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Covering your patio furniture for winter weather

 

Winter is coming

Living in the beautiful country of Canada we are lucky enough to experience the ever-changing seasons. These changes certainly keep us busy preparing for each one individually so we can fully enjoy the benefits of each season! As we start our preparations for winter our thoughts turn towards storing our patio furniture and how best to protect our investment. We have put together some helpful information and tips on how best to store your patio furniture over the winter months so it will be ready to use when the seasons change again!

 

Why is it important to take care of your outdoor furniture?

Buying outdoor furniture can often be a relatively big investment and with both the budget and environment in mind it’s important that your furniture lasts for many years. Taking the time to take care of your outdoor furniture will lengthen the life of your furniture. If you keep your outdoor furniture clean, store it indoors in the winter and maintain routine maintenance you will have your furniture for years to come!

 

How winter weather breaks down patio furniture.

To help best protect our patio furniture, it helps to understand how the winter weather damages it.  The main component is moisture. Moisture will get into cracks and even fine pores of the furniture freeze and then expand causing sometimes irreversible damage to the furniture. Also, moisture if left on the furniture before covering it for the winter months will lead to mold and mildew again causing damage to the furniture.

Snow is another factor to consider when storing your patio furniture.  Snow is heavy! It may look light and fluffy when it is falling from the sky but when it accumulates snow is dense and heavy.  This weight will cause your furniture to warp or break under the pressure.

 

Storage or covers? 

One of the first things to consider is whether you would like to store your furniture indoors or leave the furniture outdoors with covers for protection.  There are many different options for storage, a corner in your garage or basement is a great option.  No extra space available? Try storage rentals, there are many different places that offer protected, dry areas to store your items for a rental fee.  These fees vary and it is best to call around to get the best price. If you do choose to pursue the storage route, it is still recommended to cover your patio furniture with tarps or fitted covers to protect the furniture from dust and animals.

If you choose to leave your patio on the deck with covers, it is best to invest in a high-quality cover. There are many different things to consider when purchasing an outdoor cover for your furniture, the first being size.  To find out what size of cover you require you must first find the dimensions of your patio furniture. 

  • Sofas and chairs – To obtain the dimensions of your sofas and chairs measure the height from the ground to the top of the chair back this will give you the height. Next, determine the length (which is also called the depth of the furniture) by measuring the distance from the front to the back of the piece of furniture. You also require a measurement of the width, this is determined by measuring your piece of furniture side-to-side. The last measurement that you require is the arm height which is the found by measuring from the ground to the top of the arm rest.

  • Dining Sets – To obtain the dimensions of your outdoor dining set first measure the height of your dining chair by measuring the distance from the ground to the top of the back of the dining chair. Next, place all of the dining chairs around your table pushing them up to the table. Determine the length and width of the dining set when all pushed together by measuring from chair backs opposite each other. If your table is round you need only to measure the diameter of the set.

Now that you have the size of the cover your need, it is time to consider the material of the cover.  Covers are generally made of polyester and vinyl or a combination of the two.  Polyester alone is water resistant and will allow moisture to penetrate the fabric in hard soaking rains or if snow is left on the cover over time and “melts” through the fabric.  If you are thinking of purchasing a polyester cover for outdoors consider polyester reinforced by waterproof PVC.  PVC is essentially a thin layer of plastic with a fabric covering making it waterproof.

Cottage Culture has a variety of different sizes and shapes of covers available for your patio furniture. Whether you require a cover for a single chair, dining set or large patio grouping Cottage Culture has you covered! (pun intended) Call or stop in and ask our knowledgeable staff for assistance in choosing the perfect cover for your patio furniture.

 

Time to clean

With the size and type of material decided now it is time for the manual labor! Your outdoor furniture must be cleaned before you put it away for the season. Depending on the material of outdoor furniture this can be done in different ways:

  • Wicker- Vacuum your wicker furniture removing all the dust and dirt. Next, wipe down the furniture with a rag and soapy water. We recommend using Dawn dish soap as we find this best remove dirt and any oily grime that may be on your furniture. After going over your wicker piece of furniture with a rag use an old toothbrush to reach in the crevasses of the wicker making sure to get in all of those tight spaces! Now the hard part is done, just let your wicker furniture completely dry before covering or storing it.  Any amount of moisture left on the furniture will promote mold and mildew growth.

  • Wood – Wood is the most vulnerable material as it naturally contains moisture. Just using a cover will not protect your wood furniture as wood continually draws moisture from the air. After cleaning your wood furniture, it is recommended to use a sealant that has moisture-resistant characteristics. Again, make sure your wood furniture is completely dry before covering or storing.

  • Teak – Storing teak furniture is different than storing wood furniture as teak naturally contains components to prevent mold and mildew.  Teak will naturally patina to a grey colour. If you are wishing to maintain the honey-brown colour of new teak you will need to seal your teak furniture. We recommend to use a marine-grade sealer. Always apply the sealer on clean, dry teak. Depending on how dry your climate is the sealer will need to be reapplied every 6-12 months. For some great tips on maintaining teak furniture visit https://teakwarehouse.com/care/a-grade-teak-furniture-care/.

  • Plastic – Plastic has no issues with moisture. The most harmful winter element to plastic furniture are the cold temperatures. Cold weather will make plastic brittle over time allowing the plastic to crack. To give your plastic furniture longevity it is recommended to bring it indoors over the winter months. If you choose to leave your plastic furniture outdoors and your outdoor furniture is stackable, place the covered stack of furniture in an area that will not easily be bumped or hit.

