Archive for the ‘Outdoor Living’ Category


Ultimate in outdoor furniture
Andrea Bellamy |

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I’m completely in love with A Stacking Hommage, the final project of one Dirk Winkel, recent graduate in Industrial Design from University of the Arts, Berlin, which he describes as “three classics of design history, redesigned as a low-price, stackable plastic chair.” (Barcelona version shown.) F-ing brilliant.

Now will someone please manufacture it?

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Design assistant

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It’s another soggy day here in Vancouver, and because the weather report tells me I won’t be spending any time in my garden this weekend, I’m substituting actual gardening with the online version of a garden tour. I’m talking about Design Assistant, from CoastalLiving.com.

It features all kinds of interior and outdoor rooms and treatments from various magazines (Sunset, Southern Accents, Coastal Living, etc.) that you can sort according to various categories. For example, I liked the garden shown above, so went to “browse for similar” and clicked on Outdoor Areas – Contemporary and found a slew of interesting designs. Each featured garden has a how-to area, so if the garden has a gravel patio, for example, and you want to know how to recreate that look, Design Assistant will lead you to an appropriate source.

Be prepared to spend many hours here – it’s the perfect rainy day cure!

Photo by Thomas J. Story from Design Assistant.

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Looking for love. Loveseats, that is.
Andrea Bellamy |

I’m looking for an outdoor loveseat for my third-floor balcony. I know, I know. Sounds suspiciously like I’m wanting to create an “outdoor room,” right? And they have been so overdone and overexposed lately. “What’s next,” you’re asking, “the behemoth barbecue, the outdoor shower?” Well, no, just the loveseat. And maybe an ottoman. And a place to rest my gin and tonic. But that’s it. I swear.

And there are so many lovely outdoor sofas. Or “deep seating,” as they say in the industry. Here are a few front runners.

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Modern Outdoor makes two beautiful outdoor sofas in a variety of custom cushion and frame colours. I love the mid-century feel of the Etra (above) and the low-slung minimalism of the Talt (below).

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Barlow and Tyrie also make a line of stainless steel seating. The Equinox line (below) has a great retro feel to it.

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Sadly, I’d have to remortgage the house to afford any of these. And I haven’t yet found a comparable stainless steel sofa that is affordable. But wood and resin (the new “wicker”) are getting better looking every year. And you can’t beat the prices.

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From Walmart, a half-decent looking two-seater (above) runs only $199USD, while an entire set of resin “wicker” furniture (below) will set you back $799USD.

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And at Target, the four-piece Home South Bali set, below is just $799, and would look great in an Indonesia-inspired garden.

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Personally speaking, when I’m not asking my husband to buy me the $4000 Talt (ha!) for my birthday, I’m keeping my eye on a hip – and affordable – outdoor sofa in a local department store. Where? That I’m keeping to myself.

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Eva solo lust

So I just crawled out from under my rock and discovered Eva Solo, launched in 1997 as an offshoot of a 60-year old Danish company. Driven by design duo Claus and Henrik, Eva Solo makes sweet product magic. I am pretty much in love with each of their products – and there are many in the outdoor living vein. There are no garden tools as such, but let this be my official declaration that should they design some, I’m buying ‘em.

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Birds have been the recipient of their magic touch, with the bird box (above) and bird table (below). They also make lovely oil lamps and flower pots.
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But it’s their grill I’m really coveting. Right now, my husband is dreaming of something like this but has had to be content with this for the last year. I’ve promised him space for a barbecue in the new design I’m doing for the backyard, but I’ve been struggling with the unsightliness of most barbecues. Enter the Eva Solo grill.

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Have you ever seen a sexier barbecue? The stainless steel grill comes in gas or charcoal, and when not in use, you can replace its flat top and use as a serving table. The gas version hides the propane tank away, but I do wish they made a natural gas version. Ah well, I guess it can’t be too perfect.

Buy Eva Solo here.

