Home & Garden

Expert tips for designing outdoor spaces

Photo courtesy of Gluckstein Home Image by: Photo courtesy of Gluckstein Home Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Expert tips for designing outdoor spaces

Designer Brian Gluckstein is synonymous with sophisticated interiors. But what does the doyen of understated luxury make of the great outdoors?

Brett Walther: What does summer mean to you as a Canadian?
 
Brian Gluckstein: "Canadians don't take summer for granted as people in other countries might. It's our chance to get a little more physically active. I love to go for walks and explore different neighbourhoods."
 
BW: Are you much of a gardener?
 
BG: "I used to do all of my own gardening, actually, and I found it very therapeutic—I'd really get into it. I remember planting flowers early one Saturday morning in my baseball cap, face covered in dirt, on my hands and knees, with skids of flowers around me. This client pulled in and said to one of our office staff, 
"I don't know how Brian gets gardeners to work on the weekends." These days, my garden is a bit big for me to manage on my own—I still go in and trim now and then—but if I ever downsize, I would love to take it up again."
 
BW: What's your approach to landscaping?
 
BG: "I'm a big tree hugger, and I think every Canadian should plant a tree in both their front and backyards. There's nothing prettier than sunlight filtered through leaves, and the shade trees provide is good for your house because you don't have to run the air conditioning at the same level. In general, I tend to minimize hard surfaces and maximize plantings. I would never use a patio umbrella where I could plant a tree instead."
 
BW: What inspires your outdoor decor? 
 
BG: "Cottage country here is really incredible. We visit friends' cottages because we don't have our own, and that whole idea of relaxed entertaining inspires me. Everyone's just wearing shorts and T-shirts and bathing suits. It's not about a formal dinner party but an informal gathering in a garden or country setting, which is nice." 
 
BW: What's the biggest mistake people make when designing outdoor spaces? 
 
BG: "The same mistake they make inside: not having a plan from the start. A lot of people go out and buy patio furniture and just hope it fits. It really pays to measure the space and do a floor plan the same way you would if you were furnishing the inside of your house. You also want to have a similar sensibility outside and inside, so the outside feels like a true extension of your living space." 
 
BW: Do you approach alfresco entertaining any differently than an indoor party?
 
BG: "I'm much bolder with colour when it comes to outdoor tableware and linens. I also pay a lot of attention to lighting. 
I encourage people not to over-light their exteriors; firstly, because it attracts mosquitoes and bugs, and secondly, because there's often enough ambient light coming from inside the house through the windows. Instead of lighting the house, light the garden area. Stringing some lights through the trees and scattering lots of candles around can make for a very pretty evening." 

For more decor inspiration, check out our interview with the queen of DIY, Julie Carlson.
                                               
This story was originally titled "Force of Nature" in the June 2014 issue.
            
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Expert tips for designing outdoor spaces

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