  • Metal – Metal furniture is heavy and bulky making it hard to move therefore it is usually stored outdoors for the winter.  Before covering your metal furniture for the winter be sure to give the furniture a thorough wash with soapy water followed by a scrub with a brush and quick rinse.  Once the furniture is cleaned inspect it for any signs of rust. If you find any troublesome areas treat them with a rust-neutralizing primer. Although not required, it is recommended to apply a coat of wax to your metal furniture for added protection against the winter elements before covering it for the winter.

Don’t forget the cushions!

Outdoor cushions need to be stored away for the winter as well. The main winter determent to outdoor cushions are rodents.  Wherever you choose to store your outdoor cushions be sure to take into account these pesky creatures.  Consider placing a few Bounce dryer sheets amongst your cushions as the smell will deter the rodents. The first step in preparing your patio cushions for winter storage is to give them a good look over and spot clean any areas of concern with hot soapy water (again we recommend Dawn dish soap for best results) followed by a quick rinse as not to leave any soap on the cushions. Once your outdoor cushions are 100% dry they can easily be stored indoors in Rubbermaid containers or outdoors in a storage box. The Grasse storage box is large enough to fit all of your cushions keeping them all in one place! When you are looking for storage containers look for ones made of aluminum which is a rust-free material and will not leave marks on your cushions.

 

A few winter storage pointers.

  1. The most important tip is to make sure your outdoor furniture is completely dry before covering it up and storing it for the winter months.  Wood furniture in particular must be dry and treated with a sealant to prevent mold and mildew.

  2. It is best to prevent the cover from resting against flat surfaces of your furniture, such as table tops. Place a bucket or similar sized object on the table before placing the cover over top, this allows ventilation.

  3. Furniture in any material can theoretically be kept outside, even in the winter, bit its lifespan will be much shorter. Snow, ice, cold and moisture wear on furniture and shorten its lifespan.

  4. When you are cleaning your outdoor furniture prior to putting it away for the season take the short bit of extra time to give the piece of furniture a “once over.” Are there any screws missing or that might need to be tightened?  Check metal furniture for signs of rust. If you see any signs of mold or mildew while cleaning treat them with bleach just be careful not to get it on your clothes!

While it may take a day or two to properly winterize and store your patio furniture for the winter, trust me it is worth taking the time.  Keeping your outdoor furniture clean and regular maintenance will prolong the life of your furniture and your investment. These few steps will give you peace of mind over the long winter months when the snow and wind are howling that your furniture is safe and will be ready for you when the warm weather comes again!

 

Angela Roth at 2:07 PM
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Embracing Autumn at the Cottage this Fall

Embracing Autumn at the Cottage this Fall

Fall is less than a week away on the calendar, despite the lovely warm weather we’ve been enjoying! And it’s an enchanting time of year!  

 

 

Cooler temperatures, crisp leaves and bright colours – bursts of yellow, orange and red dotting the landscapes around the country signal that one of the most spectacular seasons in our part of Ontario is arriving. Fall, no matter your age, still somehow signals the chance to start anew. The season almost urges you to slow down, savour quiet moments, dig into harvest foods and discover new experiences.

So, take a moment to plan the perfect respite between summer and winter at your cottage, and enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons in your locale, whether it be hiking, apple picking, enjoying bonfires. However, you don’t need a cottage to enjoy this season, just a willingness to get out in nature and enjoy the fresh weather and surroundings.

The Cottage Culture team dug into what enjoyable fall activities come to mind for each of us, and share a few of our favourite ways to safely embrace autumn this year.

 

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

- Albert Camus
 

Go apple picking (and bake apple pies)

Orchards are now open for apple picking at Ontario farms, and to our way of thinking, nothing signals the coming of fall like biting into a crisp fresh apple that you picked with your own two hands. Peak picking stretches right through September and October, so find an orchard open for picking near your cottage and take the family apple picking for the day. Couple that with a full day of farm fun, like corn mazes and wagon rides, and you have an ideal day outing with the family.

Then what could be better than baking your apple pies after picking the ingredients with your own hands? Here are just a few area orchards open for picking: Apple Land Station, Thorndale; ; The Red Barn Fruit Farm, Arkona; Smith’s Apples and Market, Port Elgin; Maxwell Apple Orchards near Collingwood; Meleg’s Lakeview Orchard, Kingsville; Thiessen Orchards, Leamington.

Always check to see that visiting and picking is allowed. Otherwise choose to visit the numerous area orchard markets who’ve done the work for you! Also check open hours before you head out.

 

Go fishing for the last few times of the year

We are fortunate here in South Western Ontario to have access to two Great Lakes for our fishing enjoyment. Local experts suggest that fishing in the fall is when you may be most likely to catch the biggest fish. If you don’t have you own boat, there are a number of fishing charters leaving rom ports all along the Lake Huron shoreline, leaving from Sarnia, Kettle Point, Port Franks, Grand Bend, Goderich, Kincardine, to name a few. Charters also serve Lake Erie, departing from Erieau and Colchester. You can enjoy the last fishing moments of the season (until ice fishing begins!) and impress your family with your fresh catch.

