If you didn’t love Paul Lafrance already, this interview is sure to secure a special place in your heart for this rock-star deck expert, or as he suggested we call him, intergalactic emperor of decking. On set Paul is a big kid with grand visions for outdoor oases. You may not know that off-set he is a loving father of four girls, who always puts his family first and ensures a healthy work-life balance is met. We had the opportunity to chat with Paul about everything from family, music, and even a house that sold for $400K over asking.
Elizabeth Rotstein: What makes your deck so awesome?
Paul Lafrance: I design the backyard space so it is visually grabbing your attention from the busyness of the house. My whole philosophy is to draw you into the outdoors away from the distractions of life. My backyard is not that big, about 450-square-feet but it is designed in such a way that the most commonly used area is framed from the window inside our home.
“There is something about the outdoors that is inherently peaceful.”
The space that is visually seen is a 10×10 area with fire features on both sides, a retractable awning over top, a bridge that leads to it, two waters features and a little piranha filled pond that leads to it. My wife and I were sitting talking about it, and we found that three-quarters of our most important in-depth conversations took place in that 10×10 space, that’s why I’m so passionate about decks and outdoor spaces. There is something about the outdoors that is inherently peaceful, which is why we are so drawn to it.
ER: With four daughters, describe a typical morning in your house.
PL: Ever heard of the word anarchy? That’s my house. Let’s just say that when the summer hits we tend to drink a lot of wine. I love the challenge of it, I love my girls.
Paul Lafrance and his four daughters, from a photo previously seen in our Hosts Talk Father’s Day gallery.
ER: How strict will you be when your girls start dating?
PL: I have a very different philosophy on that, I take my girls out every week for individual time with daddy. So every month, every daughter will have a date with dad. The goal there is to treat them like I would want that first schmuck who comes along to treat them.
“I want my daughters to grow up knowing they can do anything.”
With the boy who picks them up, I’ll have some fun with them, but I’m not going to do the whole typical shotgun on the table thing. My goal is, I want my girls to know that I trust them and that I’ll give them strong advice, but nothing to rebel against. I want my girls to be able to talk to me about anything. Growing up with sisters was very helpful.
ER: Do you share your handyman skills with your daughters?
Absolutely, I am a humungous advocate of women doing what boys do. I want my daughters to grow up knowing they can do anything. Kate Campbell is a huge role model on my show because she was given five academic scholarships and was going to follow this typical path, but she knew it wasn’t for her. She wanted to work with her hands, she wanted to build things. She’s a fantastic role model, my girls adore her.
Kate Campbell on set on Decked Out.
ER: You’ve built over 2,000 decks, and designed over 10,000. Is there one deck that has a special place in your heart?
PL: Yes, my favourite story is from an episode of Decked Out, called The Miami Deck. We had this couple that were living in a tight packed urban city environment, their backyard had no privacy and backed on to a monstrous warehouse, and was built over a parking garage. It was awful. I asked them where they like to vacation, and they said South Miami beach. So I built a South Miami nightclub in their backyard. If you think like Peter pan, magical things could happen. They absolutely loved it. After the show, they had to sell the house, and it sold for $400K over their asking price.
Watch the full episode of Decked Out now: The Miami Deck, Season 02, Episode 07
ER: You are the lead singer in Found in the Fury; what is your go-to karaoke song to show off your vocal chops?
PL: I have a few. I’m a big fan of Tragically Hip and Dave Matthews Band. I would say The Space Between. It’s a great song and ties in to what I do, the backyard space and the house space. I am known to surprise people and pull off a song by Prince because I have a very low voice.
ER: We love your spiky hair style! How can viewers at home achieve your rock-star look?
PL: I can’t give away where I can my hair product from because it’s top secret. It’s like Area 51 top secret.
ER: What’s the best vacation that you have ever been on?
PL: I just came back from Israel. I spent two weeks there and it was life changing.
ER: What’s your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?
PL: Building block games with my girls, or Game of Things.
ER: If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
PL: Guitar, satellite phone and a boat. Or a shark fishing rod. My dad caught a hammerhead shark when he was a teen, and I’ve always been jealous.
ER: What’s your favourite sport growing up?
PL: Baseball. The guys on the show, we have our own league. Often when we are filming the reveal, I’m rushing out of there to go play ball. I play short stop and I pitch. I was a huge baseball fan growing up, and still am. Last year the Blue Jays hurt my feelings, deeply.
Paul and his daughter, Promise, 13, at the Blue Jays game.
ER: What was your first car?
PL: My first car was a Renault Alliance. I bought it at auction for $600. The body looked like a chess board because it was so patched up. I didn’t realize that you had to change the fluids in your car, so let’s just say the car didn’t last very long.