Summer Living in The City………
Having lived in Scotland for the majority of my life, all of this guaranteed sunny weather in Toronto still manages to take me by surprise every year – I am still not really used to embracing Summer Living. It’s the fact that it’s guaranteed, still astounds me I think. I’m used to rain and always wearing a sweater to keep me warm! Traditionally my clients & neighbours leave the city in droves every weekend in the summer, but, I am now seeing a significant shift in these habits. More and more are spending the bulk of their summers living in their city home and travelling to Europe and afar for family vacations instead of going “up to the cottage”.
This season Gillian Gillies Interiors has worked on several exterior city projects for clients who are really embracing Summer Living. We are really finding more people staying put in the city for the summer and they are therefore wanting to make the most of their gardens (aka back yards).
I totally favour making the most of your property 12 months of the year and making your garden into more of a room really helps extend the size of your home for a good 6 months.
Making this a success – in my humble opinion – is down to 4 keys things.
If you’re lucky you’ll love your neighbours, but that probably doesn’t mean that either you or they want to have to engage in conversation every time you step out your back door. Whether it be a gorgeous fence, trees or an outdoor structure – ensure you have privacy. This way you (and they) can relax outside in your pj’s on a Saturday morning whilst you linger over the newspapers.
2. OWN COMFORTABLE SEATING THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE PILLOWS
I’m a total toss pillow girl at heart until it comes to my garden and gardens of my clients.
Q – Who has the space to store big bulky seat & back cushions out of season and who wants to wait for them to dry after a rain shower so they can use their furniture?
A – No one!
Select, or have us select for you, comfortable seating that only requires toss pillows for accents if you choose to add them. Honestly, this decision alone can make or break your summer / marriage / happiness. Life is too short for high-maintenance exterior furnishings.
3. BE HONEST ABOUT HOW YOU WILL USE THE SPACE INSTEAD OF HOW YOU FEEL YOU SHOULD USE THE SPACE
I always ask my clients how they live in their homes – do they watch TV, do they read books, do they want to entertain, do they want overnight guests (most people when polled prefer a large walk-in closet over a guest bedroom) – it’s their home, they are adults, they are paying the bills therefore they get to call the shots, not their friends / family / society. The same question relates to your exterior space. Do you want an outdoor entertaining room – large table & chairs or do you want comfortable arm chairs with side tables for cocktails / books / snacks. You are the boss of you, unless you hire us and then we become the boss but in a nice, supportive, giving you totally what you want (but never knew it) kind of way!
4. DON’T GO TO YOUR LOCAL GARDEN NURSERY & PURCHASE WITHOUT FIRST DOING YOUR HOMEWORK
Trees and shrubs are an investment. Pick carefully and seek trained help prior to purchase. When we first moved into our home (13 years ago) there were a lot of dead things in the garden, I was new to Canada, had never had a garden before and so off I went to the local nursery full of enthusiasm and a healthy doze of naivety and purchased pretty looking replacements and those, (of course), died too. What I’ve learned is to walk your neighbourhood and see what is growing in your neighbours yards. If something looks perky and happy in their garden, it will probably look perky and happy in yours. My garden loves Hosta’s and Hydrangeas so that is what the majority of my space is filled with. It’s low maintenance, it gives me a white and green garden and my time working in the garden is really minimal.
Summer is short, enjoy it to the max by making the most use of your back yard.
Gillian Gillies Interiors Inc is a Toronto-based design firm. We specialise in Residential Interior Design. Our Turn Key Residential Design Projects range from the decoration of a single room to the renovation and design of an entire home.
Image Credits – all images can be found on our Pinterest board Garden Rooms.
Cover & Intro Image Australian Vogue featuring Victor + Rolf HQ.
Privacy Image Architectural Digest featuring Tina Brown’s home.
Comfortable Seating Image Terrain
Space Uses Image Sydney Baumgartner Landscape Design
Garden Nursery Image via Vogue, Kelly Wearstler’s Garden.