No need to jet off to a faraway land this summer when you can enjoy the perfect sanctuary right at home.
BY NESSA PULLMAN
For some of us, summer vacation means getting on a plane and heading off to a luxurious destination. There are plenty of reasons to stay close to home this year, however, and it’s not just because of the rising prices or flight delays. Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to spend the summer, and more people are choosing to make their vacation a staycation instead, with a little help from some strategic design inspiration.
“Nothing compares to being able to throw your feet up and relax in a space that already brings you a sense of comfort,” says Dan Sauve, co-founder of Velocity Projects. “People spend a lot of money on a vacation that only lasts two weeks. You might as well invest that money into a place you can use over and over again.”
For those who choose to stay close to home this summer, Spruce has talked to the experts to find out how to make the most of it.
Summer’s long, warm days mean spending more time outside, so the best way to make your home vacation ready is to start with the backyard.
For Sauve, when he’s creating environments to captivate people all summer long, he looks at creating a tropical atmosphere.
“Lush trees and exotic plants add privacy and ambiance to a space,” he says.
Time with friends and family is often a hallmark of a good vacation. Ensure comfort for everyone by organizing a variety of couches, lounge chairs and benches for visitors to choose from as they soak up the sun — and don’t forget about engineering shade for those scorching days, too, whether by strategic placement, umbrellas, pergolas or shelters.
“Having lots of comfortable seating will help your guests feel that they, too, can kick back and relax,” says Sauve.
When the sun goes down, you’ll want warmth close by to keep the vibe alive. Concrete fire pits, wood-burning stoves or stand-alone heaters are all good options to keep an outdoor space comfortable, Sauve suggests.
A cool place to hang
If you’re planning to spend a lot of time outside this summer, it may be time to consider a more drastic overhaul.
An outdoor kitchen for preparing your meals is an elaborate feature made for serious cooking and hosting enthusiasts. Beyond a classic grill and patio set, outdoor kitchens are major undertakings and often include built-in ranges, refrigerators, sinks, storage and prep space large enough to host a party — after all, the kitchen is typically the hub of any gathering. The materials you choose, from hardware and countertops to cover and flooring, are important details for year-round realities.
“You want to ensure you use bulletproof items that can stand against the weather,” says Chris Walker, founder of Christopher Developments.
Stainless steel or concrete provides an esthetically pleasing look while offering durability. Shelter is essential for food-prep areas, too. Having either a fixed or removable roof will be a lifesaver if the weather takes a turn.
Another major modification to consider for the hotter days is a refreshing pool. Adding water elements doesn’t need to be extravagant, however. Walker has worked with many homeowners to make their abodes places to vacation. He suggests creating a lounge ambience outdoors by adding a water feature, such as a small pond, waterfall or fountain. It’s not only visually appealing.
“Water sounds add a soothing effect,” says Walker. “A small, cold plunge pool is sometimes all you need.”
While they won’t win any style points, even the most basic temporary pool structures can provide a fun and refreshing activity for kids and adults in warm weather. Keep appropriate safety measures (like restricted fencing) and maintenance in mind, however, even when erecting something small-scale.
When it’s time to take a break from the heat, having a good-quality air conditioning system is vital for bringing that vacation experience indoors. Forced-air systems, including heat pumps, can drastically save on heating and cooling costs and provide a remarkably comfortable environment all year long. With ever-warmer summers, these systems are becoming more popular, even on the Island.
If that isn’t quite in the budget, though, there are a few other tricks you can implement. Walker suggests extending the roof overhang so it blocks the afternoon sun from entering the home, keeping the house significantly cooler. Thick blinds and mindful window placement can also contribute to an airtight interior for cooling off inside.
Time away from it all
Besides the practical changes, “vacation living” admittedly comes with a few perks less common in our day-to-day residences, like enjoying a hotel atmosphere, chore-free space, less clutter, no work commitments and a relaxed schedule — maybe even a vacation-themed menu.
Consider how you could gift yourself these experiences for less than the cost of that trip to Bermuda. It could mean investing in a weekly cleaning service for the summer, hiring a one-time organizer to help sort those mounds of papers, committing to a week with absolutely no plans, planning your own “hobby” time where the only priority is doing what you want, or enlisting a meal-delivery service.
You don’t have to jet off to a faraway place to achieve that luxurious getaway. Some of it comes down to renovating your state of mind.
“It’s quite special to enjoy a space you’ve built to suit your needs,” says Sauve. “You can’t get that at a resort.”