Year-Round Gazebo Glory in Toronto


Lilacs in spring, snuggly blankets in winter. With weatherproof panels and seats aplenty, this gazebo is guest ready all year long

Becky HarrisBecky HarrisJul 31, 2013

Houzz Contributor. Hi there! I live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta that I’ll describe as “collected.”
I got into design via Landscape Architecture, which I studied at the University of Virginia. I’ve been writing about design online for quite a few years over at Hatch: The Design Public Blog.


Interior designer

Karen Sealy

longed to transform her tight Toronto backyard into a garden she could use year-round, spending as many months as possible outdoors. Enlisting help from friends and a crane was just the start; Sealy changes up the style of her backyard escape seasonally. Below we’ll have a gander at its jaunty summer 2013 style, along with a few shots of last winter’s layered look for contrast. Kick off your shoes, grab a cold Canadian brew and enjoy this Ontario oasis.

Patio at a GlanceWho lives here: Interior designer Karen Sealy




The tight yard is pie shaped and extends about 60 feet from the house.

BEFORE: Sealy describes the original backyard as “a gravel pit with one crazy, crazy mulberry tree and a 4-foot fence.” Located in The Beach neighborhood of Toronto, it is a typical long, narrow pie-shaped lot and is adjacent to a noisy street.

With the help of friends and a lot of sweat equity, Sealy’s garden is now an oasis she enjoys all year. A 12- by 12-foot cedar gazebo shelters part of the garden. “I wanted it to be a chunky and beautiful protected structure, but I still wanted to be able to have the ceiling disappear and enjoy the stars, the sky or a thunderstorm,” she says. A corrugated plastic roof gives her a clear view to the sky.

The aforementioned mulberry tree is now surrounded by a cedar box seat that holds a cooler for drinks and has space for stashing all of the cushions. “I love multifunctional pieces; they are a must for small spaces,” Sealy says.

She likes to use big plants to fill out the rest of the space. Elephant ears in planters do very well in the warmer months; she brings them inside for winter.

To soften the garden’s fence boundary, add shade and mask the traffic noise, Sealy and some friends dug trenches along the fence for a row of mature hawthorn trees, delivered by crane. She planted another row of purple beech trees in planter boxes in front of the hawthorns. Lilacs add lovely color and fragrance in spring.

Driftwood balls in the back can be filled with fairy lights. “They glow and create amazing shadows at night,” she says.

Sealy scooped up this indoor chandelier when a client changed her mind about using it on another project. The gazebo is covered and wired to outdoor standards, so the light fixture is safe to use here.

She updated a used table base with copper paint, then added a walnut tabletop protected with a coat of marine-gray varnish.

Chairs: Target; chandelier: Arteriors; throw pillows: HomeSense

The gazebo has weatherproof vinyl panels like those on a boat cockpit. Sealy added an extra layer of insulation with drapes on tracks inside. She loves to be able to transform the space seasonally; this past winter, she hosted a large party here. “I had more people out in the garden than I have ever fit into my house,” she says.

For the party she filled the space with cozy furniture, fired up the heater and filled baskets with mittens, scarves and blankets for her guests. It looks like there was some warming cabernet to help as well.

For summer Sealy decided to go a little nautical, though not full-on anchors-and-yacht-flags nautical. She painted the deck a soft blue and spray painted the lanterns bright yellow. “The blue color really warms up the deck and doesn’t show dirt,” she says. The yellows, creams, white and blues can also work with other decorating themes, and bringing in color with smaller accessories makes it very easy to switch out the palette.

On the other side of the fence, a path of pea gravel and stepping stones leads to a garden shed. As with most homes in the neighborhood, there is only a street-side parking pad and no garage, so the shed provides a spot for the lawn mower, other garden tools and Sealy’s bike. She scooped up the exterior bamboo mirror at a secondhand store and loves the way it reflects the garden.

“I don’t think I’ve had dinner indoors since summer began!” Sealy exclaims. She loves to match tablescapes to the relaxed and casual feel of eating outdoors, no shoes required.

More: Get ideas from more inspiring patios


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