Design by Kim Bartley

Q: How can I create an inviting outdoor space for my family without it costing me a fortune?

Furniture that works double duty is always a smart purchase, never more so than when you’re dealing with a small condo balcony or a tiny front porch. Not every space is large enough to accommodate extra pieces of furniture so make sure that the ones you chose also double as storage containers. Stackable stools are great for extra seating and can act as an impromptu side table or plant stand. Including a deck box as a coffee table provides a convenient hideaway for extra pillows, throws or even games when you want the space to look tidy. A big galvanized bucket works just as well to hold drinks or a selection of children’s outdoor toys. An old bar cart can be useful for keeping frequently used items close at hand. Bringing items inside during inclement weather and then dragging them back out again can be frustrating and a waste of time.

If you want to create your own spa-like retreat at home, try adding in natural elements for a relaxing and spiritual vibe. Raw wood details, plants and candles all contribute to a calming atmosphere. Go one step further and add water in the form of a soothing, trickling fountain or even a small pond. There are many affordable wall or stand-alone fountains that have an appealing natural stone design. A small model can be integrated into your tablescape providing a surefire conversation starter. If you are looking for something less fancy, find a birdbath that fits your design style and you will discover that birds, butterflies and hummingbirds might enjoy your tranquil sanctuary just as much as you do.

While a rug is obviously an important decision for your main living room, the addition of a new floor covering for your deck or patio can really pull together your outdoor space. Opt for a rug with a pretty pattern that is also resistant to water and mould because it will be exposed to the elements. You can also place rugs strategically to shift the flow of foot traffic or to create nooks for guests to hang out in during social events. There are so many options available in an exciting array of colors, patterns and textures, that there is sure to be an affordable one to suit your unique style. If you feel like your backyard space or porch feels like a mishmash of items you have purchased over many years, there is nothing like a rug to liven things up and create a cohesive look. Whether under an outdoor dining table or sectional sofas and benches, an outdoor rug will establish a welcoming and finished look.

Create a magical escape for yourself with greenery. Nothing screams Tuscany like some oversized plants in large crumbling terra cotta planters. Or evoke a modern La La Land house on the hills with modern planters in black granite filled with pale green grasses. If English country is your vibe, add a trellis with climbing wisteria or evergreen ivy to the side of your deck. Even filling up a wire plant stand with small, inexpensive potted plants and flowers from the grocery store brings a vintage vibe that will add instant charm to the great outdoors. Small herb gardens are both pretty and practical, ensuring that you always have fresh flavors for your cooking endeavors. If space is tight, think vertically and hang a series of luscious succulents from hooks in a row to create a focal point.

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Kim Bartley, Principal of Kim Bartley Design, brings 25 years of business ownership and management to the table. Kim’s keen eye for design lends her rooms an edgy sophistication while remaining current and functional. Her philosophy is that your home should make you happy and reflect your lifestyle and changing needs. Focusing on unparalleled client care, Kim aims to make the design experience positive and enjoyable at each phase of the project. She works collaboratively with her clients to develop spaces that are clean and modern but still warm and approachable. Kim believes that everyone deserves to live in a beautifully designed space and focuses on truly “getting” her clients.

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