 

 

Plan a stroll or a hike

There are so many beautiful spots to hike in the fall, it’s difficult to capture them all. For me, one of my favourites is hiking along the shores of Lake Huron, Georgian Bay (or Lake Erie), when you get to a viewpoint and see stretches of crystal blue waters along side pops of bright colour – think the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath, with over 900 km of main Trail and over 450 km of side trails. Accessible to explorers of all ages, the Bruce Trail connects you to the wonders of the Niagara Escarpment – cobble beaches, open meadows, waterfalls, rocky crevices, old growth forests and awe-inspiring views. While another recommends an enjoyable hike closer to home, in Rock Glen Conservation Area, where you can wander through a forest filled with rare trees, soak up waterfall views, and enjoy a scenic gorge in this area. You can even go fossil hunting! And still another, hiking along the Elora Gorge, suggesting that if you are only going to visit a small number of charming towns in southwestern Ontario this fall, then you might choose Elora. Not only is it a lovely little town full of colourful places for strolling, but a hike through the Elora Gorge Conservation Area in the fall will wow you with brilliant fall foliage. If you take the trail through the park, you can catch sight of the over 70 foot cliffs that line the gorge – truly a visit for your bucket list!

 

Relax on your Dock

Cocktail hour at the cottage in the summer, whether on your dock, or deck, is hard to beat. But, have you ever thought about sitting outside in cozy sweaters with thick blankets draped over your outdoor lounge chair, sipping mulled wine or warm cider? You can watch the sun go down, and see the rays light up the surrounding colourful foliage, then see the stars come out. You’ll be wishing you’d thought of this sooner.

 

We have our favourite mulled wine recipe to share with you, here.

 

The Best Mulled Wine Recipe

The best traditional mulled wine recipe with brandy, apple cider, and mulling spices. This hot spiced wine is festive, easy, and perfect for parties!

While we can’t state authoritatively that this is the most traditional mulled wine recipe (there seem to be as many variations of mulled wine as there are European cafés in which to sip them), we’ve made enough batches to say with confidence that this is the best mulled wine recipe.

 

Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 30 minutes

Servings: 6 servings

 

Ingredients

  • 750 ml red wine (1 bottle) — choose something fruity but not too sweet—Merlot, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon all work well
  • 2 cups apple cider 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 orange zested and juiced
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Orange slices and Cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions

  • Add wine, cider, honey, orange zest, and orange juice to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. Cook on low until warm, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your slow cooker. Stir in the brandy.
  • Ladle into mugs and serve with an orange slice and cinnamon sticks. To keep the wine warm, leave the slow cooker on the "Keep Warm" setting. If your slow cooker does not have a warm setting, alternate between "Low" and "Off."

Notes

 

This recipe scales easily. Feel free to increase the batch size by as much as your slow cooker or pot will hold.
TO MAKE ON THE STOVE: simmer the wine, apple cider, orange zest and juice, and spices in a large pot or Dutch oven the stove over low heat for 30 minutes, instead of heating in the slow cooker. Do not let the wine boil Add the brandy and serve.
TO STORE: Let your slow cooker mulled wine cool completely, then pour it into an airtight storage container and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm mulled wine in a large pot on the stovetop over low heat, or pour leftovers into your slow cooker and reheat on LOW until warm.


Notes on the Ingredients:   

  • Red Wine. A dry and richly flavored red wine is perfect for this recipe.
  • Apple Cider. Where most spiced wine recipes use sugar, this recipe uses apple cider instead. It gives the hot wine a seasonal flavor that tastes just right for this time of year.
  • Honey. A touch of sweetness.
  • Orange. The orange might seem like an odd addition, but trust us. A key to making the best spiced wine is balancing different notes of complementary flavors, and the orange helps do just that.
  • Spices. Cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and star anise are the mulled wine spices. Even if you don’t love anise, the flavor here is subtle, well balanced, and gives this spiced wine an extra note of flavor that you don’t want to miss.

    Ground spices not recommended, as they will float on top of the wine and not incorporate properly.

  • Brandy. The final edge this spiced wine needs to reach its peak

Have a bonfire

A lot of people underestimate how enjoyable evenings are at the beach. While we enjoy bonfires on the beach right through the summer, we find that now, as the temperatures cool down, there is nothing more special than enjoying a bonfire. Firepits are an excellent way to avoid any issues with legality of having a bonfire in your location; they also raise up the level of the fire to help keep everyone warm. Cottage Culture staff would be happy to show you their sturdy Iron Embers firepits.

 

The following checklist of items will ensure you create the perfect bonfire experience;

  • Firewood – both kindling and larger pieces of wood.
  • Bug spray – although we have many less bugs in the fall, another reason to enjoy now!
  • Speakers – to add some music to the occasion.
  • Blankets – even if you’re sitting by the fire, it can feel good to have some cozy throws, or blankets nearby.
  • Outdoor chair – for those who don’t wish to sit on the ground. See our Delia armchairs at Cottage Culture as an example.
  • Food - good food and fire go hand in hand. Hotdogs are a good choice as they cook well on an open fire. And of course, S’mores are a traditional and an important part of a bonfire. Don’t forget all the fixings – marshmallows, wafers and chocolate, plus skewers. For a more creative S’mores treat for adults perhaps, see the 6 recipes here including Praline toffee, chocolate butterscotch, and grilled banana S’mores.  
  • Drinks – both adults and children enjoy a bonfire, so bring drinks for both groups.

