Lisa Aiken added an extension to her home but not with
conventional bricks and mortar. As a professional garden designer
and stylist and owner of Terra Firma Design in Toronto, Lisa set
to work to expand her interior space beyond the brick walls of her
Toronto home, built in 1840.
Coupled with the building skills of husband Andrew
Smith of Andrew Smith Contracting and her own passion for garden
design and decorating, the once barren patch of earth
in the backyard evolved into a natural extension of their home.
Fencing, pergolas and lattice screens define the space and create
airy, purposeful "rooms," which are decorated with garden-inspired
furnishings and accessories. Flowerbeds, hanging baskets and potted
plants add interest, colour, texture and definition along the red
brick floor that leads from one end of the garden to the other.
Each summer nature takes its course and, with a little styling help
from Lisa, the backyard sanctuary will once again provide months of outdoor
pleasure. "Our garden now offers all the amenities of our home,"
says Lisa. "We live, cook, eat and entertain in our garden
all summer long."
When buying and potting plants, Lisa suggests her
clients avoid the cookie-cutter look by mixing it up.
"Use fibreglass, iron, plain or glazed terra-cotta and
stone, and use columns, pedestals and footed iron
stands to create interest and height variations in
groupings and throughout the garden," says Lisa.
Here she created a striking vignette to naturalize a
dark corner featuring large broad-leaf potted
tropicals contrasted by bright white begonias and a
brilliant pink hibiscus.
Click here to view photos "behind
the scenes" for this story.
When decorating your outdoor living space, treat your garden
in the same way that you would approach your interior-by considering
light, colour, texture, pattern and comfort.
Creating an outdoor living space can be as simple as placing
a group of chairs facing each other in an open area where you
gather with friends to relax over a cool drink or stargaze on
a warm summer night.
Physically connect your home to your garden with French doors
or sliding glass doors for a clear view of your garden.
Choose a colour scheme of no more than three colours. Mirror
interior colours for a natural transition from house to garden.
Furnish with pieces that suit the purpose of the space. Use
weather- resistant fabrics and furnishings.
Build garden structures for protection from the elements.
Lighting in the garden is just as important as it is indoors
and adds function and esthetics to the space. Burn candles safely
and protect them from the wind by placing them inside glass-paned
lanterns and hurricanes. Install low-voltage lighting to accent
the garden and provide task lighting in dining and cooking areas.
No garden is complete without the soothing sounds of water.
Even the smallest water feature will enhance the setting of any
Mix it up and fill pots with annuals, tropicals and perennials.