Search Results for: brian gluckstein outdoor furniture the bay
Tracy Hanes – Toronto Star
There’s no doubt about it — Toronto condo buyers love balconies. But renowned interior designer Brian Gluckstein is astounded by how few of these outdoor amenities get used to their full potential.
“I’m always amazed when I look at buildings and see balconies that are just these sad, vacant spaces or when people buy condos with terraces and don’t do an extensive number on them,” says Gluckstein.
Yet, purchasers are quite adamant that they want these outdoor spaces and the connection to the outdoors they provide.
“You look at condos built 20 years ago and see they have little window openings and no terraces, which is a change to what people want today,” says Gluckstein. “I just did a focus group for a new condo, and one question they were asked is whether outdoor space is important. Everyone wanted it, as big as possible. One element is that people are giving up their house, but don’t want to give up outdoor space, they just don’t want as big a garden.”
What he would like to see is people create “mini courtyards” on their balconies. “People are putting so much effort into the interiors of their suites — I’ve never seen so much interest in flooring, cabinetry and bedding — they should put the same focus on the outdoor spaces.
“It absolutely is another living space, it isn’t just a ledge hanging off a building, and it’s very valuable living space,” says Gluckstein. “The smaller the unit, more valuable it is. You want to decorate it and style it just like interior.”
He says some condo buyers are starting to treat the balcony as an extension of their indoor space.
“We (Gluckstein Design) design patio furniture for the Bay,” he says. “At our urban location, we’re seeing people starting to address that and we’re designing smaller tables with two chairs. We’re seeing an increase in that type of product. They don’t just want a supermarket stacking chair, they want beautiful patio furniture, beautiful planters.”
Gluckstein says more products are also being designed for balcony and terrace use, such as lightweight fibreglass planters which look like concrete, pewter, stone or terra cotta.
“The big change is that these planters and the new patio furniture can stay out all winter, so you don’t have to worry about storing them,” says Gluckstein. “You can create a beautiful space and don’t have to worry about what to do with it.”
Even the cold weather months offer the opportunity for beautiful balconies: “You can put pretty evergreens out there that aren’t expensive. You can leave them year round or give them away and replace them with flowers in spring.
“I’m also seeing an increase in artificial plants. I like real plants, but artificial evergreens are great for privacy on the sides of terraces. Or you can plant a few pots with real flowers and use artificial hedges.”
The new artificial turfs have come a long way too, he says. “They really are incredible and don’t have that luster they used to. I’m seeing it more and more in places, like in private gardens where grass can’t grow. It looks fantastic and it can soften a concrete terrace and help reduce the heat.”
Gluckstein says the balcony decor should echo the interior of the suite, whether it’s traditional or contemporary. He says there are a range of “fabulous fabrics” available too for patio cushions which are as stylish as those available for interior furnishings, in a wide range of patterns and colours.
Architect Peter Clewes agrees that balconies and terraces are in high demand for new condos.
“Every singe residential (condo) project we’ve done, including the Four Seasons, has balconies,” says Clewes of architectsAlliance. “I’m realizing more and more the importance of balconies. It’s nice to be able to feel the balcony is a space you want to go out to.”
He created wraparound balconies for Cresford Development’s CASA project, inspired by two beautiful buildings in the Yonge and St. Clair area and by Towerhill apartments off Spadina Rd. and has designed similar balconies for Cresford’s MYC (Merton Yonge Condominiums) in Davisville, which will offer panoramic views of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery and city skyline.
“With CASA, the wraparound balconies functionally and visually extend the living space,” says Clewes. “They take the entire frontage of the unit and it provides beautiful living space and gives some passive solar shading on the south and west. Even the small units feel much larger, which is especially apparent on the corner units. The glass in the unit goes right from the floor to ceiling, uninterrupted, with no curb detail or no bulkhead to reduce the height.”
Few condos are built without balconies, but the Residences of the Ritz-Carlton is one notable exception, says Clewes. “Toronto is a very conservative city when it comes to architecture and few people are prepared to be adventurous. The Ritz-Carlton is high-end residential and has a high quality exterior facade. It’s more about celebrating the views and less about being connected to the outdoors. That was very brave (not to include balconies) and successful.”
Clewes says balconies can present a challenge in creating balance between architectural diversity and a sense of consistency between the different condo towers in Toronto. If all projects had wraparound balconies, it would result in a “homogeneity of architecture,” he says. “You have to play with the idea of balconies and give architectural expression, yet a sense of connectedness with other towers.”
Currently, Clewes is working a tower for the Toronto waterfront — “that’s going to have enormous balconies” — that will use a special structural system not used in the city for a long time. “It allows you to do enormous cantilevers to create what will really be outdoor rooms.”
Tips for best balcony use
• Use the same design theme as inside the condo. For example, if you have traditional furnishings and decor, choose the same for your balcony.
• Look for lightweight fiberglass planters which simulate terra cotta, stone or concrete. They aren’t too heavy to carry up in an elevator and can be left out year-round.
• Buy small evergreens to put out on the balcony in winter to add a touch of greenery; give away to friends in spring and replace with blooming plants.
• Buy furniture that’s correctly sized. You should be able to walk around tables and pull out chairs comfortably
• For large terraces, break up the expanse of concrete floor with teak click-together decking or some or new realistic looking artificial turf. Don’t be afraid to use umbrellas and gazebos, too.
Hire a landscape architect to help you design your outdoor space in the sky, advises Gluckstein. Cost will be reasonable the results worth it.
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