Warming up the Outsides with Wood

Clare Tattersall

A few weeks ago, I reluctantly packed away our patio furniture and barbecue, marking the official end of ‘outdoor season.’ It’s a chore I loathe doing every year, as it serves as a reminder that winter will soon arrive. Thankfully, Toronto temperatures were unseasonably warm, hitting a high of 21 C° on Saturday, and 19 C° on Sunday, which made the task more bearable.

What’s more, the weather presented the opportunity to really assess our home’s exterior; it could use an aesthetic upgrade. Like many, my family has put plans to sell our humble abode on hold amid interest rate hikes and high inflation, both of which have reduced our purchasing power. So, while we wait to jump into the real estate market, it makes sense to invest in curb appeal. Not only will it maximize our home’s potential value when we eventually list it for sale, but it will provide great joy and pride of homeownership in the meantime. These sentiments are shared by many, offering an opportunity for wood products manufacturers to tap into this burgeoning market.

Among the most popular projects that put wood first is the pergola. Extending living space outdoors, the on-trend structure is the perfect addition to a backyard, establishing a delineated spot for dining or lounging, welcoming atmosphere for guests and restful retreat. It also creates shade, eliminating direct sunlight while allowing plenty of natural light to peek through.

When fabricating a lattice designed pergola, it’s important to consider the region of the country, home’s architectural style and landscape. These factors will aid in the selection of an appropriate wood species that works in harmony with the surrounding environment.

On an actual home’s exterior, wood can be used as an accent to add texture and make a house really pop so that it stands out from the crowd. This is something we’re seeing more of, in both new builds and renovations, in the form of wood siding, porches and/or their posts, garages, window frames and more.

Wood is sustainable, authentic, adds warmth and can accommodate a variety of design styles, from rustic to modern, and stand the test of time so long as the chosen product is extremely weather-resistant. (Cedar, cypress and redwood rank high in this regard and are relatively easy to find, making them the most commonly used.)

In particular, wood siding is an ideal way to create character. Highly versatile, it offers a wide range of profiles, from rustic shakes to traditional planks to ultra-modern architectural panels, and the siding can be stained, treated or painted to create a one-of-a-kind look. Yes, some people are specifying composite materials or even wood-look aluminum for ease of maintenance, but there’s nothing quite like the most renewable building material. And since wood plays well with others, it can be paired with metal and/or concrete, for example, for a carefully curated, mixed palette home style.

Further, wood siding has a low environmental impact and is made to last when properly maintained. It also offers a strong return on investment, with a return of nearly 80 per cent, according to industry experts.

Toronto’s recent approval of the construction of garden suites in the rear yards of residential homes offers an opportunity for the application of wood beyond the main house. Green-lighted this past February by city council, these standalone structures with kitchen and bathroom are intended to function as a rental income property or an accessory dwelling unit, providing added living space.

As they’re built from the ground-up, the sky’s the limit when it comes to wood, whether using it sparingly to warm up a predominantly brick or stucco facade or employing it in abundance.



Clare Tattersall is an interior designer and decorator in Toronto, and the editor of Canada’s floor covering magazine, Coverings.

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