After a successful first season, Canadian designer and contractor extraordinaire, Paul LaFrance, returns for a new season of Decked Out where he transforms Canadian backyards into one-of-a kind luxurious outdoor spaces. Paul tells us to look out this season for even more elaborate and exciting designs and many laughs along the way. To celebrate the new season, I asked Paul to share a few tips and tricks to help you transform your own backyard into an outdoor oasis.
Q: You are obviously very passionate about outdoor living, what makes the deck such a special area for you?
A: It really is part of a much deeper philosophy for me – I’m a firm believer that people, especially here in western culture, have never been more stressed out and are in great need of an accessible space to be able to relax and enjoy nature. In the past they may have escaped to a cottage in order to do this, but financial and time constraints have put this out of reach for many these days. Decks and backyards are the perfect way to be able to provide this.
Q: Before planning to take on a deck renovation, what are some important things to consider before you even start with plans?
A: I always start with a good self-assessment on how much sun you enjoy. A lot of people forget about this basic and crucial element and this really will be a determining factor in planning your space. Whether you’re a sun worshipper who enjoys tanning, or someone who’d prefer to stay in the shade, figuring out what balance of sun and shade works best for you will really help to maximize your enjoyment of this area in the long term. Secondly, I tell people to take a look at the inside of your home, then translate these elements into the outdoor space as well. This will give a good flow between indoors and out and ensure that you create a space that is comfortable and inviting to you.
Q: For anyone confused about where to splurge/ save on a deck, where is a good place to invest money in a deck?
A: If your backyard is supposed to be a space of rest, you don’t want to be outside and looking down at the floor or worrying about maintenance. I highly recommend investing in a product like Trex, a durable, eco-friendly wood alternative that will add a lot of value to the home and require very little maintenance. This will also pay off if the time comes to sell your property: like swimming pools, many potential buyers can be turned off by a wood deck when they think of the upkeep involved, a product like Trex will eliminate this extra work and can be a great selling feature.
Q: Do you have any tips on how to transform an outdoor space with a very limited budget?
A: There are so many cool products out there these days, but one of my favourites would definitely be LED lighting. It is inexpensive, easy to run and can completely transform the whole atmosphere of an outdoor space. With just this small change, suddenly you have ambience and a welcoming, restful atmosphere you’ll want to go out and enjoy in the evenings.
Q: Any suggestions for enjoying outdoor living for city dwellers or those with very limited outdoor space?
A: Don’t limit yourself! For all the big and extravagant deck projects I’ve taken on, the tiny ones have been the most rewarding. They do require a little extra work with planning, but you can definitely achieve that same relaxing atmosphere even in a small space. In this upcoming season, look out for an episode where we did just this for a client and brought the luxurious lounge atmosphere of South Miami Beach (their favourite vacation spot) right to their small outdoor space in the city.
For information on Paul’s contract and design services, visit Cuttingedgedesign for both local and long distance options.