Building Your Backyard Paradise – Polanco’s Summer 2021 Guide to Outdoor Design

All of this time spent at home has left Canadians with a new definition of what “home” really is. Many are realizing that their homes are more than just a remote office or a place to binge Netflix before bed – they are a space to express and live inside your own unique ideas of comfort. With the snow melted and the summer sun around the corner, many are ready to take these new ideas outside.


“With the last year of lockdowns and new restrictions,” says Polanco’s co-founder Mandy Renfrew, “people have been planning their outdoor space for months now.” Since even as far back as last summer, according to Mandy, clients and customers have been focused on the design choices and items that will allow them to cultivate an exterior space that is as comfortable and inviting as possible.



Even with interest in achieving the perfect outdoor space approaching new highs, the journey of bringing your idea of paradise into a reality has never been more exciting due to the wide array of styles and types of outdoor furniture currently available.



Whether you are designing your summer space for the first time or reprioritizing a neglected backyard, you will be relieved to know that outdoor décor has come a long way from flimsy plastic patio chairs. At the forefront of this evolution are Polanco’s acclaimed home design services and dynamic variety of outdoor furniture and accessories from Canadian suppliers.


“Outdoor furniture has reached a point where it’s easy to really create ‘room settings’ in your exterior spaces,” says Mandy. “Sectionals, sofas, swivel, or rocker chairs, you can buy almost anything to put in your outside space now.”



Drawing on her decades of design expertise, Mandy advises that whatever your space or style goals are, the key is to treat one’s outdoors as an extension of the unique sense of comfort that makes them feel at home. “I always tell my clients the importance of carrying our indoors into the outdoors – we want to focus on the same feel of the space. If you have a contemporary home, you’re not going to do a traditional outdoor space, and vice versa.”



Mandy believes outdoor spaces can best display your personality and taste through accessories, rather than loud or overly expressive centerpieces. “By keeping the colours and style of your main pieces neutral,” says Mandy, “not only do you not tire of them, but it allows the open space of gardens and trees to be appreciated.”



Knowing the impact accessories have on bringing a space to life, Polanco offers a robust variety of accents and accouterments for your outdoors, all united by their focus on careful handicraft. In addition to a range of unique outdoor lanterns and planters, Polanco also offers custom-made pillows made with fabrics individually curated by Mandy and a selection of outdoor rugs handcrafted in upstate New York.


Another accessory that Mandy highlights are patio umbrellas, which Polanco initially began carrying as a needed shelter from the sun before the designer in her quickly realized their style potential. “The colours of many of our umbrellas are bright and really vibrant,” she says, “so they allow you to create your own personality in your outdoor living space while providing needed shade.”


No matter the layout or goals you find yourself working with, though, Polanco understands that for these accessories to shine, durable and designer-focused outdoor furniture is required.


For smaller spaces and those looking to bring a more boutique feel to their garden or terrace areas, Mandy highlights Couture Jardin. Jardin’s lines, which she describes as having a more minimal look, “show that just because you don’t have a big space doesn’t mean you can’t have nice outdoor pieces.”




For those with more elaborate spaces (or more elaborate ideas), the dynamic variety offered by Cabana Coast may be more to their liking. As opposed to Couture Jardin, not only does the line “have large-scale pieces to help decorate larger backyards or pool areas,” but Mandy also points to Cabana Coast’s wide array of styles, ranging from minimal, to contemporary, to the more traditional.


Blending classic and contemporary styles together is Mountain House’s line of outdoor living furniture, whose collection of tasteful and refined designs, Mandy says, offer something for those looking for pieces that are a little less traditional while still managing to be practical and comfort-forward.




While Polanco’s commitment to first-class comfort and decor means that all of these lines come from Canadian suppliers and are commercial-grade, there’s perhaps no finer guarantee of their quality and durability than Mandy’s usage of them – not only as an interior designer but as a homeowner as well.


“My furniture, in our own home on our patio, we’ve had for twelve years, and we’re still selling those exact pieces. Since they are premium lines that all come in unique finishes, it’s not something you are going to dispose of in a year,” Mandy shares. “They’re built to withstand the elements – especially in Canada and Ottawa.”


In a city where the summers can arrive late and leave early, the importance of low-maintenance and weather-resistant furniture should not be underestimated when it comes to maximizing the enjoyment of your outdoor space. For this reason, Mandy believes we should move away from looking at weather resistant or low-maintenance pieces solely for their practicality, and instead approach them in terms of comfort.



“Goal number one: you want to be comfortable,” she says, “which means you want to spend as little time or energy as possible when it comes to maintenance in your outdoor space. We’re all busy enough, we don’t want to be spending a lot of time maintaining the space, but rather enjoying the nice weather while we can.”


Overlooking the importance of hardy or weather-resistant furniture when creating your outdoor oasis can interrupt your enjoyment of it in a variety of ways, whether it be cleaning the furniture or waiting for it to dry, or having to outright replace certain items. Investing in premium pieces made to withstand the elements – along with the proper protective accessories – is not just a practical solution to this, but can also be a stylish one.


Offerings from Couture Jardin, Cabana Coast, and Mountain House all have corresponding protective coverings, allowing homeowners to not just extend the lifespan of their favourite pieces, but also grant their overall space a greater sense of matching and aesthetic continuity.


A major way to create an exterior living area that is both cozy and resilient is through the addition of an outdoor fireplace. Lines such as Dekko Concrete offer ultra-lightweight concrete firepits as an easy-to-install, modern solution for extending the comfort and lifespan of your outdoors. “For many reasons, outdoor fireplaces can be key for your patio or living area,” says Mandy. “It creates warmth and ambiance, but it also extends the life of your outdoor space.”



Fireplaces allow one to enjoy more of their outdoors not only through the summer – they allow one to enjoy more of their outdoors, period. “With outdoor fireplaces, you can use them into October or November,” according to Mandy. “I even saw my neighbours having theirs going on in March.”