The founder of Secret Location, Carey Melnichuk appeared on Global TV last month to give summer patio decor tips that you might find useful for the seasons to come.
Why should people dress up their patio for the summer?
Being in Vancouver, we're incredibly lucky for the phenomenal weather we get in the summer. Not too hot, not too cold - we truly are a 'Goldilocks' city. Because our summer is so short, we want to spend as much time as possible outside. Creating an 'outdoor living room' will allow you to use your space as much as possible.
What are the first (and/or most important) items to get for a small patio/balcony?
A seating arrangement. One that is comfortable, and allows for the most amount of bodies without utilizing the entire space. This could be a bench (perfect for storing items) as well as a chair, or an L-shaped couch.
Second, a table with the right height. The table should sit a few inches higher than your seat, which will allow you to use it to eat and entertain. The best is to find a table that is multi-purpose. Whether it be a covered sandbox (if you have children) or a trunk of some kind to allow for storage.
Third, greenery. Choose something that can stay outside all year round. It will keep your patio looking like a welcoming space and positive even in the winter.
Where are some of the best places to shop for patio furniture/decor?
First, I would decide on your budget and how long you'd like the items to last. It is easy to invest in good quality but simply designed basics (such as your couch), and focus your attention on the extras, which will help to dress up your space and help it to stand out.
Secret Location has a wide array of homeware items, including candles and cushions. For those with very tight space constraints, Örling & Wu has lovely seating arrangements. And for a great couch that will have your guests talking, visit Inform.
A favourite designer would be Jonathan Adler. He has the ability to have fun, and create beautiful and memorable prints.
What are some of your favourite patio finds?
I love to have an outdoor space that feels just as comfortable as one indoors. I like introducing more traditional 'home' items onto the patio, such as vases, books, and coasters. Personally, I'm partial to rich and deep hues. I find if you put greenery towards the back with a fresh off-white base, it can create a space that feels like a retreat. A current favourite is a large vase showcasing a copy of The Kiss by Klimt.
How should people go about choosing fabric and colour scheme?
When it comes to furniture that must remain on your patio, focus on durable or treated materials that will not fade or deteriorate in the elements. For 'extras', such as cushions, you don't need to focus as much on utilitarian fabrics. A great way to keep things looking fresh is to have cushions with a slipcover that can be easily removed and cleaned.
If your patio is connected to your home (like a condo balcony), or if you'd like to re-integrate items from your patio once the season is done, it is best to keep the neutral base the same. This will keep everything cohesive, and your patio will create the illusion that your home is larger than it is.
For myself, once I've selected my base (such as white or cream), I always choose one print or item to set the tone for what other colours I will introduce. If you don't feel confident utilizing many colours, focus on two and mix up the textures and prints.
What, if any, are the best patio plants to buy that will last through those rainy months?
Not only do you want a plant, which can withstand those rainy months, but also, the cold.
I'm partial to plants that not only bloom for weeks but also give off a lovely aroma. Mock Orange, a bush that will add a beautiful citrus scent to your patio, and can grow up to 20 feet tall. There are also numerous varieties of Potentilla. From the rose family, you will find a blooming and beautiful smelling plant that comes in an array of different colours and shapes. For more blooming and fragrant options, you can also look at Skimmea and Azealas.
However, be aware that with any blooming plant they require slightly more maintenance. If you're looking for something incredibly easy to care for, that will also create privacy, focus on shrubs. Cedars, Yucca, and Spikemoss are plants, which are quite hardy and will still create the oasis you're looking for. Succulents are great as well.