Upgrade Your Outdoor Space With Colin & Justin

Above: We sat down with Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan to find out how to maximize your outdoor space
Above: We sat down with Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan to find out how to maximize your outdoor space

Summer is already on its way and every year you promise yourself that you will do an outdoor space makeover. You bought your place a few years ago and are still looking at just a slab of concrete out of your patio doors. We turned to the outdoor space experts, Colin & Justin. After three seasons of Cabin Pressure, these boys have proven they know how to maximize your outdoor space for our Canadian summers. We sat down with Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan to get our readers some valuable advice.

AmongMen: What is the first step before you go about creating an outdoor oasis?
Colin + Justin: Planning! You need to appraise soil conditions so you can plant accordingly, and you have to stick to a budget: it’s easy to get sidetracked and over spend.  All the big box stores now carry great quality tubs, planers and plants, so head on in there before going to more expensive specialist garden centres.  Maybe it’s the Scottish in us but we don’t like to over spend! Or check out our own outdoor furniture collection (part of ‘Colin and Justin Home’) in stores like HomeSense and Marshalls.

AM: If my space is limited but I still wanted to incorporate a lounging space and a dinning space, are there any tricks?
C+J: Furniture with ‘double duty’ is super smart.  L shaped sofas (with lift of cushions and drawers secreted below) make great sense.  And their right angled nature means they can squeeze into tight corners to properly capitalize on square footage.  We’ve just added half a dozen weather proof beanbags to a client’s terrace and they totally amplify seating as and when required.  And collapsible café sets (IKEA have these at knock down prices) are a great ‘function when you need it, stash away when you don’t’ solution.

AM:What are the most popular features you see popping up in backyards and on terraces?
C+J: People are once again adding colour.  For the last two seasons, it’s all been wood and metal (which we personally still love) but we’re glad to see colour pops being utilized all over the place. It’s all about confidence, right?  Jaunty textiles and toss pillows with verve add much needed life: we’re all about that when our clients want seasonally adjustable looks.  Moulded plastics are reappearing and anodized allu framed sofas and chairs are being specified by designers and decorators alike.  And anything with blue, yellow or red – three happy, breezy tones…

AM: I know finding good outdoor furniture is tough sometimes – where do you boys look?
C+J: Cabana Coast in Mississauga and the wondrous Hauser – branches everywhere.  Also Artemano have some gorgeous inventory.  And our total default – when budgets are tight – Canadian Tire: we used their dining chairs as part of a recent Cabin Pressure reveal and they’re amazing.

AM: If I am on a budget and already have furniture but my outdoor space feels a bit lackluster – what is the cheapest way to refresh my outdoor space?
C+J: We are HUGE fans of the spray can.  Rustoleum aerosols, for example, can make a black metal set silver or an allu set cream. Yup, whatever you need, the answers are in the can – literally.  And head into HomeSense to plunder their outdoor cushions and throws to provide a new look for less.  Tubs and containers are a fun affordable way to pad interest, as are plants and shrubs – check out Home Depot’s garden department and don’t be shy to chin the staff for all the answers.

AM: How important is lighting?
C+J: Lighting is crucial. CRUCIAL! In the same way you plan your living room or bedroom schemes (you do, right?), so too should you consider exterior lighting.  At our cottage we have clusters of solar lights hanging from branches like the indoor planting at Soho house in LA, garland lights wrapped around tree trunks (hello Miami South Beach) and stake lights punched into the earth to delineate walkways. And then there are candles.  Ah yes – those waxy lovelies that twinkle and glisten like fairy dust and fireflies…

AM: Any tips for condo dwellers who want to cover up those plain pavement balconies?
C+J: If your condo board allow, you can lay interlocking wood look tiles (IKEA have these) or visit Korhani and view their outdoor rug collection – layer up for extra atmosphere and hey presto: you’ll be transported to down town Marrakesh. Apple tea, anyone?

AM: If it seems too much to tackle on my own and one decides to hire a designer – what key information should you give them?
C+J: Make a mood board in advance – or a magazine tear collection to show your style – so your designer is suitable informed.  Clearly intimate likes and dislikes so no one is left in the dark.  Outline a budget and get a contract so each side is happy with what they give/get. Oftentimes, designers have access to special deals and discounted rates and if they pass along (at least some of this) discount it can help erase their fee.

You can catch up on all three seasons of Cabin Pressure on Cottage Life on demand and tune in to season three on Sundays at 9pm on Cottage Life channel.

Christian Dare

Christian Dare spent much of his formative years working in the fashion industry as a Visual Manager before pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Design. He is the Principal at Christian Dare Creative, the co-founder of Stylist Box and runs a successful men’s lifestyle blog, Christian Dare Edited,focusing on menswear, interior design and craft cocktails. You can find him online at www.christiandareedited.com or follow him on Twitter @christiandare but he is more fun on Instagram christian_dare. 

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