Cottage Culture




Creating your own backyard escape

Creating You own Backyard Escape


Where to Begin? 

These last few days of sunny, warmer weather that we have enjoyed (plus the absence of those pesky snow flurries, finally!) has us beginning to plan our summer outdoor life. I’m sure we’re not alone in dreaming of lovely summer days in the sunshine, relaxing in a comfortable chair or lounge, with an iced beverage and a good book!


Turning your backyard into a relaxing retreat can be a wonderful way to create a tranquil and inviting space. Wondering just how to achieve your vision? And how to ensure it looks stylish?

We all want our patio, decks and backyard areas to look like the enticing versions we see in the pages of outdoor design magazines, but often are unsure how to elevate our own spaces to a place where they look thoughtfully planned. 


You can create your own escape! The following series of steps may help you in your creative thinking about the transformation of your backyard into a peaceful oasis. More thoughts on  styling follow this multi-point list.


Plan and Design:

  • Assess the available space and consider the layout, size and any existing features.
  • Determine the purpose of your retreat. Do you want a space for dining, entertaining, gardening, quiet reading or contemplation, or a combination of activities?
  • Sketch a rough scaled layout or create a digital design to visualize the elements you want to incorporate. You might also consider working with a professional designer to create a detailed plan.

Create a Focal Point:​

  • Choose a focal point that will draw attention and create a sense of serenity. It could be a water feature like a fountain or pond, a beautiful tree, a sculpture or a seating area.
  • Organize the design so that the focal point is in a visually appealing location where it can be easily seen and enjoyed.

Define Spaces:

  • Consider dividing your backyard into different functional zones based on your needs, or how you will use the space, plus space available. For example, you could have separate areas for dining, conversation, gardening, lounging and relaxation.
  • Use hedges, fences, pergolas, lattice, or even a row of smaller evergreens in planters to create physical boundaries and provide privacy for each space.
  • If the space available is limited, consider your key priorities to help in deciding how you might create a multi-function space.

Seating and Comfort:

  • Select comfortable outdoor furniture the suits your style and the purpose of each area. Where space is limited, opt for seating which will address more than one need, such as the relaxed conversation seating/dining selection found in Cottage Culture’s Samvaro collection.
  • Opt for weather-resistant materials like sustainable teak, all-weather wicker or metal such as powder coated aluminum. Choose UV and stain resistant, all weather outdoor fabrics such as Sunbrella or Olefin, the European version of Sunbrella.
  • Provide ample seating options including chairs, benches or loungers to accommodate different preferences and activities.

Landscaping and Plantings:

  • Choose plants and flowers that promote relaxation and a calming atmosphere. Consider using aromatic herbs like lavender or plants with soft textures and soothing colours. If there is a very hot, high sun area which destroys plants, consider artificial greenery.
  • Incorporate a variety of foliage to add depth and interest to your backyard. Include a mix of trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Consider mixing artificial plants with live plants for more variety and interest.
  • Create a balance between open spaces and areas with more dense vegetation to ensure a harmonious environment.


  • Install appropriate outdoor lighting to add ambience and extend the useability of your backyard retreat into the evening.
  • Utilize a combination of ambient lighting such as twinkly fairy lights, strings of Edison-bulb-type lights, or lanterns, and task lighting for specific areas like pathways, tables and food areas.
  • Consider adding candle lanterns or torches for a warm inviting glow.
  • If space allows, consider a firepit for warmth and charm, as well as cooking opportunities to extend the use of your space earlier and later in the season.

Canvas Shade:

  • Consider a deck umbrella, a sun (sail) shade, or an awning, either attached to your home, or one which perhaps forms the ‘ceiling’ of a pergola, to add some necessary respite from direct sun for your company or yourself.

Permanent Shade:

  • If you find yourself using your space more than anticipated, then as time and budget permit, you may wish to consider adding a permanent shade structure - perhaps attached to your home, or a gazebo to create a focal point in your backyard.

Final Touches:

  • Add outdoor rugs, side tables and/or coffee table, a footstool or two, cushions, and throws to enhance comfort and create a cozy ambience.
  • Layer in other personal touches such as storage baskets, wall art, outdoor speakers and tabletop accessories to truly make the space your own.