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Mobilier à jardiner

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In the what-will-they-think-of-next department, Mobilier à jardiner by 5.5 Designers for bton design is an outdoor furniture collection that, like the Topo Table and grass chair, incorporates the plant kingdom into its design. Products include a bench and chair in which you plant your seatback – with shrubs or other plants – and a coffee table with a grass table top.

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Via MoCo Loco.

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Textiles for the garden

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Bon matin, mes amis! Thought you’d appreciate hearing about the latest in Parisian garden fashion.

Deborah Sommers wrote to tell me about her made-to-measure garden art textiles, “designed with the urban garden in mind, and a great way to add design and greenery to even the smallest balcony.” The quick-drying fabric banners, which come in dozens of prints – from vibrant to subtle – are machine washable and UV protected. I can totally see these on a chic modern balcony, or used as a space divider in a larger garden.

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Priced at CDN$154.00 (US$135) per square metre, plus shipping (via regular mail) they can be ordered here.

Thanks Deborah!

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Baby it’s cold outside
Andrea Bellamy |

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Even though the longest day of the year is quickly approaching, once the sun goes down, it gets chilly quickly. That’s when I start to wish for an outdoor fireplace, like this one at Unica Home. I wonder what the strata council would have to say about that!

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My parents have one like this from Canadian Tire. I don’t even need to check with my local fire department to know that’s not okay.

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Not as romantic (for me) or exciting (for my borderline-pyromanic fiance), but probably legal, these natural gas heaters have come down in price in recent years. Maybe we’ll throw one on the registry.

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A different kind of water feature
Andrea Bellamy |

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How cool is this outdoor sink – sorry, water centre – from Smart Home? While probably not all that necessary for gardeners blessed with potting sheds or garages, this would be a fabulous amenity for my small backyard. It connects to any tap, and folds down to double as a work surface. Now if only it were slate or stainless steel…

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Container success
Andrea Bellamy |

I’m so excited. I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.

Yes, I’ve finally found some decent pots for the front patio. At a Home Hardware, of all places (I don’t know what they’re like elsewhere, but my local Home Hardware is a dinky little store that closes at like 4:00 and never has what you need – hence my surprise).

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They’re sleek and smooth and stylish. They’re bold, but match the look and feel of the building. They were cheap. And they don’t weigh 900lbs. Sold!

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This is the inner courtyard of our townhouse complex. I think it has kind of a Whistler feel to it.

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Here’s our front patio, adjacent to the courtyard. I haven’t done much with it, really, just added a few plants among the landscaper’s yew hedges, oak tree and euphorbia (not shown). You can see a bit of one of the pots. There’s a matching one on the other side of the kitchen (closed) door.

Now to plant them up. I was thinking of grasses, to add some height. Naturally, I turned to Bluestem Nursery, known locally as the source for ornamental grasses. Bluestem is located in Christina Lake, BC’s warmest lake, which is in the southern Interior of British Columbia, right on the border with Washington State north of Spokane. They’ve got a great article and list of grasses for containers, all of which sound lovely.

But I’d love your suggestions. What would look great in these pots? (Part-shade, zone 8, prefer a foundation plant that has winter interest…) The pots themselves are about 3′ high, and about 16″ in diameter at the rim. Anyone had success with grasses in containers?

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Garden aesthetics

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So I bought this raised bed kit from Lee Valley Tools for my roof-top veggie garden. I was hoping that it would look as passable as it does in the above photos, but, when I got it home and assembled it, it looked like I had nicked a curbside recycling bin. In short: it’s ugly.

But, I reasoned, no one will see it but Ben and me and our occasional guests. But Ben wasn’t having any of it. “How am I going to be able to relax on the deck with that thing,” he complained.

Which brings me to my rant: why is it so hard to find garden accessories that are sleek, modern and affordable? I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want – or who’s home doesn’t suit – rustic chic or “Asian inspired”?

Hmm. Maybe there’s a business idea there somewhere.

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