However you plan to spend your time this fall at your cottage be sure to savour the moments, it's the little things that create the largest memories!

 

 

 

Janet Baird-Jackson at 7:00 PM
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Cozy Cottage Style

Is Your Cottage Ready for that Cozy Cottage Style?

If you love the feeling of being up north at the cottage during the summer, then why not recreate that same vibe in your own backyard? Imagine being able to enjoy that calming getaway without having to pack all your gear and sit in traffic.

A cozy cottage style fits in with almost any outdoor lifestyle. Whether you use your yard for entertaining or just cuddling up with a good book, the comfortable vibe created by a cottage style lends itself to any activity.

Decorating your backyard oasis using the cottage style is easy with Cottage Culture. We carry an assortment of timeless patio pieces and accessories to help bring your cottage vibe together.

Before you get started though, let’s discuss what design elements are used to create a cozy cottage style; every backyard makeover needs a good foundation in design.

 

What is cozy cottage style?

Cottage style layers vintage character with bright, light spaces to create a relaxed feeling like being at your cottage retreat. The design should feel comfortable and inviting and look put-together but with a no-fuss vibe.

The hardest thing to capture is a feeling of genuine charm and that air of serenity, but our team at Cottage Culture is here to help. Look for these design elements when shopping for patio furniture or accessories to create a cozy cottage atmosphere:

Vintage character – repurpose pieces into new uses, such as using wooden crates as storage or the base for a coffee table. The more ornate and distressed the item the better.

Play with patterns and print in your accessories – mix it up and using a variety of checks, florals, and stripes to create an exciting but coordinated look.  When placed with clean elegant cottage furniture, you instantly up the cozy effect.

A light and airy colour palette – cottage design uses a lot of eclectic pieces brought together with a unifying colour palette. Try to use light sandy tones, warm whites, and soft blue pastels to bring the space together.

 

Start by choosing reused or sustainable landscaping materials

Part of the cottage style look comes from the fact that the materials used around the property are usually hand-me-down, so they are weathered and worn. To recreate this look you can start by using reclaimed landscaping materials.

For example, source your patio stones from reclaimed or local sources. The more weathered and ‘vintage’ looking, the better they are to recreate your cottage style.

 

Now continue that reclaimed look into some décor pieces

Finding fun and interesting reclaimed pieces can really bring together the look of your backyard oasis. We recommend picking-up décor pieces from local salvage yards or community groups.

Re-using rusted metal pieces, like old dairy urns or chimineas and repurposing them into planters or bird feeders is very trendy in 2022. Just be careful that you are not overpaying for trendy items, sometimes it’s better to find something that others no longer want.

Your guests will also love hearing the history behind the pieces or the story of how you acquired these unique works of art during your journey.

Soften paving and stones with plants

Plant flowers, mosses, and grasses in between your paving stones and around any hard structures to soften the look. Planting amongst your paving is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also a perfect way to create that natural cottage vibe.

Some plants you could try are thyme, chamomile, erigeron, aubretia, dianthus, saxifrage, Alchemilla mollis, succulents and Mondo grass. And many of these have an added bonus of deterring mosquitos!

Lower the seating area to create defined

comfortable areas

A sunken patio lined by low walls allows you to view your yard, but also protects you from the wind. Adding different elevations to your backyard design will add character but also help define spaces.

Find a way to incorporate the seating into the walls, making sure you have enough room to comfortably seat your guests. Remember that we’re trying to achieve a comfortable and inviting feel, so add lots of pillows and cushy seating.

If a full landscape isn’t in the cards then consider defining your seating areas by use – lower seating for lounging areas and more upright seatbacks in dining areas.  A coffee nook is another fabulous way of adding purposeful charm to your backyard space.

 

Make sure you make your seats the best

seats in the house

You should place your seating in the garden so that it offers the best views of your yard or other features. Sit on each chair and look around to really see what your guests will see when they sit there.

You don’t want to spend all this time and money and then have the best seats facing your air conditioning unit or natural gas lines. The type of furniture also makes a big difference in achieving the transformation into a cottage look and feel.

For example, an airy synthetic wicker seat such as the Kamomill, low back sofa or wrought iron patio furniture will be less clunky and it won’t obscure your design. Don’t be afraid to add some colour by choosing patio furniture in funky colours to accent the base design; a favourite metal chair painted in red, for example. You can also opt for cushions and throws that bring a pop of colour to your neutral pieces. The Dehila lounge chair is a great option to add a pop of colour to any outdoor space.

Enjoy your cottage oasis into the evening with a firepit

Place a fire pit at the heart of a seating area. Surround it with teak, resin or aluminum seating and a lot of water-resistant outdoor rugs and cushions. If you have the space, you can make the firepit an are to retire to after dinner.

Now you can enjoy your patio well into the night, even on a cool evening. Your patio seating area will become the focal point for entertaining with your family and friends. Iron Embers create unique long-lasting fireplaces that your family will enjoy for generations at the cottage.

Use decks to create elevation

Adding a deck to your yard opens a lot of design options and functionality opportunities. Decks offer a softer alternative to patio stones and allow you to bring in the natural wood look and feel.

Wood finishes allow you to tie in your planting with your design. You can create a perfect space for al fresco dining or relaxing and the deck lets you raise up parts of your design to create defined areas along with your sunken seating are or firepit. For more tips on al fresco dining visit our blog  Creating an Al fresco dining experience.

