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A great outdoor space is more than just the sum of its parts. That’s something Stéphan Beaulieu really seems to understand. The Montreal contractor is the very hands-on president of Patios et Clôtures Beaulieu inc., a company that specializes in designing and building landscape structures that last. His award-winning projects have been featured on several magazine covers. And for good reason – his craftsmanship and flair for design are both truly inspired.
“I believe that an outdoor environment is much more than a deck and fence,” says Beaulieu. “It’s a personal and intimate space where people interact and create memories. A deck should be an extension of your personality as well as an extension of the inside of your home.”
And no space is too small for Beaulieu to work his wonders. He recently completed a fully loaded urban oasis on a 20’ X 40’ lot. Through the ingenuity of his design, this compact backyard now boasts a hot tub, dining area, lounge, kitchen, shed, two suspended chairs and a parking space accessible by a sliding door through the fence. Unbelievably, there’s nothing cramped about this layout. There is an undeniable flow to all these structures. So how does he do it?
Well, one thing’s for sure, he only works with building materials that fuel his passion for carpentry.
“Because we use Western Red Cedar, we’re confident that each moving element will stay straight and function properly – even after the wood has dried,” he says, adding, “Build it strong, build it well, build it only with sustainable materials that are FSC certified like Western Red Cedar.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Beaulieu uses WRC on all of his projects… without exception.
He explains: “WRC keeps its stability and beauty and naturally fights decay for more than 20 years – even with repeat exposure to extreme changes in temperatures, moisture and sun. Plus, it’s a renewable, carbon fixing and recyclable product that nature creates for free!”
Thinking of revamping your outdoor space? Here are Beaulieu’s top 5 pro tips to help get you started:
1. Prep with Paper
“Make a list of needs with your family. Take your time, and rewrite the list until everybody’s satisfied. Then start sketching on regular graph paper, using one square as one foot. Cut out all the definite elements like the BBQ and the hot tub, for example. Then move them around until you get the flow you think is best.”
2. Do a Dry Run
“Get outside and draw the design with a rope, sticks or anything to define the spaces. Leave those physical layouts in place for at least one week and pretend you’re using the space with your family. If you’re keeping existing table and chairs, place them inside your virtual space to confirm dimensions. Have fun with it!”
3. Incorporate Funky Fencing
“Sure, a fence is great for creating privacy or security, but it should be as beautiful as it is functional. As backyards get smaller and smaller, a fence becomes more and more like the walls of your outdoor home and its esthetic should be treated as a key element in the overall feeling of your environment.”
4. Follow the Rules
“Build it to code and respect all your municipal by-laws. That way your project will be safe and solid. Also, getting slapped with city-ordered modifications after you’ve already completed a project can be quite costly.”
5. Build with the Best (because it bears repeating)
“Considering the quality/price ratio, Western Red Cedar is the best material you can use to create beautiful and long-lasting outdoor structures. Period.”