February 22, 2024

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Hot seats | National Post

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During the pandemic, having a plot of outdoor space at home was a godsend — a place to enjoy a chardonnay and a snack unmasked. And the drive to create intentional lounge-worthy spaces outdoors continues.

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“I don’t know if there’s a correlation with COVID, but people are putting more focus on their outdoor spaces,” says Parris McKenna, the designer of Parris McKenna Interior Design Studio. “I’ve found a shift in the importance of outdoor furniture. People are setting up an actual zone to entertain.”

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In fact, McKenna, who works primarily in Muskoka and Toronto, has fielded an uptick of requests for terrace features that extend the season.

“In a lot of my renovations, people are installing built-in heaters in the soffits in the porches or back decks, so you could sit out in early spring or fall,” McKenna says. “Or we’re putting in standing gas lanterns you would typically find in bars or restaurants.”

Light-coloured cushions and wood tones

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In terms of the palette, “the sense of charm and durability of wood is popular,” McKenna says. “I’m seeing a lot of teak.”

The rustic brown is paired with neutral cushions such as white, sand or oatmeal-toned. “That California outdoor style of wood and light-toned cushions is trending,” says McKenna who often turns to CB2, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn for her designs. “I like the bulkiness of their furniture.” The pieces have a strong presence on a patio.

For tight quarters, McKenna suggests forgoing a formal dining table. “I always lean towards a lounge. If you want to eat outside, you can make it work with a lounge but not vice-versa.” After all, there is an inherent casualness to being outside. “If you’re limited on space, you can eat on your lap.”

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Relay sofa
This modular Relay sofa by Burrow is easy to customize for various sizes of outdoor spaces. Photo by Burrow photograph

Richard  Bockner, the owner and principal at ARD Outdoor and partner of the Vondom flagship shop in Canada, has seen a pull to the lighter side, too.

From 2000 to 2020, we were seeing a lot of grey, charcoal and black,” Bockner says. “Everything in design and outdoor furniture was trending in darker colours from fabrics to frames,” he says. “Post-pandemic we’re seeing a movement towards lighter colours such as beige, light grey and white.”

His point is well-illustrated by the shop’s Gatsby line. Designed by Spanish architect Ramón Esteve, luxurious white cushions sit atop a resin base, which has an intricate fluting detail — a trend indoors, too, in glass and wood on everything from kitchen islands to cabinetry doors. Gatsby also comes with coordinating planters and lamps.

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Modular magic and a flexible design for small spaces

Flexibility is also trending on the terrace. Burrow, makers of crisp, compact modular sofas and chairs — can be reconfigured on a whim.

“Modular seating is great for outdoors because it allows you to rearrange your outdoor setting as often as you’d like,” says Stephen Kuhl, co-founder and CEO of Burrow, referring to the brand’s Relay collection, which sports a slick powder-coated steel frame. “And modular pieces are easier to store indoors in the winter.”

All-in-one gazebo
Home Depot’s all-in-one gazebo includes privacy shades, loveseats and tables. Photo by Home Depot photograph

Kuhl notes, “while neutral tones like grey are always popular for outdoor collections, we’ve seen off-white really pick up in recent years.”

To keep the pieces pristine if it rains or a squirrel stops by to couch surf, Burrow’s fabrics are weather-resistant. “The use of ultra-durable materials makes white fabrics in an outdoor collection possible,” Kuhl says. “Our Salt colourway has performed very well.”

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Home Depot also makes a no-fuss design to kick off patio life in smaller spaces. “The Tuscan Hills Gazebo is an all-in-one solution for backyard relaxing or entertaining,” says Natalia David, trend and design manager for Home Depot Canada.

The set includes a corner gazebo with two adjustable privacy shades, a right-arm loveseat, a left-arm love seat, a side table, a coffee table and a C-table to support a laptop for work-from-home situations.

Terrazzo and concrete going strong

 Terrazzo, the speckled composite material that’s been jazzing up floors, accessories and backsplashes in the past few years, is also popular on the patio. The tables on Home Depot’s Tuscan Hills Gazebo feature a terrazzo-inspired finish.

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Parris McKenna, meanwhile, says, “A lot of the accent furniture like coffee tables or side tables are big chunky terrazzo tables or concrete-style tables. There’s a focus on natural-looking materials.”

Gatsby sofa
Vondom’s Gatsby sofa is sophisticated in on-trend white. Photo by Vondom photograph

Katelyn Rempel, who runs an eponymous design firm in Toronto, and works in Los Angeles for HGTV’s Property Brothers, also favours terrazzo on the terrace.

“Indoor trends usually migrate outdoors,” she says. “Travertine, concrete and terrazzo are perfect outside,” says Rempel. “As is natural stone.” Think organic, misshapen tables that have a handmade quality.

Metals and colour

Rempel’s personal favourites, though, are colourful metals like pieces from the HAY collection she recently used on a patio project. “I love that you can see through the Palissade chair to provide an airy feeling,” she says of the slatted design. There’s also a lounge-chair version, a bench and a table. “And I love the deep oxblood red or green.” Ikea’s red or grey “Brusen” bench is another metal option.

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Palissade chair
Hay’s Palissade chair in powder-coated steel provides an airy shot of colour. Photo by Hay photograph

Elana Safronsky, principal of Emme Design, also gives props to HAY’s Palissade line.

“This colourful collection perfectly straddles old and new, with a timeless and minimal slatted design.” If you’ve been in Paris, you might have noticed the iconic green steel chairs in their parks; they’re cult classics, Safronsky says.