Opting for unfinished wood means your deck will weather over time and add even more character and cozy cottage vibe to your yard.

Make sure you choose a large table

When looking for an outdoor dining table that will fit your cottage style, make sure you look for a long farmhouse style table that will maximize the available space but also let everyone eat together.  Or, better yet, choose an extendable table such as the Hillmond that allows you to accommodate more guests.

We  recommend getting a durable teak dining table enough for creating a welcoming and cozy feeling. Teak will weather beautifully, creating a nice patina and it will fit in with the cottage vibe perfectly.  Consider the Circus – a table that screams for family, friends and conversation.

 

Increase your privacy and up the coziness

factor with plants and screening

Plants and screens can be used to create nice private areas in your backyard. Try to use tall willowy plants which will give you privacy but also allow a soft breeze. If you opt to go with screens, look for rustic or weathered ones that keep that vintage vibe.

If your garden has several levels, consider building a wall with plants or screens to enclose your patio which will both make it feel more private and prevent onlookers.

Another option would be to build a pergola over your patio are and grow climbing plants over the pergola. If you also want some pretty blooms, you can go with roses or clematis over ivy and the blossoms will also add a delicious smell.

Add a swing seat to your up your cottage

vibe

Adding a bench or swing seat to your cottage oasis gives you the perfect place to take a break while you are gardening or cuddle up with a great book on a quiet day.

Choose a seat that blends in with your plants and enhances your cottage garden. If your seat or bench has a frame design around it, you can also add climbing plants to the bench for vibrant pops of color and much needed shade over the seat.  A solid teak  bench such as the Turin 2-seateror Turin backless bench will naturaly patinina to rustic grey enhancing the cozy cottage vibe.

Use lighting to create that cottage

ambience

Proper lighting means you will be able to use your cottage space late into the evening. Warm outdoor lights can also help define boundaries between the different spaces in your yard and highlight key elements such as seating or firepit areas.

The right lighting can completely transform an outdoor space and current product lines come in a wide variety of choices. Remember to keep the cottage vibe at the forefront, too much lighting can swing the design to more of a hotel/resort look than a cottage.

For an impromptu al fresco moment, hand a plug in pendant from a tree near where you are seated or combine with patio string lights.  Lights such as the Midway floor lamp not only add light but also a stunning shadow that will add to the cozy mood.

 

Add water to really bring in that cottage feel

One of the most effective ways to bring in the cozy cottage feel is to add in a water feature. Most cottages have access to some form of water, whether on a river or a lake. The sound of trickling or moving water creates a calm and tranquility that immediately evokes that lakeside feeling.

Water features not only add texture and visual interest, but they also help in creating a stress free, restful environment. Water can be added in many ways from using small ponds to a larger pond or waterfall feature.

If you do add a water feature, make sure you make it a focal point in your design by arranging your seating or divided areas to take full advantage of it.

 

 

Angela Roth at 2:12 PM
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Creating a comfortable luxury lounge look for your outdoor space

Creating a comfortable luxury lounge look for your outdoor space

With the end of summer almost upon us, why does it feel like we need a vacation to relax and recharge from our vacation? Let’s face it creating summertime memories can be exhausting. Organizing family get togethers, days at the beach wiping sand from children’s feet, hands and food! Packing and unpacking, it can leave you feeling even more drained than before you went on vacation!

There is no doubt that spending time outdoors is a great form of selfcare and even more effective when you take some time for yourself to enjoy solo. Studies show that spending time in nature can reduce blood pressure, muscle tension and heart rate. In fact, 90% of people say they have more energy after spending time outside. With all of these great reasons to spend more time outside why not create your own luxurios lounge area to reap the health benefits mother nature has to offer you?

To create the perfect spot to unwind and recharge is simple, we have put together some helpful tips to assist you in putting together the perfect personal little get away for you to relax, recharge and unwind.

 

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it, including you. -  Anne Lamott

 

Identify that perfect spot 

Your “perfect spot” is where you feel the most relaxed on your property.  Take a walk around your outdoor space and listen to your instincts. Do your shoulders relax a bit more when you are near the pool or water feature or do find yourself having a deep exhaling breath by your flowers in your garden? Does a particular view help your mind calm and your thoughts stay present? Whichever area you are the most at ease is the perfect area for you to create your personal luxury lounge area.

Then condsider the seating that you prefer to use and the space available to you. A chaise lounge though incredibly comfortable requires a large available footprint. This type of seat requires space - a typical chiase is around 78in long x 27in wide (sometimes more with arms). If you are using multiple chaies lounges then you want to leave two to three feet between each seat for easy access.

For tighter spaces, consider a more upright lounge chair with a footstool - matching or not. Although not as versatile in terms of going from horizontal to seated lounge posiitons, this seat is often as comfortable and is perfect for reading, eating, and sipping. Footstools can be part of a set or a functional pouf, side table/stool combo or even a planter. Anything that allows you to lift your tired legs.

Also consider the sun's position and your own preferences. For example, are you a morning person who soaks in a sunrise or the early morning rays as shadows lift for the day? Or do you long for restful sunsets? If the afternoon siesta offers you the greates rejuvenationm then shade is no doubt an important consideration.

And then consider your senses. If your eyes are spent happily in a book then the ambient sounds around you are very important. If you like to gaze out over a view then this will be an important factor in identifying the best spot.

