Toronto-Based Terrace Designer Rejuvenates Outdoor Space for City Dweller

Though Lisa Aiken offers interior and exterior design services, terraces are her forte and it shows in the special touches that brought this Toronto, Ontario condo garden to life. Aiken, the owner of Terra Firma Design, delivered an alfresco treasure to her client in the form of a glorious outdoor living space.

With its Yorkville location, known as one of the poshest neighborhoods in town, the urban residence sits above the upscale Hazelton Lanes shopping center. Because the interiors were being renovated at the same time, Aiken gave the outdoor space new flooring for a cohesive feel. “It’s a very small condo, so when you open the door you see the continuous flow of wood,” says the talented terrace designer. “It makes the entire condo look bigger.”

Aiken had a clever solution for the condo regulations that require access below the eighteen-by-twenty-four-foot terrace should the need arise. The exotic Ipe Brazilian hardwood floor features sections that run in different directions, so the large rectangles can be removed individually instead of ripping out the whole floor.

The outdoor living areas were also divided into sections, like the lounge area with an L-shaped wicker sofa covered in Sunbrella fabric and a pair of chairs the client had that were refurbished. In a separate dining area, a teak table and chairs joins a coordinating sideboard that opens for storage and can easily be converted into a buffet or bar. “Because she has a dining set, she can have people over for dinner or she can lie down and read in the lounge area or entertain a lot of people,” says Aiken.

Winterized containers that won’t crack or fade can remain outdoors year-round. Aiken was careful to make the container selection when choosing plants for her client, who is an avid gardener. “This gave her the opportunity to actually have trees grow,” she says. “There are a lot of perennials, accent plants, and herbs. Everything she could possibly put in a garden is on the terrace.” Shapely containers filled with Kimberly ferns, hydrangeas, cascading petunias, and ivy flank the sliding doors that lead to the terrace, while a birch tree in a substantial planter is surrounded by hostas and herbs.

This luxurious outdoor living space gives a Toronto condo owner a bonus room for much of the year. Divided into sections, her impressive terrace works just as well for quiet time as it does for dinner parties.

Neutral furnishings and sturdy containers join pops of colors found in plantings and pillows in this outdoor extension of an urban residence. Sophisticated wood flooring sets the tone for the charming terrace designed for an avid gardener. A storage sideboard pulls double-duty as a buffet while the greenery softens the surroundings.

Other classic elements include a soothing fountain right outside the client’s bedroom. “When she opens the door, she can hear the water running and see all the greenery for a spa-like atmosphere,” says Aiken, who explains the opportunity for outdoor living begins as early as April. “By May there are full flowers, and with some blankets she can still be sitting out until October if the weather is good.”

Distinctive details fill the modest space, like an iron wall planter and the angled dividers on either side of the terrace that were designed by Aiken and made of Ipe. “A lot of people just put up a piece of lattice, but she wanted full privacy,” she says. “Done at an angle, it becomes an interesting architectural feature.” The hand-forged iron railing also contributes to the timeless environment while following the guidelines that prevent it from being attached to the exterior wall of the building. Although the railing that protects the homeowner’s cats is latched and secured, it can easily be removed if needed.

Hurricane lanterns and candles further enhance the scenic surroundings in the evening. “She wanted it to be subdued with very soft light. There are a lot of candles and there is light from the bedroom and the living room,” says Aiken.

The end result is a bona fide bonus room. “The terrace is a huge extension of her indoor space. It increased the condo not only visually, but usage-wise with two different living rooms,” says Aiken. “Without it, she would have a very stylish, very small box, which is the norm when people purchase in this area. Extending her 830-square-foot condo not only makes use of the outdoor space, but [also] increases the real estate value.”

Article written by guest blogger Jeanine Matlow.