Blog - Cottage Culture


Alfresco Frinks and Dining

Time to Drink and Dine Alfresco

Who doesn’t love the spontaneity of friends and family dropping over to share the enjoyment of our beautiful summer season. There's something about eating outside on our patio or in the garden that feels a little more special than being indoors. And with surprise guests, you don’t have the stress over planning a visit, or mealtime either. It’s all about enjoyment of the moment!


This warm and sunny time of year reminds me of the relaxed get-togethers in Italy, It also brings to mind Italy’s bountiful lemon harvests along the Amalfi coastline, and more particularly, one of its famous lemon products, Limoncello (although I'm also partial to their heavenly lemon-scented soaps).  Limoncello is essentially a liqueur that is made by macerating the outer peel of a lemon's skin in a neutral grain spirit alcohol for several weeks, the peels then removed, and the alcohol diluted with water and sugar.


Limoncello was often, and still is, produced as a homemade liqueur, with recipes passed down through generations. It is typically served as a digestif either after a meal or with a dessert. Otherwise, limoncello can be served as part of a cocktail, with my favourite being the Limoncello Spritz, a favourite of my friends as well! Whether you have made your own or have a store-bought bottle stashed away for just such occasions, what better way to enjoy the warmth and relaxation of our lovely summer days, than with spontaneously gathered friends enjoying an al fresco party on a deck or patio, and a toast to our warm summer days, with a Limoncello Spritz.


You can easily extend the party into the evening with a quick and easy dinner including favourite flavours of the season … and the best news? It can still be healthy too when you incorporate seasonal vegetables or fruit! To help you, we have included some quick and easy Al Fresco drink and meal ideas to share with friends or family who drop in this summer, and have you spending less time cooking and more time enjoying friends in lovely weather. The following recipes can be found at the end of this blog.


  • Limoncello Spritz
  • A quick and easy pasta dinner
  • Grilled Peach and Brie Smothered Chicken
  • Grilled Asparagus (in foil)

Al Fresco Seating

The Samvaro grouping at Cottage Culture is the perfect choice for these spontaneous get-togethers, as there is a corner sofa, armchairs and a large, taller height coffee table available. It is a modern, yet classic series in anthracite aluminum, with subtle contours creating a pleasant and inviting feel, along with pale grey Olefin fabric (the
European version of Sunbrella) cushions complete with water-repellant lining. The seat height is higher, at 48cm (18 7/8 inches), so it feels more like a dining chair height, which, with the taller height coffee table complete with a stylish storage shelf, makes it perfect for enjoying drinks and snacks.

Or, to keep going with the Al Fresco theme, you could also choose to gather a selection of chairs around an extendable table they don’t need to match! - to seat your clan. Extendable tables are a wonderful way to provide spacious dining for your regular family or friends in your space, yet expand to accommodate, more infrequently, others who may drop-in on occasion, whether spontaneously or for specific holiday meals. Cottage Culture has a selection of these extendable tables in two sizes to accommodate your gathering. And using whatever outdoor chairs you have is an easy way to enjoy the moment with family and friends, free from the stress of organizing an event that needs to be planned down to the finest detail.


To extend that casual and carefree theme, throws or Turkish towels  can make a great table cloth and add a spot of colour. Turkish towels, made from long-fibre 100% Turkish cotton, are washable, making them an easy care solution as a spontaneous table cloth at your festivities. And what’s better value than being multi-use these days? Cottage Culture has a wonderful selection, so you are sure to find something which catches your eye.


Finally, pull out your assorted glasses and dishes – it’s casual after all! - then layer in any candles you have handy. And keep throws at hand to ward off any cool breezes as the evening lengthens.


And now for the recipes to complete your Al Fresco celebration. Once your recipe choices are prepped, spend your time relaxing and enjoying your guests !!


Al Fresco Recipes

Limoncello Spritz

A simple and wonderfully refreshing summer cocktail made from just three ingredients, you’ll definitely enjoy this vinous yet fizzy cocktail! The recipe requires the following:

  • 2 Oz Limoncello

  • 4 Oz Prosecco or sparkling wine

  • 2 Oz Soda Water*

  • 1 Lemon Slice

  • 1 Sprig of Mint

Pour the ingredients, starting with the limoncello and finishing with the sparkling wine, into a large wine glass or tall highball filled with ice. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon slice and mint.

You can also use thyme or basil instead of the mint.

Similarly, consider using champagne or crémant** instead of a prosecco if you prefer something a little drier than prosecco. 



*I choose a lemon lime flavoured sparkling water for the extra citrus flavour

**I tend to choose a drier sparkling wine - usually a Cremant (~10g/l sugar) (or a Cava (such as Codorniu sparkling at 9g/l sugar))


A quick and easy pasta dinner

While pasta may, for some folks, seem to have a bad rap, it can be part of a healthy dinner when paired with a bounty of seasonal vegetables.