 

Elements for a Luxury Lounge area

We recommend keeping your lounge area simple and uncluttered.  It is harder to unwind and decompress amid clutter. All you really require is a comfortable seat;  lounger, daybed or armchair and a footstool, a side table for your book and refreshment and an option to get out of the sun if need be. 

But to add a luxurious comfort and elegance, the extra elements you could have on hand are a light throw for added coziness, a selection of outdoor toss cushions for added comfort, natural elements such as greenery and water.

To further personalize your lounge area, let’s look into each of these elements in a bit more detail.

The Lounger 

a.k.a the Sun lounger, chaise loungem beach chair, deck chair. The lounge seat is likely the largest investment component of this special space. There are many options to choose from but the best choice is likely the combination of the chaise that feels most comfortable to you and the one that is most asthetically pleasing - that draws you to get there in the first place. You do want ot be able to envison this space in those stressful moments as you prepare to steal away for that well-earned time off.

There are many materials that are used to make loungers including wood, wickerm synthetic rattan and iron. We have found, however, that our most popular loungers consist of rust-free sturdy but light aluminum frame with a maintenance free textline fabric.

Cushions remain a split vote as it is hard to beat that feeling of sinking into a soft cozy cushion when you finally recline for a moments peace. That said, more and more we see customers opt for a low-maintenance textilene option. This seat that allows air to flow through is perfect poolside when you have a swim before your relaxing/recharging time. People don't seem to want to bother with collecting cushions or wrestle covers before a rain or having to wait for cushions to dry when the rain clouds beat you to the punch.

Having said this, Cottage Culture has a range of lounging options....here are a few of our favourites.

 

Cottage Culture's menu of Loungers 2022

 

VEVI - The staff pick is the Vevi black aluminum lounger in chic black.  The clean, straight lines of this lounger allow it to integrate with many different styles.  It comes in white, khaki beige and classic black which allows for great versatility - dress it up however you like! The adjustable neck roll on the Vevi lounger provides extra comfort and is one less cushion you would need to worry about bringing in and out of the weather as it too is textilene.

 

ANDY - For a classic look, consider the Andy Lounger – one can almost imagine them lined up on the deck of the Titanic or a poolside at a summer resort from days gone by.  The comfort of this seat is hard to match with it’s adjustable head and foot rests to create that perfect personalized comfort.  Teak detailing on the arms and head rest of this lounger add an elevated aesthetic for an elegant look.  Although classic in appearance the Andy lounger is modern in it’s functional design.

 

ELATI – To capture that Scandinavian look of functional design combined with natural materials, then look closer at the Elati lounger.  for your relaxation haven.   The Elati lounger consists of a durable, sustainable teak frame in modern lines with a grey quick-drying textiline fabric. The meticulous design of the Elati lounger creates a first-rate reclining experience perfect for you to relax and recharge in style.

 

VEVI TEAK – If top-of-the-line luxury is what gives you the special place that you deserve, then let us introduce the Vevi teak lounger. The design is the same as the aluminum Vevi, but the materials and style is elevated with the use of a sustainable, solid teak frame, eye-catching stainless-steel structural accents and high-quality black Ferrari texteline fabric. This lounger is a jaw dropper! Comfort is not over looked when it comes to the design of the Vevi teak lounger with an adjustable head rest for you to create the perfect reclining position this lounger is where day dreams are made!

Alternatives to a Lounger 

Maybe a lounger is not your ideal form of outdoor relaxation and you would feel more comfortable in a hammock or an armchair?

Hammocks are not limited to lounging horizontally from the tree limbs anymore (although I must admit I could find some peace swinging in a hammock with a nice summer breeze). There are many different types of stands available allowing you to place your hammock wherever you choose.  Indeed even the sitting position is variable from seated to reclined to your traditional lying down position.

Some of stands have even become elaborate enough to include their own attached canopy to help keep you out of the sun. There are many different fabric choices available when you are looking at hammocks, everything from braided rope netting to canvas material. The options are endless. Just be careful when you get out of your hammock as this sometimes is challenge for some of us!

To take lounging to the next level, consider the sunbed – made for two people to lay side by side in the summer air.  And once again, some sunbeds also come with their own canopy supplying their own cool shade. The bases of the sunbeds range from synthetic wicker to powder-coated aluminum. Make sure that the sunbed cushions are covered in an olefin fabric or a Sunbrella fabric as these fabrics are mold, mildew and UV resistant.

If your outdoor space is limited in size and you would like the option of a sectional or a sunbed, consider Cottage Culture’s Gonesse Lounger.  The Gonesse is a versatile piece that can be set up as a corner sectional or remodeled into a sunbed large enough for 2 or 3 people. The rust-free aluminum frame and olefin fabric covered cushions make the Gonesse a low-maintenance option. The neutral colour pallette of the cushions create a cozy feeling and still allow you to add that personalized pop of colour with outdoor toss cushions or a warm throw.

Whichever lounger you choose it is best to take it for a “test drive” first and get a feel for it.  Some loungers may come with a lower price tag, but once you lay in them you feel the difference that you are paying for.  You also want to make sure that your lounger will last and be worth the investment.

On the Side 

When planning this space, you need to consider tables.  A side table for your luxury lounge space should be large enough to hold a good book and a glass of your favourite beverage. Any larger, and you start to may inadvertently create a cluttered look.

