Design your outside world… and enjoy


By Herb Lagois

As beautiful as the outdoors is in Ontario, outdoor living can be a challenge due to weather and insects. When designing a home, a cottage, an addition or a renovation, careful thought should be given to indoor/ outdoor integration and outdoor living.


Many of us are using the home as a cottage – why not make the outdoor living inviting and enjoyable?


There are many considerations for indoor/outdoor integration and outdoor living. What will the sun exposure be? What are the views? What are the prevailing winds? Is a screened room or a gazebo required? Is there traffic noise or mechanical equipment noise? Pools, hot tubs, BBQ areas, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, outdoor activities –all are important considerations.


If the exposure is west, the afternoon sun can become unbearable. Solutions such as lanais, covered porches, trellises, fixed or retractable awnings could be considered. Optimizing views or hiding unsightly views are critical to enjoying the outdoors. Although wind can be comforting on hot summer days, wind can also be very annoying and disruptive. Enjoying the outdoors is great until we are driven indoors by black flies and mosquitoes:

Screened rooms or gazebos offer protection from insects, rain, wind, even sun. Traffic noise can be dealt with by using landscape burms, landscape materials, or structural walls to deaden unwanted sounds. Air conditioners and pool pumps can be located away from outdoor living areas.

Pools and hot tubs are great outdoor enhancements. For pools, most municipalities require fencing, minimum setbacks from property lines or septic systems. A pool fence should not obstruct views, yet pools should be located such that parents can keep a watchful eye from within the home. Enjoying an evening around an outdoor fireplace is fun and relaxing; will the fireplace be gas or wood burning? Wood burning fireplaces have requirements for chimneys; gas fireplaces have the convenience of “flipping a switch”.

Awnings create a very cozy feel, offer shelter from rain and sun, yet awnings may shade the interior of an existing home. Awnings are susceptible to wind damage, yet technology offers automatic retraction when winds become too strong. Lanais, verandahs, covered porches have the same affect as awnings but are permanent structures. Often theses structures can be screened.

Screened rooms can extend the outdoor living to three seasons. Often screened porches have some form of glazing (windows). Gazebos (screened rooms detached from the main house/cottage) can be located to take advantage of vistas not possible form the main house/cottage and should be located not to obstruct views.

Patios and decks come in all shapes and sizes: interlock, stamped concrete, stone, wood, composite are just a few materials that can be used either by themselves or in combination with each other. When considering patios or decks, railings should be placed not to obstruct views and should integrate the entire yard.

The possibilities are endless… always take a holistic design approach for indoor/outdoor integration. Design the opportunity to enjoy our wonderful outdoors.


Enjoy the experience!