HGTV’s Paul Lafrance Headlines Cottage and Backyard Show
A deck at the rear of your yard instead of hanging off the back of the house? Why not? asks designer Paul Lafrance. It makes a dandy destination spot in what’s probably an unused part of your property, a little sanctuary off on its own that’s a balm at the end of a stressful day.
“As an out-of-the-box thinker, one of my favourite things is to flip people’s concept of a deck upside down,” says the spiky-haired star of HGTV Canada shows such as Deck Wars and Disaster Decks. He’s also one of the celebrity designers/builders on Home to Win, HGTV’s new series premièring April 24.
Here in town, Lafrance is a key speaker at the Ottawa Cottage & Backyard Show April 8 to 10 at the EY Centre.
Continuing with the idea of the back-of-the-yard deck, he says you can also have a smaller version at your home’s rear door for a barbecue and bistro table, with a stretch of greenery between it and that slightly more distant sanctuary.
Despite his profile as The Deck Guy, Lafrance is quick to point out that his expertise extends to custom interior design and building as well. He’ll tackle both inside and out at next weekend’s show, with his topics including the difference between what’s timeless and what’s merely trendy.
Since we’re edging into spring, audience interest will likely focus on the great outdoors where, he says, lighting can transform a home.
“Low-voltage (exterior) lighting can be installed by a homeowner and look like it was done by a designer,” he says. “When the sun goes down, you’ve created an entirely new landscape.”
For decks, Lafrance urges the use of composite materials rather than wood. While more expensive than wood, low-maintenance composite construction means you can relax in your backyard instead of working all the time. It’s also a plus when you sell.
“Ultralow maintenance is huge when you’re buying a home because no one has time in our culture,” he says.
Want to tackle that deck yourself? No reason why not, provided you have the skills, equipment and appropriate permit. However, Lafrance, who offers an online design service at paullafrancedesign.com, cautions that a good design will elude many DIYers.
“People come over and go, ‘Wow, you built a big platform! Way to go, Frank!’ ” Work with a professional design and your friends will exclaim, “ ‘Holy s***, Frank — you’re a genius!’ ” he predicts.
Along with the endlessly energetic Lafrance, Dave Depencier from Cottage Life’s Reno My Reno reality TV series will speak at the show. A carpenter and home builder specializing in custom homes including log and timber frame construction, he’ll bring seminar attendees up to speed on cottage renos.
If you’re looking to buy rather than renovate a cottage, stop by Guildcrest Homes’ Eldorado I model.
The single-bedroom cottage, a new product, is 486 square feet with a generous covered porch. (The two-bedroom Eldorado II is about 200 square feet bigger.) Fully finished inside and out, the Eldorado I starts at $68,500 exclusive of shipping, lot and hookups. Order one today and you can be living in it a month down the road, according to sales and marketing manager George Tierney.
This mini country home was created to provide a quality micro loft with a modern design, Guildcrest says.
The cosy structure represents a growing move away from heavy-maintenance monster cottages, he says. “Speaking personally, I want a cottage where I can be comfortable, play cards, get a good night’s sleep. The rest of the time, I want to be outside.”
When it comes to outside, this year’s show features more than 200 exhibitors covering all aspects of cottage and outdoor life from boats and gazebos to pools and saunas.
The General Store spotlights handcrafted furniture, art pieces and tasty treats such as Fraktals’ handmade chocolate cashew buttercrunch.
Recycled wood, at once environmentally conscious and stylish, is also on the agenda thanks to 10 exhibitors in the show’s Ontario Wood section.
Rescue Wood Art of Collingwood, Ont., will feature art on repurposed wood. Minimalist designs such as a moose, a stylized evergreen tree or a Canadian flag embody a modern, rustic feel well-suited to home, cottage or ski chalet.
Look, too, for the new spring line of recycled wood products from Rustic Furniture Outlet. Offering unusual furniture and accessories for every room in the house — an industrial-themed mango chest, for instance, or a whitewash wall mirror with shelf and three drawers — the Quebec-based business has added livelier colours and different dimensions to its lineup. It’s also boasting a new selection of vanities, one-off office desks and other items.
There will also be experts at the show to help with your gardening and real estate needs.
When you’re feeling foot-weary, take a load off at the Dock Party with free drinks courtesy of Muskoka Brewery.
If you go
What: The Ottawa Cottage & Backyard Show
When: April 8 to 10
Where: EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr.
Hours: Friday, noon to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $12 (cash only); children under 17 free. Parking is $8.