Again, the options for a side table are endless both in material and style. So, how does one decide? Consider a few of these points:

 

  • Do you want to add some visual “pop” with your side tables - creating a focal point or do you already have this and you prefer your side table to compliment the existing pieces, and perhaps blend in with the feel of the space?
  • Would it be beneficial to have your table double as a stool or footstool?
  • Are you looking to match materials or layer different materials for an interesting dynamic?

Some of our favourites:

 

The Pamir side table which is high on style and function and comes in two hues of synthetic wicker and three shape styles that can be nested or stand alone.

 

The Cero – a resin circular design that doubles as extra seating if required.

 

The Vevi bench – this is a split from the traditional side table but if you are lucky enough to have two loungers in your outdoor space you may prefer a larger, elongated table to share between the two seats for books, beverages and perhaps a plate of hors d’oeuvres.

 

Shade

The all-important element of shade! Just in case you happen to completely relax and maybe even enjoy a quick siesta in your outdoor luxury lounge space, a shade option is highly recommended.  Gone are the days of baby oil and lemon juice hair spritzs!

There is no question that a little sunlight is essential and it is a delicious feeling to curl up and feel the warmth of the sun in your bones.  However, protection from those harmful UV rays is necessary.

Umbrellas come in a variety of options including a cantilever design that eliminates the center pole creating more room and a unified space or a stand-alone option that is secured in a weighted base.  There are even half unbrellas for narrow decks or patio spaces. 

The market style umbrella is more economical than the more structural cantilever design and it is easy to use when you are just sneaking in a quick ‘me-time’ break when the opportunity arises.  The Mito umbrella base is a sturdy base made of granite with wheels and a handle making it easy to maneuver if required – at 110 lbs, this stands up well against wind.

When looking at umbrellas be sure to look for a tilting option.  This allows you to block out the sun at different times of the day no matter where the sun happens to be. Another option to look for when purchasing your umbrella is venting at the top. Be sure that there is venting or flaps at the top of the umbrella allowing the wind to move through.  The Cambre umbrella is a stylish option that has top flaps for air movement as well as a tilting option. 

 

Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. 

- Margaret Peters

 

Final touches 

To achieve the full benefits of mother nature’s free decompression therapy we do recommend that your luxury outdoor lounge space contain some greenery, flowers and/or other natural elements. Depending on where you chose to create your outdoor luxury lounge area you may have already have flowers in your space. If not, even an Elephant Ear plant, fern or Palm plant will give you the added touch of mother nature and are easy to care for.

Now that you have the basic elements needed to create your outdoor luxury lounge space all you need to do is put it all together and sit back and relax! If you are still having some trouble visualizing your space the knowledgeable and helpful staff at Cottage Culture are always happy to help! And remember, making sure to make time for you is not something you should feel ashamed of. When you take a few minutes for yourself each day you feel more recharged and more ready to handle whatever comes your way.

Angela Roth at 12:03 PM
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Staycation Time

STAYCATION TIME

It’s August and all of Europe is on vacation!

Compared to our North American culture of working, even when on vacation it seems(!), Europe embraces vacation. While it may seem crazy to us for some European businesses to close for two weeks during peak tourist season so that the owners can take their own vacation time, the European vacation culture is strong.

Perhaps there is something to be learned from this mindset.  And, if we have the luxury of taking vacation time during our warm and sunny summer months, we should consider their cultural approach to fully embracing our time off!

Summer Vacation in Sweden

Swedes have long embraced the staycation, which is called “hemester”, derived from the Swedish word for home “hem” and holiday “semester”. “Hemester” can mean simply staying put in their home or apartment during their annual summer leave, although it is also commonly used to describe the more general concept of taking a vacation anywhere within one’s own country. A Scandinavian staycation is also a time to connect with nature, and recharge one’s batteries for their long cold, dark winter. Staycation is a time for social get togethers, sunny lunches, evening gatherings and picnics.

Swedes have discovered that taking a lot of vacation actually makes them more productive. When you have time to unwind, destress and enjoy everything in your life, you come back to work refreshed, brimming with energy and ideas, ready to dig in with gusto. Proof of the productiveness in this work/life balance is that Forbes magazine named Sweden the best country for business in 2017. It is also known that the tech and start-up sector is one of the strongest in the world, with investment per capita in Stockholm second only to Silicon Valley.

 

Growth of the staycation mindset in

Canada

World-wide, and certainly in Canada since the Covid-19 pandemic began, people are choosing to ‘staycation’ which makes good sense for that reason alone.  Travel restrictions, airport challenges and fuel prices have all contributed to the ever-increasing popularity of the staycation.

To support tourism and hospitality industries recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic, the Ontario government announced a temporary Ontario Staycation Tax Credit for 2022.  The aim is to encourage families to get out and explore our province, rather than resort to the previous international long-haul travel mindset. This tax credit is a bonus for would-be travellers who are put off by the Covid risk of venturing too far from home.

From our perspective, there is another great reason for choosing a staycation.  We in Southwestern Ontario live in a prime vacation area with plentiful beach and park areas, and gorgeous countryside views to soak in world renown sunsets.  Plus, some of us even have the luxury of working from home in this beautiful area!

Southwestern Ontario Gems

Southwestern Ontario extends North from the Lake Erie shoreline up to the Bruce Peninsula and reaches west from the neighbouring Toronto-Hamilton-Niagara Golden Horseshoe region to Lake Huron - Ontario’s West Coast.

