.
  • Outdoor decor: Home Hardware retailers across the GTA.

From the archive.

Decor archive

What do you think is a reasonable price for a kitchen renovation?
$10, 000
$25, 000
$50, 000
$100, 000