“Imitations can be found in plastic, but these beauties are forged in powder-coated steel, making them extremely durable as well as a no-brainer style choice for traditional, transitional and modern gardens and exteriors. How could one argue when the original design was commissioned by the Paris parks department?”

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Let there be light | National Post

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Indoor garden rooms first started trending among Victorians, who grew giant palms and other exotics in them. They used these spaces for drinking tea and improving their health in the sunshine and fresh air they offered. But for modern decorators, a room that’s mostly windows can present challenges. Where do you put the sofa?

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As Toronto-area designer Michele Berwick observes, “Sunrooms are unique in the sense that you either have very (few) walls or no walls at all to place furniture on, so you need to approach them in a different way.”

Her first trick for making these rooms work is to opt for “non-traditional furniture arrangements.” A pair of chaises longues facing the windows can work, she suggests, with a little side table between them. Or perhaps a curved sofa floating in the middle of the room, for taking in the view all around you.

 In a room full of windowns, Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski, principal designer and founder of Tiffany Leigh Design, aims to maximize both the view and the intended function of the room. “We like to use this type of space for reading, sipping coffee, doing a puzzle, or getting work done at a laptop, so a long, low bench under the windows paired with a small table is a perfect solution.”

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Skylight and windows
A skylight and wraparound windows bring light into a bedroom. Photo by Four Seasons Sunrooms photograph

For a sunroom intended for lounging, “comfy, not fussy, furniture is the way to go,” says Berwick, who uses “lots of pillows, throw blankets and baskets with more pillows and throw blankets. Spread out magazines and books on the coffee table, and if possible, frame out the windows with sheer white drapery, not to block the view but to enhance it.”

All that light, however, can take a toll on furnishings. Berwick warns that even in rooms with double- or triple-glazed windows and special UV coatings, the sun damage ordinary fabrics over time, causing fading, colour changes and breakdown.

 “I use high-performance outdoor fabrics in sunrooms,” Berwick says. “They are made to be outside, taking the hit from the sun at all times.” They’re also more stylish than they used to be. “Gone are the days of stiff, plastic-like fabrics. You can’t even really tell they were made for the outdoors.”

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For homes that don’t have a sunroom, modular or prefab sunrooms or solariums are a popular alternative to custom architectural additions.

Sunlight dining area
Skylights and bi-fold doors create a sunroom-dining area in this house. Photo by Four Seasons Sunrooms photograph

Earlier models were less complicated to install than a traditional addition but had a number of drawbacks, among them a basic appearance and a tendency to leak. But according to Matt Jacewicz, president of Four Seasons Sunrooms’ GTA location, modern-day versions carry good warranties against defects, leakage and even glass breakage, and are customized to buyers’ specifications.

Sunroom extension
A sunroom extension can make the backyard feel usable in four seasons. Photo by Four Seasons Sunrooms photographs

Along with regular sunrooms and solariums, his company installs porch enclosures, three-season rooms with single-paned glass, bump-outs, skylights and atriums. “We even created a glass bathtub enclosure once. It was in the country, so there were no worries about privacy, and the view was amazing,” Jacewicz says.

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 Its impossible to say whether a modular sunroom compares favourably in cost to a bespoke addition, since there are so many variables. But where the modular product offers real advantages, Jacewicz says, is in construction efficiencies. The components are pre-manufactured offsite and trucked to clients’ homes; he likens putting one together to building a giant Tinker-Toy set.

 Whether it’s a prefab job, or classic sunroom or conservatory in a century home, there’s something about a sunroom that makes those who occupy it relax. “Sunrooms are just such a special spot in the home,” says Berick. “They’re unlike any other room.”

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Lagging productivity in building is driving up developing prices | Post

Productivity trends in development subsectors

In just construction, labour efficiency developments fluctuate noticeably between subsectors. Unfortunately, subsector facts are not available for several EU countries. To acquire some insight here, we use the scenario of the Netherlands where by the information to calculate the efficiency trend of the various subsectors are accessible.

Superior labour productiveness growth in the household and non-residential sector
The Dutch residential and non-residential sector has professional substantially better labour efficiency advancement in excess of the past 25 yrs than other Dutch development subsectors. Dutch builders this kind of as Dijkstra Draisma, Daiwa Household Modular Europe, Heijmans, Plegt-Vos and Van Wijnen are aiming to industrialise the building course of action. This is paying out off labour productiveness grew a lot faster in this Dutch subsector, by additional than 40%, from 1995 to 2021. New household and professional creating assignments are also very well-suited to industrialisation because this development process can be standardised relatively perfectly.

Normal productiveness advancement in specialised construction
Productivity growth in Dutch specialised design is virtually the similar as that in total design. Many of these building processes are also hard to industrialise. Customisation is typically required, primarily for renovation and servicing. On the other hand, digitalising can streamline enterprise processes.

Productiveness in the infrastructure sector has fallen
Labour efficiency in the Dutch infrastructure sector has fallen in current decades. Initial, this is mainly because the sector contracted from 1995 to 2021. In 2021, 10% a lot less was generated in this subsector than in 1995. As we described higher than, contraction is generally not a fertile breeding ground for efficiency advancement. Second, infrastructure jobs are also often more tricky to industrialise in any case because they contain a great deal of customisation, although, as in specialised building, digitalising can surely assist.

Productivity gains among suppliers are also minimal
It is frequently mentioned that it is mostly suppliers that provide out solution and process innovation, and therefore performance in construction. This would then reward the full development chain. However, if we glance at the labour productiveness of some essential Dutch supply sectors, it is also somewhat minimal.