Cook your favourite pasta (maybe try a whole wheat option for a bit more fibre!) according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet, and sauté onion and garlic until soft.

Add slices of zucchini, bell peppers, thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, fresh peas, or any other vegetables that might need to be slightly cooked.

When the vegetables are just tender, add drained pasta, your favourite greens and herbs, and stir to combine.

Leftover chicken or sausage would bump up the protein and add another flavour element.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Add a bottle of your favourite red - perhaps a lighter Pinot Noir, or a rosé to toast the summer season and you have the recipe for a convivial celebration of the season. Sit back and enjoy!


Grilled Peach & Brie Smothered Chicken

Source: EatingWell Magazine, July/August 2020


This super-fast and healthy smothered chicken tastes best on the deck with a chilled glass of gewürztraminer. The fruity white pairs nicely with the peaches here.

Recipe Summary


Active: 20 mins  Total: 20 mins  Serves: 4 

Serving Size: 3 ounces chicken and 1 ½ cups salad



1 pound chicken cutlets

½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided

¼ teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided

1 firm ripe peach, halved

4 ounces Brie cheese, sliced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish

1 (5 ounce) package baby arugula



Preheat grill to medium-high.   

Sprinkle chicken with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Oil the grill rack.

Grill peach halves, cut-side down, until lightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice.

Grill the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 160 degrees F, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, and top the chicken with the peach slices and cheese. Grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees F and the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Whisk oil, vinegar, tarragon and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add arugula and toss to coat. Serve the chicken on top of the arugula. Garnish with more tarragon, if desired.


Grilled Asparagus (in foil)

Source: Fresh Off the Grid


This simple grilled asparagus recipe is the perfect side dish to make on your next backyard BBQ.

Sometimes we can get so hyper-focused on the main dish that we completely forget to make a side. That’s one of the reasons we love making this foil-packet grilled asparagus! It’s so incredibly easy to make, requires very few ingredients, and can be ready in virtually no time.


Recipe Summary

Prep Time:  5 mins  Cook: 15 mins  Total: 20 mins  Serves: 4 


Tips for the Best Grilled Asparagus

  • Select medium-sized asparagus spears. Really thick asparagus spears are too fibrous to be enjoyable. 
  • Cook the asparagus in a foil packet for the soft, tender, and lightly charred asparagus.
  • For the best results, grill the asparagus over medium heat.  
  • Don’t overcook. Remove when spears are soft but still retain some structure. 
  • Topping with freshly grated parmesan and lemon zest really takes this recipe to the next level. 


1 lb asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ lemon, zested
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)



  • Preheat a grill to 400F.
  • Trim the tough ends of the asparagus – this could be ½” to 2” depending on size.
  • Roll out a large sheet of foil, followed by an optional, slightly smaller piece of parchment paper.
  • Place the asparagus on top of the foil and parchment. Make sure the asparagus is only stacked 2 stalks high to promote even cooking.
  • Drizzle with the oil, then sprinkle on the salt and garlic powder. Use your hands or a silicone brush to make sure the asparagus is evenly coated.
  • Cover with another sheet of parchment and foil and crimp the sides to create a sealed packet.
  • Place the packet on the grill and cook 6-8 minutes on each side until the asparagus is tender but still has a bit of crunch.
  • Remove form the grill and carefully open the packet (there will be lots of hot steam!). Finish with some lemon zest and grated Parmesan and serve.

This is a super easy dish that comes together in minutes, makes the most of this bountiful seasonal vegetable and is a great way to add a side dish to your meal without dirtying another piece of cookware – perfect for your Al Fresco meals!


Bon Appetit!!


Janet Baird-Jackson at 12:24 PM
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Planning for the first long weekend of Summer

Planning for the 1st Long Weekend - Let the Summer Begin!!

I spent that one lovely warm week in April getting my deck ready for the season, removing winter covers from the metal furniture, washing away all the dregs of the winter, and touching up the stain on the deck where it had gotten worn. And now, if you, like I, have been closely following the Weather Channel meteorologists for their projections of warmer weather, the good news is they are advising that once we are past this unseasonably cool and wet weather, we are moving straight to very warm summer weather! Hooray!


And now, if you are already planning your entertaining for the Victoria Day weekend - our first long weekend which marks the beginning of the summer season  - we are with you !! And to help you get started and take some stress out of both the planning and preparations, we have some recipes to share, including salads, a vegetable dish, cookies and a dessert, much of which can be made ahead. That leaves you only to choose your meats! And that choice is easily accomplished with a visit to our neighbouring Hensall facility, Metzger Meats, whether you fancy gourmet hamburgers, footlong hotdogs (a summer tradition!), smoked pork loin chops, or one of their other specialties, such as skewered pork tenderloin medallions, or a selection of their dry aged beef products. Alternatively, you may wish lighter fare than these meats, however delicious, and so we are including a favourite recipe of ours - grilled mango scallop skewers with a spinach toss.


