Sea­sons of Change

Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine - - The Outdoor Kitchen - with Dave Maci­ulis Cer­ti­fied Land­scape De­signer, Nat­u­ral Land­scape Group

When it comes to cre­at­ing the per­fect out­door cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing space, a ren­o­va­tion re­nais­sance is hap­pen­ing in Toronto’s back­yards. Out­door spa­ces are in­creas­ingly mir­ror­ing the in­doors, and in­stead of a back­yard be­ing us­able for a mere four months of the year, back­yard grilling is hap­pen­ing through to the colder win­ter months.

To­day, it’s not un­com­mon for home­own­ers to spend more than $40,000 to cre­ate their dream out­door liv­ing spa­ces. From DCS Grills to fire pits and the per­fect peren­ni­als to plant, here are Maci­ulis’ key 2018 trends to ex­tend your out­door liv­ing.

A Grill to Last

In the past, home­own­ers were of­ten re­luc­tant to in­vest in a grill that

would en­dure, opt­ing in­stead for cheaper mod­els that ul­ti­mately couldn’t out­last the sea­sons and def­i­nitely weren’t an en­ter­tainer’s show­piece.

This year, how­ever, DCS re­leased a game changer with its Se­ries 9 model. The de­sign­ers have thought of ev­ery­thing when it comes to func­tion­al­ity and per­for­mance; it’s ef­fort­less to use, beau­ti­ful to look at–and durable. From the range of foods it can cook, through to light­ing and rack­ing for easy use, this Se­ries 9 grill will take your out­door cook­ing to the next level.

“When I got my DCS Grill I was ex­cited about the Hy­brid In­frared Burner that is great for sear­ing meat. There’s cur­rently a trend for grilling bite-sized tapas and the DCS Se­ries 9 is per­fect for that,” says Maci­ulis.

While de­vel­op­ing the Se­ries 9 Grill, the de­sign­ers delved into what peo­ple cooked mid-week com­pared to the week­end. Armed with this in­for­ma­tion, they

made sure that light­ing was in­te­grated in the right places. They also cre­ated a sec­ondary cook­ing sur­face to en­sure the cook has all the right tools to cre­ate the per­fect meal.

A room out­doors

Of­ten land­scape de­sign­ers in Toronto found clients were keen to turn their out­door spa­ces into typ­i­cal English coun­try gar­dens, build­ing on Canada’s her­itage and link­ing back to Vic­to­rian gar­dens with their beau­ti­ful blooms and high main­te­nance.

How­ever, there’s been an evo­lu­tion that has seen these spa­ces move away from these tra­di­tional gar­den and more to a func­tional out­door liv­ing area. In 100 out­door area jobs, 75 per­cent of them opted for a qual­ity al­fresco kitchen.

“I find my­self be­ing more of an in­te­rior de­signer – what we are com­ing up with are more like rooms and at its nu­cleus is the kitchen space,” says Maci­ulis.

Clients’ needs are chang­ing to en­sure their out­door spa­ces have a top grill, stain­less steel sink, a side burner and a trash cen­ter, and they’re will­ing to spend the money needed to trans­form these ar­eas.

A gar­den to eat

What you plant comes down to one ques­tion, ac­cord­ing to Maci­ulis. How much time do you have dur­ing the week to main­tain your out­door spa­ces?

Many peo­ple want to spend less time gar­den­ing and more time en­joy­ing the space, but they also want to get the most out of what they grow. There is a trend to in­cor­po­rate a lot of ed­i­ble green­ery like herbs, straw­ber­ries, egg­plants and to­ma­toes in out­door spa­ces.

This means more con­tainer plant­ing and fewer lush and abun­dant flow­ers dom­i­nat­ing the out­door area.

Of course, as the need to keep your out­door space look­ing good all year around has started to in­crease, you’ll con­sider what to plant. Maci­ulis sug­gests peren­ni­als, or­na­men­tal grasses and ev­er­greens.

Light it up

There’s an art to get­ting the right light­ing out­doors. It’s not just illuminating space - when used ef­fec­tively it can en­hance and add fea­tures you wouldn’t think pos­si­ble.

First, there is func­tional light­ing, as liv­ing out­doors grows, mid­week cook­ing is likely to be at twi­light or in the dark, so you need to see what you are cook­ing. The DCS Se­ries 9 Grill has an in­te­grated hood light that beau­ti­fully il­lu­mi­nates the food and bezel di­als. These turn orange when the grill is on.

Next, light can be used to show­case what is planted in your out­door space.

Illuminating your out­door ar­eas by strate­gi­cally plac­ing lights to en­hance colours, shapes and shad­ows at night brings a whole new di­men­sion to a gar­den area.

Maci­ulis likes to give home­own­ers the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence all the senses when they are en­joy­ing an out­door space from the scent of flow­ers through to tree pods gen­tly rat­tling in a light breeze.


Your stan­dard lum­ber deck is slowly be­ing phased out in favour of the more ex­pen­sive Polyvinyl chlo­ride (PVC) va­ri­eties that look like wood but don’t rot and re­quire min­i­mum main­te­nance.

With many homes be­ing built more nar­row and taller, PVC decks on the first floor are of­ten be­com­ing the over­hang shel­ter for the out­door area down­stairs. In­cor­po­rated into this are heaters, stereo sys­tems and light­ing.


Maci­ulis calls it the “fire­tain­ment cen­ter” – out­door fire­places and fire pits have be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, pro­vid­ing the es­sen­tial warmth for out­door spa­ces so you can spend more time out­doors in the cooler months.

Fire pits are a nat­u­ral gath­er­ing point in your out­door oa­sis and can run on wood, propane or nat­u­ral gas. Home­own­ers are also repli­cat­ing their in­door heating sys­tems by us­ing more af­ford­able elec­tric fire­places out­side. ~

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