Five Fixes to Transform Any Yard into a Personal Oasis
This article was originally published on Christie’s International Real Estate’s lifestyle blog, Luxury Defined.
Since spending so much time at home this spring, how often have you heard a variation of this story? While working in the living room or kitchen, a minor ding in the wall suddenly looks like a golf divot. The crack is fixed, and the one wall is repainted. Now the other walls in the room look shabby in comparison so they are repainted as well. House interiors—including utter clutter purges and cleaning deep-dives—have never looked better after being under a 24/7 microscope these past months.
As the weather improves and we spend more time outdoors but still at home, here are some ideas in which to focus a keen “home improvement” eye to exterior spaces as oases of relaxation.
Rock a Hammock
One need only sway in a hammock to understand restful and dreamy bliss. Here’s why: Scientists in Switzerland conducted a study proving that the hammock’s swinging motion synchronizes brain waves, allowing those swaddled in its embrace to doze off faster and attain a deeper state of snooze. This is the reason parents have rocked babies since the beginning of time, not because they were aware of the brain wave component, but because it worked.
Hammocks date back to the Mayans. They ingeniously saw that suspended beds above the ground protected sleepers from snakes, rodents, and other unwelcome jungle creatures. Hammocks migrated worldwide as a utilitarian sleeping solution in warships and while digging the Panama Canal, ultimately becoming a feature of luxury homes at the turn of the century.
Waves lapping on a sugary beach are simply more serene from a hammock’s vantage, and mountain views more majestic, too. Even your own backyard takes on a fresh perspective. Find a quiet nook, install a hammock and let the calm wash over you. Two spaced trees not required as many hammocks are now sold with a base.
Install Outdoor Art in Your Garden
No less authorities than UC Berkley and Johns Hopkins universities have published papers on the stress-reducing benefits of art—be that viewing it or creating it in all its forms. The same has been said about gardening, citing the potent healing power of nature and taking out pent-up frustrations on deep-weed roots or chopping off unruly tree limbs. And when we exercise, which gardening most definitely is, levels of serotonin and dopamine—the hormones that make us feel good—go up.
So why not combine the two? Christie’s has sold the world’s top outdoor sculptures, including Jeff Koons’s 10-foot tall Balloon Dog (Orange), which achieved US$58,405,000 in November of 2013, making it the most expensive work by a living artist to be sold at auction, a benchmark he surpassed in 2019 with the sale of Rabbit(not an outdoor sculpture) for US$91,075,000. Koons told Christie’s that his intent was to impart joy with this work.
The joy of art in concert with nature is the overriding message. So find a sculpture that makes you happy (million-dollar price tags not necessary). Dig in the dirt. And if so inclined, paint, make music, or write, basking in the fruits of your gardening efforts. Or just simply play your favorite song list while enjoying your garden . . . and swaying in your hammock.
Like it or not, we’ve all been cooking more. So while tending to your garden, think about buying a flat of herbs instead of another flat of perennials. Herbs can grow in gardens or in pots to take indoors when the night temperatures cool come October.
Egyptian schools of herbalists have existed since 3000 B.C. Herbs are mentioned in Genesis, the first chapter of the Bible. To amateur gardeners, all this is good news because it underscores the hardiness of the plants so even the least green-thumbed gardeners can realize success.
Reimagine a Gazebo
A gazebo is basically an outdoor room, making this a more ambitious project but offering multiple uses by allowing household members to reserve a slot then vacate for the next user. Because gazebos are, by definition, separate from the main residence, it affords “family distancing” when togetherness becomes overwhelming.
Dating back 5,000 years to ancient Egypt, the original concept was a retreat for the wealthy to divert precious water to enjoy flowers and vines to climb the pillars, cultivating grape wines and raisins. The Greeks disagreed with gardens as the province of the elite and so created public gardens with gazebos next to temples, which in turn, made gazebos sacred places. In Japan, a gazebo was used as a makeshift tea house, hosting tea ceremonies. More recently, the structures famously co-starred in film classics such as The Sound of Music and more recently Twilight—a romantic setting for star-crossed lovers.
Gazebos can be ornate or simple, basically an open-sided roofed platform, offering shelter from sun and rain, and designed for solitude and to bask in nature. Multiple uses include an alfresco yoga studio, reprise the peaceful Japanese tea ceremonies, or set a time for personal meditation. How about a temporary classroom for kids still learning remotely or a satellite home office? Charge up the laptop and cell phone, open the hotspot and get the job done with nature as coworker.
Walk a Home Labyrinth
This meditative technique has been around for ages, literally, but is still somewhat obscure in the modern public consciousness. Rewind way back to ancient Scandinavia, where the meditative walkway was constructed of massive stone structures to ward off trolls. They are depicted in old Roman mosaics. In the Middle Ages across Western Europe, labyrinth paths were embedded in cathedrals so the faithful who couldn’t make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem could walk a sacred path.
Since, labyrinths have evolved into a nondenominational meditative solution, especially for those who find sitting still while meditating a challenge. While it may appear to be a maze, the Labyrinth is a single path on a circuitous route with no wrong turns. The journey can begin by sounding a beautiful gong. As you walk the path, look inward, letting the world beyond disappear as you walk to the labyrinth’s core, the rosette. Here you stand, reflect and meditate as long as needed. As you slowly walk out the same path entered, the world is allowed back in. Sound the gong again. Because of time spent in the rosette, you are recharged, refocused, and empowered.
While the design is largely consistent, materials used to recreate the paths are as vast as the imagination, including low hedges, natural rock, paver stones, and gravel.