These recipes are easy to make, and a number may be made ahead, to save you precious time when friends and family assemble on your patio or deck to share with you the first warm weather of the season! These tried and tested recipes, listed here, and detailed further below, will serve you well throughout all the summer months, and be a hit with your guests, so don’t think of them as ‘once-and-done’ recipes!

  • Mango Scallop Skewers with spinach toss – so easy to make

  • Mediterranean Potato Salad - which uses oil, so make-ahead, and longer lasting

  • Lesley’s Bok Choy Salad, a treat which provides vegetable goodness and sweet, tangy crunch

  • Green Beans Gremolata – another easy, make ahead dish to just assemble last minute

  • Sandra’s Secret Recipe for Dessert – your secret weapon !

  • Doubletree’s signature chocolate chip cookies – which Doubletree graciously shared publicly during the pandemic – and allows for freezing the dough and baking from frozen

Mango Scallop Skewers with Spinach Toss


Hands on time: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Makes: 4 servings


The combination of sweet mango and buttery scallops makes this dish an easy dinnertime option.



24 frozen jumbo scallops, thawed

1 mango peeled, pitted and cut in sixteen (16) ¾ inch (2 cm) cubes

2 tbsp butter

2 tsp mustard


Spinach Toss:

6 cups baby spinach

1 sweet red pepper, julienned

1/3 cup peeled julienned mango

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice

1tsp Dijon mustard

Pinch each salt and pepper


Alternately thread 3 scallops and 2 mango cubes onto each of 8 metal or soaked wooden skewers.


In a small bowl, gradually whisk butter into mustard; brush half over 1 side of the skewers. Place, buttered side down, on greased grill over medium-high heat. Close lid and grill for 2 minutes. Brush with remaining butter mixture; turn and grill until scallops are opaque, about 2 minutes.


Spinach Toss: Meanwhile, combine spinach, red pepper, mango and red onion; arrange on a platter. Whisk together oil, lemon juice Dijon mustard, salt and pepper; drizzle over salad. Top with skewers.


Baked alternative: On greased, foil-lined baking sheet in 400-degree F (200 C) oven, bake skewers, turning once, until scallops are opaque, about 4 minutes.


About 249 calories per serving.


Mediterranean Potato Salad


Preparation time: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes (plus chilling time)

Serves: 8




2 pounds redskin potatoes, cooked, cooled and cut into cubes

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered

3 green onions, washed, thinly sliced



Place the cooked, cubed potatoes in a large bowl.

In a measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing mixture over the potatoes and stir gently. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and green onions and gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours to allow flavours to blend.


Note: if you’d like to soften the ready-to-eat sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe, place them in the bottom of a colander and drain the cooled potatoes over them.


About 137 calories per serving


Lesley’s Bok Choy Salad


Cooking time: 15 minutes

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cuisine: Asian/Chinese




1/3 cup butter

1 tbsp sesame (or poppy) seeds

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1 head Bok Choy lettuce

3 tbsp soy sauce

1/3 cup vinegar

2/3 cup oil

2/3 cup sugar

1 pkg ramen noodles




Put sliced almonds and sesame (or poppy) seeds into a baking dish along with one package of broken up ramen noodles. (Do not add the space package from the noodles!) Melt the butter and add to the noodle/almond mixture and stir. Brown the mixture in the oven. Allow to cool before serving, and add as a garnish to the salad.


At least two hours before serving, mix the dressing: combine sugar, oil, vinegar and soy sauce in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and melt the sugar, stirring regularly. Pour mixture into a dish to cool. Refrigerate before serving.


Wash one head of Bok Choy lettuce. Chop the leaves into bite-size pieces. Wrap in a tea towel to dry the leaves.


Combine the lettuce, dressing and garnish at the time you are serving the salad. (Dressing and garnish may be made ahead and stored.)


Green Beans Gremolata


You can blanch the green beans and make the gremolata in advance, storing them separately in the refrigerator. Then just before dinner, you can reheat the beans and toss on the gremolata. What could be easier!




1-pound French green beans (haricots vert), trimmed

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)

1 tsp grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

3 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 ½ tbsp good olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and blanch 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain beans in a colander and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green colour.


Place pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over low heat and cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Set aside.


Gremolata: toss garlic, lemon zest, parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts together in a small bowl and set aside.


When ready to serve, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet, over medium-high heat. Drain beans and pat dry. Add beans to skillet and sauté, turning frequently, 2 minutes, until coated with olive oil and heated through. Remove from heat, add gremolata, and toss well. Sprinkle with ¾ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper to taste and serve hot.


Note: A charming Italian friend uses any Gremolata which may be left over, on fresh pasta.


Sandra’s Secret Recipe for Dessert


Preparation time: all of 10 minutes or less!

