PHOTOGRAPHY: LARRY ARNAL
STYLING: JILL SCHWARTZENTRUBER
It’s a case of family up front, party in the back for the owners of this newly built home in The Beaches area of Toronto. They happily ignore the unwritten rule about front yards being mainly decorative and backyards where the family enjoys outdoor living. “I guess we’re a little old-school,” says the stay-at-home-mother who lives in the five-bedroom home with her husband, an executive in the software industry, and three children under the age of 12. “We love nothing better than hanging out on the front porch to watch the kids play and to chat with the neighbours,” she says.
The house is ideally situated on a dead-end street. Sparse traffic means the children are allowed to ride their bikes with their friends. The street also lets onto a large play area, the perfect place to play basketball, their favourite game. And the front porch affords an excellent view of all the street action.
The couple takes it all in from the comfy upholstered cushions of a large sectional; it’s a little over seven-by-nine-feet long. It means there’s plenty of room for when folks drop by, as they tend to do in this friendly neighbourhood. A matching ottoman pulls up to create a conversation area. To minimize visual and actual clutter, a hammered aluminum drum coffee table provides hidden storage for extra pillows and throws. Whitewashed tree stumps do double duty as side tables and extra seating.
Set against the siding in a shade called Deep Ocean, the effect is very beach house. And yet that was not the effect the non-nautical Toronto native was after. “I’ve just always loved the colour blue,” she explains, “especially rich shades like navy. I wanted to carry the interior white, gray and blue colour scheme out into both the front and backyard spaces.”
From the rear of the home, the couple enjoy an enviable view of lush greenery surrounding an adjacent golf course. And they love to share it when they entertain – and in a big way. That fact is reflected in the way the back patio doors fold to completely open the kitchen to the outdoors. It lets onto a 17-by-30-foot terrace, constructed of ipe wood and granite.
It was all a blank canvas when the homeowners consulted Jill Schwartzentruber, owner of Casualife Outdoor Living. “Together we decided to also carry through the style of the interior, which is contemporary-transitional but also fun and upbeat,” says Schwartzentruber.
The home’s design, with the exception of the landscaping, had been driven by the homeowner over a period of 18 months, supported by interior designer Rania Ismail of Fohr Design Studios.
The main lounge area in the backyard was set up around the built-in fire pit, far from the barbecue station set off to one side of the house. To create a sense of connection between the front and back yards, the sofa and four deep-seated armchairs are of similar design with the same rich blue upholstery. Jaunty teak-topped side tables with aluminum frames add design interest.
A sleekly modern teak table dominates the dining area. “Often teak tables are rustic, but this has very slender, sophisticated lines,” says Schwartzentruber. “The homeowners like things that are slightly unexpected.” Light-weight grey resin chairs complement without detracting. Overhead looms a 10-by-13-foot tilting umbrella, cantilevered off a stand set to the side. The homeowner describes it as not only practical but “grand…with a presence.”
A walkway off the patio leads to a secondary lounge area close to the surrounding green space. A sofa and matching club chair invite more intimate conversations. Dark grey upholstered cushions sit on a contemporary black aluminum frame with decorative slats. Their slim profile gives a light, airy feel and creates the illusion of space.
A rainy spring delayed the inauguration of the 2017 patio party season. But the couple intend to make up for it in a big way. “We love having people over and they like hanging out with us,” the homeowner says. “Now we have a space to show off and room for quite a crowd.” •
Casualife Outdoor Living
Markham ~ 905-475-8353
Mississauga ~ 905-990-5433