Thoughts on Style 

Considering Your Budget

A stylish outdoor space doesn’t necessarily require a large budget, and it truly is all about the styling! Timelessness never goes out of style, and there’s nothing better for the budget than that!


While it may be tempting to try to save money on the seemingly more utilitarian parts of a project, it’s something you can live to regret. To borrow a fashionista’s way of justifying a bigger spend, you have to consider the cost per use. Selecting well made, clean-lined, architectural outdoor furniture in neutral shades will ensure a classic, comfortable look that will last for years.


Alternatively, you might consider outdoor furniture that doesn’t look like outdoor furniture, but rather, pieces that could be chic enough to be brought indoors for the winter season, providing more use throughout the year for your initial investment.


Or if you are looking for a slight reinvigoration while keeping your existing well-loved furniture, you can freshen up your existing layout with a statement piece or two. Doing so would be to adopt the Scandinavian aesthetic, which leans into styling with a fabulous eclectic mix that is unexpected but perfectly designed.


Another approach, particularly if undertaking a lot of landscaping, whether hardscaping and/or gardening in addition to adding or updating furniture, is to start small. Choose that portion of your overall plan which is your priority area and work at it over time, providing an even greater sense of accomplishment when complete.


Any of these options provides you with an enduring investment certain to bring a lifetime of enjoyment and the timeless aesthetic you want. Then all you require if you wish to freshen the look over time is to change up the pillows or throws, not replace all the furniture.

Choosing a Style

In choosing a style, your outdoor furniture choices will reflect your personal style and taste, whether teak frame, all-weather wicker or powder-coated aluminum with either all-weather cushions or mesh sling styles. Or you might choose furniture that mimics the style and design of the décor within your home for a truly cohesive look.


If you are shopping for new furniture, the Scandinavian design outdoor furniture at Cottage Culture, with its beautiful, clean lines, minimalism, functionality and neutral, monochromatic colours which harmonize with the outdoors, fits this classic design aesthetic.  This furniture provides the timelessness and longevity of a look you will enjoy for many years to come.


Organic and natural materials often take pride of place in Scandinavian design, reflecting the Scandinavian and Nordic countries relationship to nature. Wood, lightened to fit with a neutral color palette, stone, cotton, and wool feature heavily in Scandinavian design, as do plants.


This clean but warm theme, alongside the calming nature of a large, light-filled space without any clutter, is partly why Scandinavian design is so popular. Don’t you already feel more calm and relaxed, and breathing more deeply, as you read this?


A Few Other Budget conscious Style Tricks

Use a tray to display

A styling trick is to group items together on a tray; examples would be on a footstool with books and candles, or a side table with lantern and coaster for your iced tea. This strategy makes a space feel more considered and adds another layer of texture and colour too!


Add a pop of red

A flash of red in your exterior does for your space what a good red lip does for your outfit (Our 99-year old mother swears by her red lipstick, and who’s to argue with her?) – it delivers a good dose of dopamine, while remaining classic. As such, it’s a standard designer trick – though you might not have consciously noticed.  That pop of red elevates a space by adding an unexpected and contrasting element, allowing the eye to rest on one area or one piece in the space. Having a statement red accessory can break up a space and stop it from feeling too ‘put-together’. If looking for ideas, you could paint a back door red, or for a smaller change, consider accessorizing with a red footstool or candlesticks. You might also consider using live plants in bright bold reds to provide dimension and contrast, whether in planters, hangings baskets or plantings in your garden. A few fabulous choices include ranunculus, lipstick plants, or easy-care plants such as azaleas available in bold red colours or geraniums.


Save on cushions and throws

Breathe some fresh newness into your rooms with the addition of some throws and toss cushions, whether in muted Scandi tones, brighter splashes of colour or some pattern.


Cottage Culture has an assortment of Pokoloko throws currently on sale, and all-weather cushions which will add freshness to your interior and can move outside as the weather warms up. The all-weather fabric is easy clean, a handy feature with kids, pets and parties!


If you are still feeling tentative or have questions the staff at Cottage Culture is here to help, offering free styling advice and layouts of the furniture for your outdoor space. Visit our showroom in Hensall, Ont. to sit in and get a feel for your new patio furniture before you make your purchase. With free delivery (within an hour distance from Hensall) and installation our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to enjoy your personal outdoor retreat!

Janet Baird-Jackson at 2:50 PM
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