Total time: overnight chilling after assembly

Serves: can be sized according to your number of guests


Your secret weapon! A very flexible, quick and easy dessert recipe, which can be sized according to your number of guests.




Equal proportions of whipped cream and plain yoghurt

A selection of tangy fruit, such as:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Black Currants



Put your choice of berries - something with a bit of tang! -  in the bottom of your serving bowl

Whisk the whipping cream to the same consistency as the yoghurt. Gently blend the yoghurt and whisked whipping cream together and pour over the berries.

Put a good layer of brown sugar (to your taste!) on top and then place in the refrigerator overnight.

Presto – delicious!


DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe


Makes 26 cookies


½ pound butter, softened (2 sticks)

¾ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 ¼ cups flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch cinnamon

2 2/3 cups Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 3/4 cups chopped walnuts 


Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. 


Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl. 


With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix. 


Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.


Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. 


Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 


Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.


Cook’s note: You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.

These delicious recipies are best served alfreso! Cottage Culture has a variety of outdoor dining tables, outdoor dining chairs, outdoor lounge options and many more items to help you entertain outdoors this patio season. Need help finding the perfect outdoor patio table and outdoor dining chairs for your space? Visit our blogs How to choose the perfect outdoor patio table.  and How to choose the perfect chair for helpful information and tips.


Reach out to us or pop by our showroom! Looking for patio inspiration? Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest!

Janet Baird-Jackson at 12:46 PM
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How to choose the perfect outdoor patio table

How to choose the perfect outdoor patio table

Planning an Outdoor Dining Table experience – let the Enjoyment Begin!

Are you, like I am, impatient for lovely weather after that summer-like ‘teaser’ week starting at Easter? I’m growing anxious to get outside and share warm, hospitable Al Fresco meals over a big table with family and friends! Whether the outdoor space is a city balcony or a sprawling shaded garden, dining outdoors is a much-anticipated ritual during the warmer months in our area. While we await that beautiful weather – the Weather Channel meteorologists indicate that after a cooler and wetter than average spring in Southwestern Ontario, we’re going to jump right to summer(!) – we can use the time to plan our outdoor dining space for those future get-togethers. So, where to start?


Whether you’re entertaining or just enjoying a cup of coffee and snack solo, there’s nothing quite like Al Fresco dining. An outdoor dining setting will let you enjoy meals with family and friends while also soaking up the view and the fresh air. It’s the perfect setting for Sunday afternoon cookouts with family, hosting drinks and dinner with a group, or a few close friends, and so many other forms of sunshine entertainment that centre around food and our wonderful outdoors.


You can make your patio your new favourite dining hangout with our suggestions, below. Transforming your backyard or patio into a dining area involves very little effort. Following our April 6th blog, you will have already given some thought to the style which will suit, and the space you have available. Now let’s consider in a bit more detail.


Make a List of Needs

Determining the proper setup is a key element to ensure your dining arrangement fits your space, and accommodates both your day-to day and any entertaining needs. So, make a list of the activities you’d like to do in the dining space and use it as a guide to determine what type of table will suit your lifestyle. Do you plan to host your next family get-together, a big dinner party, your children’s birthday parties or their graduation dinners in the space?  Or are you envisioning long, convivial meals with a few close friends, or quiet candle-lit dinners with your significant other? If it’s just you and/or your immediate family and close friends that will typically use the space, you can create a cozier setting. If you love to entertain you might want to consider an area with as large a dining table as possible.


Consider Your Location

In considering location, it’s ideal to situate the outdoor eating area as close as possible to an entry point to your kitchen, to lessen steps with dishes and food. Plus having easy access to the house is helpful for quick trips to the washroom. You will also want to consider the proximity of your table in relation to the barbecue, considering the heat and fumes.


In built-up areas, it’s also important to be considerate of neighbours who may be in close proximity, with any noise from your outdoor dining area, whether you have outdoor speakers, or hold gatherings which extend late into the evening. Consider establishing a sound break, whether spatial or physical, if possible, between your property and your neighbours. You will also want to consider how sound carries into your home, as you don’t want your table situated under the open window of a child who goes to bed early!


Determine the Space Available

If you’re like me, you want people to be comfortable and linger over dinner for an evening of easy conversation. And that comfort begins with having the space to accommodate comfortable chairs, so it’s important to measure your space before selecting a table and chairs.


Standard dining arrangements may range from three to nine pieces, including a table and two to eight outdoor chairs. A three-piece bistro set is perfect for two people to drink and dine in a small space. Five to seven pieces works for most families today, or small group entertaining, and will fit a variety of outdoor spaces, whether a medium sized deck or poolside space. For those with larger families or who love to entertain bigger groups on a regular basis, nine pieces may be the preferred choice. And where space is a bit constrained, a useful option is one of the newer extendable tables, which can be retracted for regular use, but expanded to fit a larger group when the need arises, and with different choices of table top to coordinate with your space.


