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Jennifer Myers

Guest Blogger

Jennifer Myers

A web designer by trade, Jennifer is the lead designer behind the new HGTV.ca, as well as a contributing blogger.

Real People Living in Condos: Urban Outdoor Space Envy

Posted by Jennifer Myers Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:56 PM EDT

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Summer is in full swing, and I have been soaking up every spare minute on our loft’s spacious terrace. Being lucky enough to have such an outdoor space to call my own feels like a blessing (now), as most condo-dwellers are stuck with pocket-sized balconies or nothing at all. But when we were faced with designing it, the 450 square feet of virgin ground-floor patio presented quite the challenge! 



Having resorted to daydreams of outdoor dinners while patiently suffering the construction outside, I could not wait to create a little inner-city oasis. Some of our neighbours hired landscape designers to tackle their patios; we could not. To figure it all out we assessed our patio dreams, and settled on DIYing a beautiful, usable extension of our indoor living space, greenery and all! With the benefit of a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, we had the opportunity to make this a real feature.



So here's what we did:


In its pure state, the terrace was a stark concrete box, with concrete tiles...



  • Because we obviously had no dirt of our own, container gardening, or “potscaping”, was our only option. Container gardens create a lot of visual impact and can be quite functional if you choose to grow your own veggies. The bulk of our edible garden comes from a 8ft x 2 ft cedar box, built by my partner and his father. The box has three thriving tomato plants, a selection of herbs and some cucumbers growing up a large trellis.
  • I also re-purposed an old plastic storage bin to plant a variety of lettuce, and picked up a couple of additional pots at IKEA. The builder started us off by having landscapers fill the communal planters dividing us from the public space with boxwood, hostas and trees, all of which will not mature for a number of years.


  • To up the level of privacy, we created a living barrier out of simple Presidents Choice planters planted with ornamental grasses (on the advice of sales person), that literally extend upwards our patio walls.  The additional two to three feet of height completely block courtyard wanders from a direct sight line to our much used dining area.
  • In an effort to save money, we purchased our BBQ from a local retailer in the middle of winter. Most people are not thinking about BBQs in February, but by purchasing last year's model (who cares with BBQs?) we saved a fortune.
  • The set of table and chairs, which seats six, was purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Co. (Alfred Sung Collection) in August of last year -- on clearance for over 50% off. The matching lounger and side table we managed to get 65% off at a different Bay location!
  • The Bamboo/Grass-mat carpets were scoured from a tiny shop in Toronto’s Chinatown and were also very inexpensive.

  • Total Cost including furnishings, the custom planter and Gas BBQ: about $3700. Not bad for an additional two “rooms”, if only just for the summer months!

    How'd we do?

Topics: Accessories, DIY, Patio, Plants, Patio Furniture, Design, Inspiration

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