Just Listed on Lake Simcoe: 968 Degrassi Cove Pl W, Innisfil
This custom home direct waterfront home was built in 2000 by the current owner and has served as a sanctuary for family and friends. Over their 22 years of ownership, they have enjoyed the property during every season.
Degrassi Cove is a small and exclusive waterfront community and share the private road. The forested lands on the opposite side of the street provide great privacy. There is no vehicle traffic other than the neighbours, so it is very safe for kids.
Built as a 4-season home and located on the west-side of Lake Simcoe. You will enjoy north-west facing views of the lake and sunsets. There are no stairs to the water’s edge. The water table is level to the lot, which offers a beautiful beach area along the shoreline. There is great swimming and boating. The portable dock is 65 ft long with a 12’ x 12’ patio area. Boating enthusiasts can store their boat in the dry boathouse. Entertaining on the lake is so easy!
The home offers 2,700 sf on the main and upper level. The principal rooms offer generous space including a large private family room, formal dining room, large great room combined with the eat-in kitchen. In addition, there is 1,535 sf of finished space on the walk-out level. There are four generous size bedrooms. The primary bedroom is situated on the main level and overlooks the lake, and includes a five-piece ensuite, a walk-in closet and a garden door to the lakeside patio area. The three other bedrooms are located on the second floor.
The lower level includes a large recreation room with wood-burning fireplace and a walk-out to the lake. A large office with a built-in desk and bookcases can serve as a large 5th bedroom. The 3-piece bathroom is also equipped with a partially finished cedar-lined sauna. There is plenty of storage space on this level too.
Photography by @ishutterphoto
Staging by @chateau_designandstaging
This professionally designed custom-built home embodies a comfortable, vintage cottage feel built with energy efficient maintenance-free materials. This home offers a private park-like setting, with in- town conveniences. It’s a nature lover’s lot…a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. This one in in a million home was showcased in a 16-page spread in Cottages & Bungalows Magazine.
Shiplap walls and wood slat ceilings throughout impart a cabin-like coziness. The primary bedroom is secluded on the main floor overlooking a wooded area that surrounds the property. The front office duals as an additional main floor bedroom adjacent to a 3-piece bathroom. The upper level includes two additional bedrooms that provide enhanced privacy for guests. One of the bedrooms functions as a seating area with a Murphy bed and small kitchenette. It has been designed as a secure space for future rental opportunity.
Located in the charming lakeside village of Bayfield, this property is a stone-throw away from Lake Huron, a short walk to town, the fishing pier and marina, Pioneer Park and the Community playground. This spectacular property backs on to a designated environmental area and surrounded by trees makes it an ideal retreat for entertaining family and friends.
It’s no secret that green has been trending in a major way lately. Not only does the leafy shade conjure the sensation of being outdoors after two years cooped up at home, it also is a versatile (and welcome) alternative to traditional colors like white and gray.
Sweet 3 bedroom home that has a light and airy feel to the interior. Vaulted ceiling with open concept design creates a welcoming feel with plenty of natural sunlight all afternoon. Hardwood floors in bedrooms. Updated interior ready to be moved in to. It is a special place to call home or cottage.
Large wrap-around deck features West-facing views of 2-acre park of which you would be a 1/10th owner. Private dock for all park owners. Deeded Lake Simcoe access is rare to find. Very private setting with mature trees.
Message us today for more information or to book private showing.
staging by @chateau_designandstaging
photography by @ishutterphoto
20 Quiet Heights Lane, Georgina provides views of the lake from all spaces on the west side of them home, including the great room, kitchen, dining area, and primary bedroom.
You will enjoy the morning sunrise from the front covered porch and of course, sunset views from the lakeside. The natural sunlight fills the home with warmth and light all day long. It’s tranquil, serene, and welcoming.
In the design stages, the current owner had some important “must-have’s” including a Muskoka like feel, spaciousness, sun-filled rooms, and an “understated elegance“ carried throughout the home.
Some of the interior features include:
– 3 bedrooms on main level and 2 additional bedrooms on the lower level
– 3 full bathrooms plus powder room
– 10.9 ft ceiling height on the main level and 9 ft ceiling height on the lower level
– Great room includes custom millwork and 13 ft vaulted coffered ceiling
– Gourmet kitchen with upgraded appliances
– Spectacular light fixtures including ceiling fans in each bedroom
– Custom drapery and blinds
– Radiant heated floors in kitchen, primary ensuite and the entire lower level
– Surround sound system both indoors and outdoors
A full list of room features, additional images, virtual tour, and more can be found on our website (link in bio).
This listing is also available on realtor.ca (MLS# N5657656)
When you combine the attention to detail of a quality builder with the owner’s vision to create a sanctuary home, the result is spectacular.
This home offers a “Zen” feel immediately upon your arrival.
The landscaping is wonderfully appointed with a collection of perennial gardens, shrubs, mature trees and privacy hedges on both sides, which is home to many birds. There are several seating areas promote great conversation with family and friends or a place to enjoy some quiet time when you want to be alone and enjoy nature all around you.
This is a wonderful home to entertain in both indoors and outdoors. The raised balcony includes a covered area where you can enjoy a summer rain shower. The open area provides lots of space for your chaise loungers to get some sun and watch an array of boats on the lake.
The lower deck is covered and a perfect location for the 7-seater plus lounger hot tub along with another separate seating area to enjoy the lake views.
Listing Price: $1,935,000
DM us to book a private viewing.
The full listing can be found on our site & on realtor.ca (MLS# N5657656)