Could renovating be the new travel?

CityLine design expert Brenda Danso on investing in home upgrades instead of a vacation this year


Brenda landed a spot as a Design Expert on CityLine in 2020. She graced the cover of Living Luxe magazine and was listed as one of Toronto’s influential designers.

Imagine a warm sunny escape with friends or family, where you enjoy relaxing and delicious dinners every night followed by games or dancing under a beautiful private trellis…. That sounds like a luxury vacation somewhere hot and exotic, doesn’t it. But I’m describing a new backyard oasis in Ontario. Many people are opting to invest in improving their homes, indoor and outdoor, instead of travel, perhaps because of the overcrowding we’ve seen in airports and at the borders these days.

One of my clients says, “The travel chaos seen during spring and summer was enough to sway me toward renovating versus travelling. One big pro for doing a backyard renovation was the immediate enjoyment of the new space,” he says. “Within one week, we had an outdoor extension of our home that will continue to be enjoyed by myself and my family for years to come. It also increased the value of our property, which meant that the money spent will come back in the future, which is always a bonus!”

So instead of a vacation, why not invest the money in a home transformation that you can call your own year after year? With design and contractor support, you can create a new space to enjoy nearly year-round.

Like my client and his family, try replacing an out-of-date deck with a multi-zoned deck that is built for different purposes that suit their lifestyle. For my client, we created an area for the barbecue, a lounging area with a pergola (think open space meets privacy) and a dining space, all of which come together as a true extension of the home. The key is to make sure you’re using good material for a long-lasting oasis, such as pressure-treated wood. Not only is it cost effective and rot resistant, it brings a warm feeling to your backyard with its attractive brown tone.

Once you’ve got your deck built and zoned to match your lifestyle, it’s time to elevate your new space even further. The key? Personal touches that complement the wood, like neutral-coloured patio chairs and a mix of fixed and patio seating with a coffee table, which can easily be exchanged for a fire pit when the seasons change. Also, add some greenery and vibrant decor to add a pop of colour.

Adding a mirror in your backyard can be an intentional design decision. You don’t often see mirrors outside, so it’s unexpected but also helps to enhance the space. All in all, between neutral furniture and pops of colour, greenery and unique decor, you’ll create a personalized look and feel that will make your backyard stand out.

Now my client and his family are spending more time outside and look forward to staying at home with friends and family.

“We now have a space that is not only more functional and enjoyable, but also one that is more aesthetically pleasing. It’s the perfect spot to both entertain and relax,” he says.

Not only that, but this outdoor living space is also one that pays dividends.

“You’re making your home a place that you and your friends and family want to go and enjoy themselves for more than just a few days or a week per year,” he says. “A backyard renovation means your home is a travel destination. I like the thought of that.”