Size-wise, dining tables should be at least 30” to 36” wide. Three feet or wider provides enough room for platters, bowls, pitchers and centerpieces as well as dishes, place settings, glasses and silverware. Alternatively, if you have a smaller space with a 30” wide table, you might consider serving meals buffet style, or using a sideboard for your serving ware. Also, the table design itself may affect the number of people you can seat at it. For example, a table with four legs may be able to accommodate a different number of chairs than a table with a trestle or pedestal base.


When you consider comfortable space, the ‘rule of thumb’ is to leave 36” of space around a dining table on all sides that have chairs. Measure the space between the edge of your table and other furniture or walls. Three feet provides enough room for someone to walk behind the chairs while others are seated or to comfortably pull the chair out to sit down. It’s also plenty of room to open cabinets or drawers that are nearby. If the space is less than 36”, you might be bumping into things or be uncomfortable. However, this 36” is just a guide; if you have a smaller outdoor space, it’s possible to comfortably cut this down and work with a 30” to 32” spacing on each table side, by choosing smaller chairs, without arms for example, or a bench for one or both sides of the table, using armchairs only on the ends, like host and hostess chairs.


Width-wise, most chairs range between 16” and 24” wide, though some armchairs may be as wide as 30”. The general rule of thumb is to allow 24 inches of space for every person gathered around your table. However, if the chairs are 24” wide or wider, add an additional 6” to the total width of your chair for the comfort of your loved ones, as you won’t want people knocking elbows while eating! If space is limited, and you need to sit a specific number of guests, consider using side chairs all the way around your table. You might also consider using an outdoor bench on one or both sides of your table, as you can usually seat more people on a bench than the number of chairs you can fit on one side of a table.

The following schematic, from, even though an indoor setting, provides a visual of how to take the measurements for planning your space.


If perusing a data table is more your preference, the following table provides a general seating guide. We are assuming 24” per person, to allow for comfort at the table.


Maximize the View

Locate your outdoor dining area so that you and your guests can enjoy the view, whether looking out over a lush garden, a water feature or a lake, or sitting in your backyard looking back at your house softly lit for night. Or if you live on a hilltop, the world below would look lovely at night when gazing at it from your outdoor dining table.


And don’t forget the view across your dining table. If you are hanging an overhead outdoor ‘chandelier’, it should be hung a minimum of 30” above the table to keep sight lines open. However, it should not be hung too high or it will detract from the cohesive feel of the dining setting. A good rule of thumb is to hang the lighting between 24” – 32” from the table. Also try to keep the pendant or chandelier centred over the table  or at least 6” from the edge, so gusts don’t hit their heads on the fixture.

Go for Easy-Care Outdoor Furniture

You can put together your own combination of chairs and table, following the Scandinavian eclectic style esthetic, or choose a series that includes both dining chairs and a dining table in the same style. Your choices also include the easy-care material you want in both your table and chairs.


In tables, you can choose from solid, sustainable teak, or powder coated aluminum frame tables, some of which are extendable, and afford the choice of an aluminum top or high-pressure laminate top in a concrete-look or wood-look.


There is a wide range of chair choices including powder coated aluminum, or a powder coated aluminum frame with textilene sling, all-weather synthetic rattan in various styles and natural tones with coordinating cushions, solid teak, teak frame with nylon cording, and moulded plastic in designer styles.

Invest in Quality

Cottage Culture has stocked all high quality, uniquely designed outdoor furniture. The Scandinavian design colours are neutral greys, charcoal, oatmeal and black, so will serve you well over the long term, and can easily brightened with a pop of colour in outdoor rugs, cushions or throws.



These guidelines will help you find the right fit for your outdoor dining experience. Once you’ve selected your choice, organized the setting and planned your menu, you and your guests will be able to sit most comfortably through meals and parties, and totally immerse yourselves in the pure enjoyment of family and friends.


Visit Cottage Culture to view their selection of stylish outdoor dining tables and outdoor dining chairs.  Our team of furniture experts can assist you in finding your perfect  outdoor dining table and dining chairs for your outdoor space. With free styling and layout consultations and white glove delivery service we are here to help you create your personal backyard oasis! 


Reach out to us or pop by our showroom! Looking for patio inspiration? Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest!


Angela Roth at 4:50 PM
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Easy ways of protecting patio furniture

Easy Ways of Protecting Patio Furniture

Patio furniture is one of your best friends during summer and early fall, serving as pieces of personal luxury that allow you to relax with family and friends. It only makes sense you treat them like kin, too.


Unlike some clan members, patio furniture isn’t too fussy – it just needs some attention and TLC – nothing fancy. Keep reading for easy tips to keep that patio furniture happy, healthy, and looking like new. 