Lake Erie, as the smallest and shallowest of the Great Lakes warms up quickly in the hot summer months, and its shores share many delightful beach towns and provincial parks with us, including Point Pelee with its 20 kilometers of smooth sand on either side of the peninsula, Port Stanley, Port Dover and Long Point, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

The entire western shore of Lake Huron exhibits natural beauty, with long sandy beaches and steep bluffs trailing along the lakeshore interrupted by an occasional river valley.  A string of pretty harbour towns, including Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich, Kincardine and Southampton. One of these towns, Goderich, boasts that it is the prettiest town in Canada!

We who live on Lake Huron like to believe that we have the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. And it’s not just us making theses claims as National Geographic once said that Grand Bend, Ontario has one of the Top Ten most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Permission to Unwind

Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under.

C. JoyBell C.

 

Now that the personal benefits of real vacation time and the secrets of our beautiful geographic area are out, go ahead and take a vacation. Break out of your day-to-day routine! ‘Unplug’ - step away from your cell phone and your laptop. Europeans have proven for us that the world doesn’t end if you go on vacation, and that you are truly more productive afterward. Dive in and embrace this vacation attitude!

The Cottage Culture team dug in to what a staycation means to each of us. For me, the term “vacation” conjures up the warm sunny days of carefree youth stretching out in seemingly endless summers. While an idyllic holiday calls up memories of raucous lake days of splashing kids while watching peacefully from a chaise. And still another, casual patio lounging with summer cocktails and classic playlists.  What we all agree on however, is that right now, what we all crave is a really comfortable lounge chair in the shade of an umbrella with or frankly, without a good book – permission to relax.

Great wellness thinkers of today suggest that slowing down, adopting a mindfulness attitude, appreciating what we have, like our health, our family and our friends, and developing a strong sense of gratitude can awaken and enhance that same child-like enjoyment of the world around us.

 

Create That Space

We can create an inspired place, an oasis, where our vision for our well-being can become our wellbeing reality and we can sink into relaxation and renewal. You don’t have to travel far to accomplish this wellbeing reality…

In fact, as staycations really embrace this idea of taking time for yourself, connecting with nature and enjoying home, it makes sense to create that space to be enjoyed whenever you can escape whether for a moment or a full vacation.

For some, simply creating a tranquil space where you can relax and breathe deeply, shifting out of the day-to-day busy-ness, To-Do lists and regular demands of your life and taking a break from the outside world is enough of a mini staycation to recharge. 

Your staycation oasis is as individual and unique as you are!  For some, this space is a private, sheltered location in their garden, or a spot by a pond or fountain, for others a quiet corner of their deck or patio isolated from main traffic areas, while for still others, a quiet seat overlooking a lake, field or city view.

And sometimes renewal is about lifting your spirit.  It may not be tranquil or private.  It might be about gathering together in a space that offers a welcoming and calming vibe.  Girlfriends lounging on a patio while catching up after a busy spring or a young family lounging sleepily.

So, start planning your own peaceful sanctuary or perfect oasis now…

 

Tips to Creating Your Staycation Space

How do you actually go about creating this wonderful space? Wellness experts have a few points for creating your inspired spot for perfect relaxation. We’ve already mentioned your intention to create an inspired place, which is the starting point. So, focus on creating a space that looks and feels amazing.

  1. Be outdoors.  Begin with an area that is well ventilated.  An outdoor space is obviously an easy solution for fresh air.
  2. Comfortable Seating.  Add a simple seat which is clean and comfortable, whether a chair or chaise, layered cushions or a pouf.
  3. Make it your own. Items that bring you joy or add to your comfort to personalize your space; cushions, comfy throws, favourite shells, crystals or stones in a bowl.
  4. Feed your senses. Waves, birds and cicadas or your favourite music.
  5. Finally, add items that bring a sense of serenity and additional connection to nature, such as adding a water feature, windchimes, plants and flowers.

Outdoor Furniture for That Staycation Space

What better way to enjoy that sense of peace and total relaxation than to stretch out on a chaise lounger or what is sometimes referred to as a “sunbed”? Although, with our health-conscious approach to sun safety now, we should perhaps rename them “shadebeds” and relocate them to cool shaded areas for refreshing relaxation.

Whether a private nook with space only for you, or a row of stylish loungers to share with friends, Cottage Culture offers a great selection of sun/shade beds with the clean aesthetic lines of Scandinavian design.  All combining low maintenance textilene seats that allow rain to pass with a choice of sturdy sustainable teak frames or aluminum frames.

Imagine the Andy chaise, with both an adjustable footrest and backrest, high quality textilene, and softly curved solid teak arms, or the Elati sunbed, a reclining chaise with teak frame and high quality, soft charcoal grey colour textilene seat, without arms, so you can relax in unconstrained comfort.

Layer this with the Kotte stool, or ‘pouf’ that provides a comfortable foot rest and a portable extra seat.  Constructed in Olefin fabric and all-weather foam, it provides functionality for any outdoor setting.

And take the lounger one step further with the flexible Gonesse that can easily flip from sectional to bohemian sunbed piled with textured throws and comfy pillows.

This is a small peak into the many options for creating your perfect oasis available at Cottage Culture.  After giving thought to what your personal sanctuary will be, we would be happy to provide options to make this vision a reality. Enjoy your summer staycation!!

Janet Baird-Jackson at 10:53 AM
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