Designer Karl Lohnes took on the challenge of drastically making over his ground-floor terrace at his Toronto townhouse. His budget-savvy strategies serve as the ultimate guide for updating your own porch, patio or balcony.
It's a luxury to have a decent-size deck in downtown Toronto. Yet, the ground-floor terrace at designer Karl Lohnes' Victorian townhouse wasn't living up to its potential as a relaxing urban oasis. Time had taken its toll. The north-facing lower terrace was cast in permanent shadow under the property's old-growth pine trees and covered in moss. The rotting timbers of the terrace were torn out and replaced with professionally installed composite decking, the perfect solution to achieving an ideal space for summer entertaining.
Made in the shade
The damp, shady conditions of the ground-floor terrace are a recipe for rot, so a total gut job of the decades-old wooden patio was Lohnes' only option. Instead of replacing the torn-out decking with more wood, which would ultimately meet the same fate, Lohnes opted for Trex, a durable composite decking material. "It won't fade, warp or crack, and it's very easy to hose clean. It's the perfect solution," he says.
Though composite fences are normally installed in a row of vertical planks, Lohnes turned convention on its side. Horizontal planks not only give the terrace a slightly modern edge but also create the illusion of a longer deck.
Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you; the planks on the terrace floor are a slightly different shade of grey than those used on the fence. "That was done intentionally," says Lohnes. "The flooring has a slightly lighter blue hue to it. It reflects light from the sky and helps prevent the terrace from feeling like a pit."
Deck design and installation, mecontracting.ca.
Trex decking in Enhanced Clam and Select Winchester Grey, homedepot.ca.
To break up the terrace's bowling-alley layout, Lohnes installed a chic fretwork panel to one side of the stainless-steel barbecue. The barely there structure separates the space into distinct grilling and dining zones without compromising the open, airy feel.
Garden screen, yardistrystructures.com.
The dramatic outdoor wing chairs would have cost a mint if Lohnes had bought them at the beginning of summer. Instead, he held out for Restoration Hardware's end-of-season online sale, snapping up the pair at a rock-bottom price in September. "I had to keep them inside my house over the winter, but it was definitely worth it!"
Teak outdoor chairs and cast-iron bistro table, rh.com.
Considering shopping for outdoor furniture online like Lohnes? He recommends sticking to websites with brick-and-mortar stores where you're already familiar with the merch. "I knew Restoration Hardware's quality going into the purchase, so I didn't feel funny buying these chairs without sitting in them beforehand," says Lohnes."It's the same as when you buy clothes online; if you've already shopped in the store, you know how the sizing fits."
High-maintenance planter pots aren't practical for someone who travels as much as Lohnes. Taking his busy lifestyle into consideration, he filled the terrace exclusively with artificial greenery: everlasting orchids, boxwood hedges and cedar shrubs. "The only upkeep they need is a good brushing, which I do whenever I sweep the deck. They seem to attract leaves and pine needles," he says.
Faux boxwood and shrubs, silkplantscanada.com.
Planter pots, andrewricharddesigns.com.
Two-light Poseidon outdoor sconce, lowes.ca.
The refined style of the terrace is in keeping with the ground floor's interior decor—a continuity that blurs the boundaries between indoors and out. Even the silhouette of the living room's leather wing chair is repeated—in weather-resistant teak—on the patio. "I bought a Victorian townhouse, so I'm not going to move too far away from that esthetic," says Lohnes. "The cast-iron table, the sculptural chairs and the traditional light fixture are all over-the-top Victorian."
Devonshire outdoor sconce, lowes.ca.
Check out Karl Lohnes' chic patio makeover.
|This story was originally part of "A Tale of Two Terraces" in the May 2015 issue.
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