The Elements

Being outside, your patio furniture is always exposed to wind, rain, sun, dust … oh, and bird droppings. Fear not, we have some quick remedies you can try to guard your outdoor furniture.


Keep it Clean

It seems simple enough, and you are probably already doing it, but keeping your patio furniture clean is one of the best ways of giving it a long life and protecting it against the elements. Depending on the furniture material, you can either use a special cleaning mix, or wipe it off with a soft cloth dipped in a mix of dish soap and warm water. Do this once a week, or right after a rainy day, and it will keep the furniture shiny and new. Make sure to check your manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning schedules and materials to use.

Protective Covers 

Keeping patio furniture wrapped shields it from harsh weather conditions and keeps that bird droppings from making contact. So make sure you tuck the outdoor items in under their covers for the night or if you see dark clouds approaching. Additionally, you can keep them under an extended awning, so they’re under a shade even if you miss covering them.


Use Wind-Blocking Barriers

It may seem difficult to block wind from harming your patio furniture, but there’s a natural solution. Plant a row of bushes around your patio to create a break in the wind onslaught. You can choose one that has brightly coloured flowers that look nice when you’re using that furniture during summer.


Anchor it Down

Easy-to-use clamps add an extra layer of protection from wind by holding down outdoor furniture. These anchors can be quickly unhooked when you need to move the furniture. But make sure you pin the pieces back in place once you’re done using them. You can also use the same anchors points to lock down the furniture so thieves don’t get to it, but more on that later.


Weigh it Down

This may seem a bit extreme, but wind can be pretty strong. That’s why you may need a stronger solution. Keeping your furniture weighed down by using sandbags is an easy way of preventing it from knocking around your backyard during a windstorm.


Weather-Proofing Techniques 

Just as you coat yourself in sunscreen when you step out into the summer sun, you can coat your outdoor furniture, too. Use a store-bought protector to layer metal or plastic furniture. A good ol’ coat of paint for wooden furniture will do the trick. And you can change colours every other year to give it a fresh look.


Natural Ways to Keep Critters Away

Spiders love to crawl under wicker furniture or weave a web around your wooden patio pieces. It’s cosy and it’s one of the best places to build nests. But as much as it’s nature’s paradise, you want to keep your patio furniture protected and cobweb free.


We have some effortless ways of keeping these creatures at bay.


Use Strong Scent Sprays

Most critters are disgusted by strong smells. Both orange peels and cedar chips exude strong smells that help keep spiders away. If you don’t want to leave orange peels lying around the patio, you can rub them or other citrus peels on the furniture.


There’s another simple solution that you may have lying around: essential oils. Find that peppermint or tea tree oil, mix it in water and spray on your patio furniture regularly. Peppermint has the additional benefit of keeping away other unwanted pests, like mice. The good thing about using essential oils is that they not only keep away spiders but they also smell pleasant to humans.


If you want a stronger solution, you can mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with a cup of pepper to create a spray-on solution. It may not smell as nicely, but it works just as well.


Anti-Theft Solutions

Patio furniture is usually considered low-hanging fruit because it’s a high value item that’s easy to grab. The lightness of the furniture and the ability to be able to just toss it over the fence make it easy targets. All the thief has to do is reach over your side door and flip that clasp open and walk in to grab a piece and run off with it.


Lock Backyard Doors

You can stop theft by adding a lock to any side-lane access doors that lead into your backyard. Oh, and make it part of your nightly routine to check that all doors are locked. Thieves don’t get in and your furniture stays in place.


Use a Steel Cable

Steel ropes are easily available at any hardware store and can be used to tie down furniture to a nearby anchor. It’s just like locking up your bike when you go for a ride. It’s a simple investment in keeping your outdoor furniture safe. Tug as they may, thieves won’t be able to get away with your patio items anytime soon.


Install Security Cameras

This is a no sweat way of keeping your furniture secure. Security cameras are easily available, mostly just a click away, and can be an effective way of curbing furniture theft. Make sure you place the camera in a visible spot. Although it seems counterintuitive, but doing so gives the burglar pause and adds to their worry about getting away quietly.


Motion-Activated Lights

A nifty feature to extend camera security can be motion-activated lights. Bright lights will startle the robber, leading them to think someone is about to step outside any second. You can enhance the effect by considering flashing lights. As an additional level, you can also add a loud noise to the whole package. Some creative people have also used motion-activated water spray machines to keep thieves at bay. It’s a nasty surprise when all you’re expecting is a flash of light.


Post Signage about Guard Dog

A low-level barrier you can add to your patio furniture line of defense is signage that indicates the presence of your guard dog. You can boost this feature by adding a motion-activated barking track that can frighten the thieves away, and Fido won’t even have to do a thing. Oh, and for full effect, leave a big food bowl and a thick leash lying around to give the impression of a massive guard dog.


