Inspiring Outdoor Space Ideas for Canadian Homes

Articles & Interest

As Canadians, we’re used to harsh winters, so making the most of these precious summer days is very important to most of us! With an influx of people working from home and using vacation days for staycations, investing in your outdoor space is more enticing than ever.

The 2022 renovation season is well underway, but it’s not too early to start thinking about renovating next summer. While you use your current outdoor space this summer, think about what your needs and wants are and document so you don’t forget what it’s like using your space right now. Kickstart your planning by reading the following ideas and considerations to make when imagining your dream outdoor living space. All of the awesome photographs feature projects submitted by RenoMark renovators into the 2022 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence.

Bring the outside in and the inside out

Your outdoor space is an extension of your home, not just an addition. You can increase the cohesiveness of your indoor space with the outdoors by beginning with the type of doors you choose. Options are endless: consider an accordion-style glass door, a garage-like door that rolls upwards, or floor-to-ceiling sliding panels. If the type of door allows it, you may want to add screens to extend your enjoyment during the buggier months.

In the renovation below, BRIKS Design-Build Group opted for a wide back door that collapses in an accordion style. This is a great solution for smaller spaces, as the large door makes both the living room and backyard feel significantly larger. It’s easy to imagine hosting a cocktail party or family reunion in the space below.

Image of a backyard with dinner table and lounge chairs, with large door that shows beautiful interior of home.
BRIKS Design-Build Group in Toronto, ON – Winner of the Best Exterior Renovation Category for the 2022 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence

Everything tastes better outside

There’s something about eating outside that makes a meal feel extra special. Whether it’s a plate of leftovers from your work-from-home lunch break, an evening barbeque, or ordering from your favourite take-out spot, everything seems gourmet when eaten outdoors.

When renovating your outdoor dining space, there are a few things to consider. If possible, being close to the door is best for carrying plates of food outside. Ideally, your dining space will be under a shelter or have a large umbrella for days when the sun is strong or there is a drizzle of rain. Outdoor furniture can make a big difference in the look and feel of the space, and should be made with durable, waterproof material that will last longer. As the end of summer approaches, keep your eyes on your local buy and sell groups and websites for end-of-season deals on gently used furniture. If you have the budget, adding features like an outdoor chandelier or a custom pizza oven can really bring your dining space to the next level.

In the outdoor renovation below by Vicky’s Homes, the back deck was designed with two different spaces in mind: one area for lounging and relaxing, and another space closer to the kitchen for dining. With the addition of a chandelier, it’s perfect for simple family dinners.

Back deck under overhanging ceiling with two seating areas.
Finalist in the 2022 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence, “Vilhelm” by RenoMark member Vicky’s Homes in Edmonton, AB 

Outdoor spaces don’t have to just be for summer

The only thing predictable about Canadian weather is that it is constantly changing. That doesn’t mean you have to stay inside or not use your outdoor space during the colder months or less than favourable weather. If you’re planning an outdoor renovation, talk to your renovator about ways you can enclose the space or add a roof, depending on your needs.
The project below by Ultimate Homes & Renovations features a panoramic view of the park and stunning features that warm up the space. This renovation incorporated a gas fireplace, two flush mount infrared heaters and motorized screens so the space can be closed off and used year-round. The screens also keep the bugs out.

Fireplace and outdoor kitchen on patio. Beautiful scenery from back patio different angle.
Finalist in the 2022 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence, “Panoramic Park View Patio” by RenoMark member Ultimate Homes & Renovations in Calgary, AB

Turn up the heat

Another great way to make outdoor spaces usable year-round is by finding ways to warm up the space. Adding warmth can mean going all-out with the installation of a hot tub or sauna. A fireplace is great for roasting marshmallows during the summer or warming up your mittens after a wintery walk. Installing infrared heaters can be a simple way to keep the space cozy during chillier summer nights or the middle of winter.

In the backyard renovation below, Novak Contracting pulled out all the stops for creating a warm and inviting outdoor space. The hot tub and fireplace are warm elements the homeowners can use all year round.

Glamourous outdoor backyard design featuring space with canopy, hot tub and fireplace.
Finalist in the 2022 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence, “Modern Makeover” by RenoMark member Novak Contracting & Construction Ltd. in Surrey, BC

Light up the space

An excellent, and simple, way to transform your outdoor living space is by thoughtfully selecting lighting. Start by examining any safety and security needs for illuminating the whole backyard quickly or outlining a safe space to walk along the path. After that, consider lighting to achieve your dream ambiance for entertaining or relaxing. String lights and lanterns are classic selections for changing the atmosphere. Be sure to select lighting that is safe for outdoor use. When the sun begins to set sooner, you’ll want to have reliable lighting like solar-powered fixtures and LED setups with a variety of path markers and spotlights. Many lights can even be on a self-timer, so your space will automatically glow in the evening.

Low-maintenance transformations

If you’re not an avid gardener or prefer to relax on Sundays instead of mowing your lawn, consider ways to design your outdoor spaces that are easy to maintain and leave you more time to kick back and enjoy being outdoors. Select durable materials for your furniture and finishings. Consider stone, cement, or concrete for ground materials. Choose plants that are low maintenance and thrive in your local environment. Investing in trees will also help with keeping your space cool during the hotter months.

Stylish back exterior of home with modern sleek seating and fireplace.
Finalist in the 2022 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence, “Kingsway Residence” by RenoMark member Men at Work Design Build Ltd. in Toronto, ON

Examine your priorities

It’s important to think about your needs and wants when beginning a new renovation project. When you’re revamping a space inside or outside your home, about what will serve you now and how you’ll use the space in the years to come.

Take some time to imagine how you’d like to use your outdoor space, and make sure to include the thoughts of anyone else living with you. Is it a space for gathering family and community? A place for hobbies and play? A place to relax and escape, like the porch below with cozy chairs? Are you going to exercise on the lawn, toss the ball for your pup, or play with your toddlers?

Don’t forget about your front porch

Sitting on a porch on a summer evening, watching the world go by, may seem like something only elderly folks do, but relaxing and occasionally waving at your neighbours while sitting on your front porch is objectively enjoyable at ANY age!

This beautiful exterior home renovation by Ultimate Homes & Renovations features a stunning front porch that would be perfect place for spending summer evenings.

Evening photo of the exterior of home with decorative warm lighting.
“Glowing Countryside Transformation” by RenoMark member Ultimate Homes & Renovations in Calgary, AB

Your dreams don’t have to be accomplished in one summer

Installing an outdoor kitchen, personal sauna, family-sized hot tub or sliding floor-to-ceiling glass doors is a tall order for many Canadian families. When planning your dream outdoor space, remember that it does not all have to happen in one summer. Imagine your dream outdoor space, then work backwards to see what is doable in what time frame and what is highest on your priority list. Perhaps an outdoor dining space is the most important thing for your family right now, but you can still plan for the corner of your backyard that will boast a hot tub when the kids head off to university!

Ready to renovate?If you’re ready to start talking to a professional about renovating your outdoor space, you can find a trusted contractor in your area through RenoMark’sprofessional directory.