I outdoor living
Stouffville property inspires DIYers to
make the most of great outdoors
GOING ALL OUT
by Lee Ann Waterman
When Mary Attwell and Robert Bowman walked removed some of the boards to open it up, and later
onto the one-and-a-half-acre property in Whitchurch- replaced the entire structure with one featuring large
Stouffville three years ago, they knew they had come glass panels held in place by sleek metal frames. The
home. The 2,200-square-foot, 20-year-old bungalow boards of the deck were given new life with a coat of
was nothing special, but the land was spectacular. black paint.
“We were just blown away,” says Ms Attwell. “The A large evergreen was causing similar obstruction
property was so breathtaking.” of the view from the sunroom. Mr. Bowman trimmed
The husband and wife are committed DIYers. “My up the lower branches, and Ms Attwell prettied up the
passion is decorating,” says Ms Attwell, who is also a area beneath with a variety of perennials – shasta
smart, seasoned shopper. Mr Bowman is a pretty daisies, phlox, hydrangea and Veronica spicata – all
accomplished home handyman, who can build a with white flowers, she says, stand out even in the
custom wall unit, lay a stone patio and wire an moonlight.
outdoor chandelier on a dimmer. Any work they have They’ve added furniture in strategic locations for
done to the outside of their home – and in some cases enjoying the pond: a pair of Muskoka chairs here, a
the inside as well – has been done with an eye to bench there, and a lovely wrought iron gazebo. It sits
enhancing and enjoying the view. on a circle of interlocking bricks, features a round
Ms Attwell’s favourite feature of the property is the table and four chairs, and is lit by a sparkly chandelier.
pond, which is surrounded by majestic willows and Planting boxwoods and miniature coral and yellow
attracts wildlife such as geese, beavers, muskrats and roses around the gazebo gives the area a formal feel.
blue herons. Large black urns are filled with annuals – for time-
“As soon as I get up in the morning, I can’t wait to saving and instantly-lush arrangements, Ms Attwell
look out the window,” she says. buys premade hanging baskets to fill the urns, adding
Unfortunately, the view to the backyard from the a spiky plant for some height – and the entrance is
family room off the kitchen was obscured by the deck guarded by two large stone gargoyles.
railing – wide boards painted white. They immediately Scale, says Ms Attwell, is important: anything but
36 north of the city
A pond lined with willow trees is one of the main attractions of the one-and-a-half-acre property.
A round brick patio provides the base for an iron wrought gazebo – an ideal spot to enjoy
morning coffee or light lunch and a view of the pond.
n o r t h of the c i t y 43
very large planters and statues would have
been overwhelmed by the wide open space.
They put the most work however into
their outdoor entertaining area – a large,
interlocking stone patio that has been
divided into two “rooms” – one for eating, one
for lounging. Each area is covered by a 10-
by-12-foot gazebo of dark brown metal with
a resin roof; purchased assembly-required
from Rona, each one took 10 hours for Mr. SURE SLIM
Bowman to erect. Chocolate brown curtains
are tied back with large tassels that Ms
Attwell found at the Stouffville Flea Market
for $2 apiece.
The living room is dominated by an
outdoor sectional, chair and ottoman
(purchased at Canadian Tire) in chocolate
brown with fresh green cushions. Ms Attwell
added down-filled throw pillows for texture
and comfort. A brick knee wall planted with
tall grasses provides a sense of privacy.
Accessories and a chandelier on a dimmer –
a heavy, wrought iron garage-sale find
painted black – complete the space.
For the dining room, the pair decided to
go custom. They love to entertain and Ms
Attwell wanted a table that could sit 10
people. At Century Lumber in Stouffville,
they purchased 10-foot lengths of African
padauk. The pieces were glued together
seamlessly, with a rough bark edge left on
either side, to create a large, rustic table. Mr.
Bowman oiled and varnished the wood to
protect it from the elements. Over time the
colour has deepened, its lighter red tones
replaced by a deeper brown, the bark leaving
a lighter stripe on the edges. A candle
chandelier to which Ms Attwell affixed two
sets of deer antlers and spray-painted gloss
black hangs above the table. Resin wicker-
look armchairs in chocolate brown (also
from Canadian Tire) offer comfortable
seating and are stackable for easy storage.
A wrought iron sofa table provides
serving space. Above it, Ms Attwell has
placed a stylized sun mirror and two candle
scones with scroll details mirroring that of
the candle chandelier.
Although the sprawling backyard is
clearly the focus of their efforts, Ms Attwell
and Mr. Bowman have also worked to give
the front of their property some needed curb
appeal. They removed two overgrown lilac
bushes and created large curving beds that
can be seen from the road. In them, they
north of the city 39
Top, left: For Robert Bowman and Mary
Attwell, taking their back entertaining area
from bare to beautiful required vision, time
and getting their hands dirty. The end result
is stunning and includes separate dining
and living areas.
Top, right: To enhance the view from their
kitchen, the white railing on the existing
deck was replaced with large glass panels
held in place by sleek metal frames.
Above: A custom table made from African
padauk wood bought at Century Lumber in
Stouffville provides comfortable outdoor
seating for 10.
Left: This shaded sectional offers lots of
room for friends and family to relax
outdoors. Details like the chandelier, down-
filled pillows and artwork give the space a
real “living room” feel.
44 n o r t h of the c i t y
Overgrown lilac bushes were
replaced with small-scale
shrubs and perennials
in the front garden.
planted smaller evergreens – dwarf Alberta of these gardens is a two-tiered birdbath that
spruce, blue star juniper, boxwoods, yucca – Ms Attwell assembled from two smaller
and perennials chosen for their contrasting birdbaths and topped with a pineapple garden
colours – palace purple coral bells with their ornament. On the bottom tier is a large
purple to bronze leaves; autumn joy sedum; grapevine wreath in which Ms Attwell plants
beacon silver lamium, a ground cover with succulents (that are watered every other day).
metallic-green leaves and pink flowers. Garden The result is a one-of-a-kind addition to the
art includes a pagoda and two Chinese foo dog space.
statues. Black urns, which last year were The outdoor space is still a work in
planted with fuchsia geraniums, flank the front progress – Ms Attwell can list a dozen projects
doors. she would like to accomplish in the coming
Other gardens to the side of the house months and years – but she and Mr. Bowman
feature Japanese maples, corkscrew hazel, are able to balance their time between
spiral Alberta spruce, ferns, Frances William improving their home and enjoying it.
hostas, double-blooming purple clematis and “We just love it,” says Ms Attwell. “We are
hot pink carpet roses. A unique feature of one so lucky to be living here.” n
A self-described “very good summer. And she brings her outdoor
shopper,” Ms Attwell offers these table into her finished basement to
tips to readers looking to add some use when she hosts large dinner
style to their home – inside or out. parties in the winter.
HILTON • Fashionably late: Shop at the • Don’t discount the discount
end of the season for deals. Buy stores: Ms Attwell has her favourites
perennials in the fall and holiday among higher-end stores (Brampton
items at the end of December, etc. Galleries and The Queensbridge Mill
And don’t be afraid to ask for a are two), but she’s also a big fan of
better price than what is advertised. HomeSense and Winners,
• Double duty: Look for items consignment shops, flea markets
that you can use from one season and warehouse sales.
to the next. For example, in • Trust your instincts: When you
December Ms Attwell bought find a piece you love and fits your
Christmas balls in a celadon green – style, pick it up – even if you’re not
one of the main colours in her exactly sure how you’ll use it. “If I
outdoor space – and is certain she think it’s a good price and it speaks
can find a use for them this to me, I buy it,” says Ms Attwell.
40 north of the city