Make Your Fence Taller

The general MO thieves use is to jump over your fence and then throw furniture over to the other side. But if the fence is so tall that they can’t jump over it, your furniture stays put. This solution could be a bit pricey, but it’s worth the money. Adding a row of thorny bushes along the inside of the fence puts an extra hindrance in the way of anyone trying to jump into your backyard.


Create a Neighbourhood Watch

Another way of making sure your patio furniture is well protected is to create a neighbourhood watch. That means, anytime a neighbour notices something suspicious in their own backyard or in someone else’s, they can sound the virtual alarm and alert everyone to beware. This works out as a friendly solution for better neighbour relations and keeping furniture from being taken. Nobody has to run after any thieves, but they can help out by sharing information so measures can be taken or enhanced. It’s a win-win solution for everyone.

Lock Away that Furniture

It may be overkill, but it’s likely the best way of ensuring thieves can’t get to your patio furniture. It’s good to get into a habit of stowing away your pillows into a box or in the mudroom, but think about extending that care to valuable patio furniture as well by putting it away at night or if you’re going away on vacation.


Mark Your Furniture

This is a protection feature that lasts beyond the loss. Taking a UV pen to mark your furniture makes it easier to identify after it’s taken. Visible only under special light, this undetectable method makes it easier for you to go in and pinpoint your pieces if the police recovers any items.


Keep a List and Insure it

Add this extra feature to ensure you can quickly recover from the loss. Make a full list of all the outdoor furniture you own, noting the complete retail value. Call up your insurance company and tell them about this addition to your assets. It will likely have no effect on your insurance cost, but it might help with damage recovery.

Angela Roth at 4:01 PM
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How to make the most of your outdoor space

How To Make The Most Of Your Outdoor Space


As we start to see and feel hints of spring in the air, I know I begin to dream of living outdoors again, as do many in our beautiful Southwestern Ontario, I’m sure! And we’re not alone, as reports indicate that in 2023, outdoors is the new indoors! Is there anything nicer that sitting outside with friends on a warm summer evening? Or perhaps you’re recalling a wonderful outdoor long-table feast in an orchard or olive grove in a far-flung destination during a special vacation? And now we’re dreaming of recreating that warmth and ambience in our own environment!


Our outdoor environments are becoming increasingly important to us and the line between indoors and outdoors is blurring, especially as architects and designers are both renovating, and building new homes, with multiple patio/terrace doors to create seamless living between indoors and out. What used to be a simple patio now becomes an extra living room where life unfolds: we relax, cook and socialize throughout the day and long into our wonderful summer evenings and well into our gorgeous autumns.


Never before have we enjoyed our outdoors spaces as much as in recent years. Most of us have been spending a lot more time at home, so it has become even more important of late that we can truly enjoy it. During the pandemic we had to find new ways to meet and socialize, and had moved many activities that we used to do indoors to gardens, courtyards and patios. However, this is a trend that started even before the pandemic. I don’t know about your choices, but this idea of being outdoors in nice weather started for me many, many years ago, in a different job. I had to put in extra time on weekends and would choose to sit at my outdoor table, working on the computer, just so that I might enjoy the warmer temperatures, with the sun shining and enjoying the sounds and scents of late spring. And the desire to move our indoor spaces outdoors – outdoor homing – has only grown stronger, increasing post-pandemic. More and more people are creating patios that extend the season and become an extra room that can be used even when it’s raining or windy.


But how to get the most out of your outdoor space? Let us at Cottage Culture help you create your perfect outdoor environment to enjoy, both in summer and during the cooler months of the year. The secret is really to think about how you want to use your outdoor space, what features you need and how you can turn the room into several rooms.


The following framework of ideas on design, form and function, what to consider and how to best decorate to suit your lifestyle is a starting point for your consideration.

  1. Let your house lead the way.

  2. Available space and ‘zoning’.

  3. Functional Considerations - lifestyle?

    1. Family – kids and dogs?

    2. Entertaining?

    3. Time for maintenance?

  4. Colour and mood.

  5. Finishing Touches.

Now to expand on these a bit:


Letting Your House Lead the Way

We all live in different kinds of homes, whether single detached residential homes, country properties, condos, town homes, high rises or vacation properties. In addition, they have all been built at different times, and reflect, at least somewhat, some of the architectural style detail of their era. In this way, the style gives you a lead on the style to consider for your outdoor space.


Many Older homes have more ornamented style and are set in mature gardens, which are quite possibly lacking a purpose-built patio. However, there is likely a use pattern that has emerged over time, which defines the common outdoor converging space or spaces. That’s why a furniture set that’s easy to move to different places in the garden would suit this environment. Depending on available space, it could be a round cafe table with compact chairs or a large modern solid-wood table with synthetic rattan chairs. Country properties are likely to fit this category, with similar architectural detail, but perhaps fewer organized garden spaces.


