Marcelo & Magela Take it Outside

It’s always a pleasure to revisit a home I’ve blogged about before although in this case it’s the outside that’s been transformed since my last house tour. Marcelo Palacios is a professional landscaper (Landscaping De Sol a Sol) which means that his summers are busy with little or no time to get away with his wife and design partner, Magela, and their two young children. The solution was to turn their own home into a weekend oasis where everyone could play and relax and make the most of summer.

The Palacios own a lovely but unremarkable detached brick house in North Toronto. At 25′ x 105′, their lot is pretty typical of the neighbourhood, a decent size but hardly a personal country club. The couple wanted a pool for the children but didn’t want to sacrifice the entire yard, which can have a big impact on resale value. Their solution was to go small with an 8′ x 12′ plunge pool, beautifully tucked into a back corner of the garden. No, you cannot swim laps in this compact little heat-buster but it’s big enough for cannonballs and for the entire family to cool off at the end of a tough day on a job site.

The approach left the Palacios with three distinct backyard spaces, a deck for grilling and al fresco dining, a small green space in which to kick a ball and the patio/pool for cooling off and lounging.

Of course, the pool and beautiful barn-board shed had to look good, this is a showpiece after all, for Marcelo’s company, and all of the work has been done to the highest spec. The shed with sliding barn doors houses the pool heater/equipment with enough room for disrobing.

There’s also room for two seating areas, a pair of chaises for sunning and a bistro table for drinks and snacks.

Magela has staged the space beautifully with blue and white cushions and towels and vintage, metal planter boxes scored from the Abrefolyle antiques market ($30) and from Arthurs Furniture in New York ($99 dollars each). Says Magela, “Two little ones came with the new GMC truck we added to our company this year; when Marcelo found the truck he said, ‘I guess you have two more little military boxes for your flowers.’ ”

Big changes to the property were also made on the deck where a window was enlarged to create a kitchen pass-thru and the patio doors were replaced with swinging french doors.

The connection now between indoors and outdoors feels seamless and family life flows beautifully between the two spaces.

The deck sports some other inventive solutions: a former planter box has been repurposed as a drinks cooler and now company and can lounge on the steps around the station greatly expanding the seating possibilities.

Marcelo also created clever grilling perches by adapting a couple of old Steamwhistle kegs into funky patio stools.

He adapted his barbeque, too, scoring the Weber charcoal grill on an end-of-season sale, then using the standard-issue plastic work surface as a template to have a new granite top cut to size.

One final note about the Palacios’s backyard makeover. A central feature of the property is a sizeable Beauty Bush that blooms soft pink in late spring. Magela guesses the tree was planted when the house was built and the landscaper in Marcelo wouldn’t hear of losing such a fine natural feature. So he designed the yard around the tree, which I made a special trip to see last week as it came into bloom. The mounds of pink flowers are truly icing on a beautiful cake.

If you’re in the market for some outdoor landscaping and you’re looking for a talented and reputable design/build team to do the work, you could hardly do better than Landscaping De Sol a Sol.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 865 posts on styleNorth.

8 Comments For This Post

  1. Liza Says:

    Lots of very good ideas, and an attractive, functional space. Great post!

  2. Bev Says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! They did a great job with a smaller footprint. I love the pool idea and size. Perfect for all stages of life. I can see it as an intimate sized pond for empty nesters too who want the refreshing idea of a pool but not a larger one to look after.


  3. Mary Says:

    I agree with both commenters. Lots of good ideas here, the beer keg seats, the retrofit granite worktop, the kitchen pass-through and especially the planter-cum-drinks station — genius! They look like a lovely family and it’s obvious the kids are enjoying the pool.

  4. Lis Says:


  5. Marilyn Says:

    An absolutely fabulous use of a small space. I now know who to get to design my yard should our upcoming move include the small space I’m looking for.

  6. Julie Says:

    Agree. A lovely looking space. Thoughtfully done. Also, interested to see what a beauty bush should actually look like. Now I know how to prune mine.

  7. barb Says:

    Are you able to tell me where the dinning room ceiling light fixture is from? I have been looking for one just like it.


  8. Magela Bruno Says:

    Restoration hardware , that were we got them Barb , I love them and they were pretty reasonably priced .

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