Townhomes and townhome-style condominiums are likely to be more streamlined  in terms of both construction and floor plans. Lots of outdoor space is more rare, so consider smaller arrangements here. You don’t need to choose furniture styled to the era of construction; rather, choose something based on the feel you want to create.


Functional highrises tend to have understated architecture with clean shapes and no frills or decoration, in contract (and perhaps reaction) to the ornate home design which preceded it. Balconies tend to be streamlined as well, with limited space for furniture. Here, you might choose powder-coated metal furniture, or for a cosier feel, choose wooden furniture instead.


Modern single detached homes share many similarities in architectural style to the functionalist buildings of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Possibly more angular structures, lots of large glass windows, patio or garden doors and open concept floor plans are typical. These homes are more likely to have one or more generously sized outdoor spaces facing different directions, and perhaps constructed of differing materials, whether wood decks or stone or concrete patios. With more choices for space, you can afford to assign different functions to the different spaces around your home: a bigger dining set adjacent to an outdoor kitchen, a generous seating area for socializing, some sun loungers with umbrellas clustered together – perhaps near a pool, or maybe a few lounge chairs and side tables in a pergola to the south.


Older cottages, built many years ago, tend to be simple in shape, with a gable roof which may have lower profile pitch, and may be wood-sided or built of logs, with smaller windows. The outdoor space here is similar to the turn-of-the-century house – a mature garden that doesn’t necessarily have a purpose-built outdoor space. Here, classic wood furniture is an excellent choice. However, along the Lake Huron shore, many of these old cottages are now being torn down in favour new ‘Cottage’ builds which tend to resemble the modern home, noted above, with a number of generous outdoor spaces facing different directions.

Cottage Culture has a wide selection of outdoor furniture styles, from classic, traditional, tailored, to streamlined modern pieces for all home styles and tastes.


Available Space and ‘Zoning’

As noted above, consideration of our home’s style will have given many clues to the availability of space, as well as style, for outdoor furniture. You also need to ask yourself if you are planning to add any deck or patio space to what exists? Or are you planning a pergola, or expanding a garden area for seating of some sort? Defining your dimensions will help refine the scale and amount of furniture for your space. Depending on the number of outdoor spaces, you can consider creating separate spaces or ‘zones’ for different functions.


Now you need to consider how you your family and friends will use the space. Fortunately, Cottage Culture’s outdoor furniture cushions are made with Olefin fabric, the European version of Sunbrella, which is sun and stain resistant – good for kids and pets!


Do you have a core group for most meals, but need to expand sometimes? You might wish to consider an extendible table, which comes in two sizes, making it easy to accommodate more people at your dining table. Since Scandi design is know for it’s fabulous eclectic style, feel comfortable in mixing various style chairs, dishes and glassware to accommodate more people at your table - it will be unexpected but perfectly designed!


Consider, also, your available time and appetite for any maintenance of your outdoor furniture. Would you rather spend your time entertaining than oiling your teak table, or covering or storing cushions? You may wish to choose a metal table rather than teak, and metal or synthetic rattan chairs or ones with textilene, rather than chairs with cushions. The following is a quick summary of various materials’ Features and Advantages to help you think through your choices.



  • lightweight and vary stable

  • essentially maintenance-free

  • sustainable

Stainless Steel:

  • rust-resistant   

  • robust with high stability               

  • easy to maintain

Synthetic Rattan:

  • essentially maintenance-free                   

  • natural appearance with an aluminum frame

  • highly weather-resistant

Teak, and other woods:

  • beautiful natural material                           

  • each wood type has unique properties                                  

  • requires care

  • highly weather-resistant


  • natural material             

  • should be kept under a cover    

  • easy to clean with water and a little liquid dish soap

Colour and Mood

The most-used Scandinavian colors are neutral and monochromatic – bright, warm whites with black and oatmeal, which provide design longevity for your outdoor furniture investment. Splashes of color are added as accents: lush pinks, true blue – think the semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli grayish blues, and colors rooted in nature, like sage, are the most popular in Scandinavian design, but choose what suits your environment.


Lighting can help you set the mood and create cozy spaces as the evening gets dark. You can hang a string of small outdoor lights or a woven pendant light over your outdoor table, or choose woven floor model lighting for more ambient uplighting.

Finishing Touches

Make your outdoor spaces even more inviting with an outdoor rug, and a few throw pillows and blankets to complement your furniture – a trick that will make your space feel relaxed and cozy. For you dining table, Chilewich placemats are easy-care and available in a variety of colours to add vibrancy to your table, and the Turkish cotton napkins, also in a variety of colours, are easy-care and sustainable.


In summary, by taking the time to think about your home, and develop the ‘big picture’ for your space, with a strong, edited point of view, all the larger pieces of furniture and smaller details will fit together beautifully. Then, let your home grow outdoors, with space for both relaxation and socializing! We at Cottage Culture are happy to help!

Janet Baird-Jackson at 3:44 PM
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