Photo credit: Houzz

There’s something irresistible about vacations. We dream of strolling along sandy beaches, discovering hidden spots amid cobbled streets, or dining alfresco under a balmy star lit sky. While flying off to your favourite far flung vacation spot might not be possible, there is a way for you to create a sense of relaxation and get-a way in your very own backyard.

Let your destination guide your style.

To twist an old saying, if you can’t make it to the mountain, bring the mountain to you.

All you need to start are a few inspired accents to recreate your destination theme.

For example, add a vibrant colourful rug, and some large terracotta pots to your outdoor space to help create a Mediterranean feel. For inspiration think of the famous country sides of France, Greece and Italy with their soft colours, bright tile patterns and drought resistant plants. You can also add touches of turquoise blue to your patio furniture, pottery, and other decorative pieces to bring the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea to your backyard.

Photo credit: Laurey W. Glen

If you have more of a rugged earthy style in mind you can tend toward woodsy elements and earth tones. Wood beams, stones and a fireplace help create a vacation-ready look.

And if a beach oasis is what you have in mind, soothing colours, sand instead of gravel, and a collection of seashells all go a long way to bringing the shore to the yard. And while you’re at it how about planting some long grasses to sway gently in the breeze while you lounge in your hammock.

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Whatever style you have in mind, take the time to plan your design first, so you’ll be sure to get it right.

Time to Dine and Cook Alfresco.

The pleasure of a delicious meal while watching a colourful sunset, sounds like a vacation for most of us. Somehow, everything tastes better outside. You can re-create this relaxed vacation vibe in your backyard by stepping up your BBQ and grill with an outdoor kitchen and dining area. The best outdoor kitchens provide enough room for food preparation, space and work surface for pots, crockery and utensils, and of course room for seating.

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Add a big outdoor table as well as other spots where you and guests can perch for light bites and drinks.

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Go as elaborate or modest or as fancy as you want. From building your own outdoor kitchen yourself, to buying a ready-made design, or paying a professional company to install high-end appliances, outdoor kitchens span a wide range and can be adjusted to most budgets. You can even add an outdoor wine fridge or sink, a wood-burning pizza oven, traditional patterned tile accents, and bistro-style fixtures and furniture, to create your own version of a café-like getaway.

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Think about installing a level hard surface outdoor floor . Not only will it keep your outdoor furniture and BBQ from sinking, but it can also create a natural flow from the inside of your home to the outside.

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Don’t forget to say no to the sun. Provide much needed shade with a patio umbrella or add value to your space with a pergola, which you can dress up with cafe lights, billowy curtains, or even a chandelier.

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Provide plenty of room for lounging around.

At every fancy resort and spa there’s a dreamy spot where guests can relax. Emulate this attitude by providing lots of comfy areas for people to put their feet up and relax. Adirondack chairs for gazing up at the night sky. A hammock for reading or indulging in a late afternoon nap. Comfy sectionals for larger gatherings.

Photo credit: HGTV Canada

You can also bring the indoors outside with rugs, coffee tables, cozy throws and plush accent pillows to create a lush and welcoming spot. Unless you want to keep a constant eye on the weather, though, these elements work best if they are all outdoor-approved materials.

Photo credit: Rodier

Custom stone furniture solves this problem and will give you a fabulously designed unique space of your own. One of the benefits, little to no maintenance is required and there’s no wear and tear from the elements. Combine stone furniture with a unique view of your landscaping and you’ll never regret skipping the get-a-way.

Photo credit: Houzz

Turn the lights down low.

Vacation days at a fancy resort don’t end when the sun comes down. Bistro lights strung from your pergola, hurricane candles on the table and tea lights placed throughout your yard add a dreamy ambiance that wraps up your relaxing day in your personal oasis. Go high tech with professionally installed outdoor lights or keep things simple. Stringing up some fairy lights along your fence or in your trees plus a couple of inexpensive garden lamps help create a dreamy atmosphere.

Another way to create warmth and ambiance? Backlighting and uplighting are excellent ways to add beauty and drama while highlighting your favourite garden areas or patio spots.

Whether you are enjoying a late dinner by yourself or entertaining guests, adding lighting lets you decide when the day and the party’s over.

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Gather around the fire.

Remember singing kumbaya and melting smores when you were a kid at summer camp or the cottage? A great way to bring back those memories and add a stunning focal point to your home resort is with a firepit, one that’s sure to draw friends and family together around its warm glow.

You can build your own circular pit from landscaping stones or purchase a ready-made one from an outdoor garden supply store.

An outdoor fireplace definitely brings a wow factor while adding value to your home. Along with providing heat, and extending your home resort’s season, some versions can be used for simple cooking, such as roasting a hotdog. Costs range drastically due to size and materials. For gas and propane types, you’ll need a gas line installed. Also, you may need electrical lines installed for fans, outlets and kitchen appliances. Central to a perfect outdoor space is proper planning. For a unique addition to your home resort hire a landscape designer who is skilled in masonry.

Photo credit: Rodier

Fire pit or fireplace, either way after a long day with a glass of wine, some chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows, you’ll have the makings for the perfect relaxing evening under the stars.

Don’t forget the fun in vacation.

Meaning don’t forget the kids when you’re planning your staycation retreat! Play houses, outdoor games, trampolines, will keep your kids entertained for hours. Easy to install and sturdy, playsets come with enough equipment for hours of fun. Think of including a shady canopied clubhouse, play kitchens, slides, swings, monkey bars. And for added fun for everyone, add volleyball nets or a pop-up soccer net.

If you’re looking for a safe way to stay cool and don’t have the money or space for a pool, a splash pad could be right for you. A splash pad is fun for kids during the day and at night when the adults are ready to entertain, makes a great water feature. They can also serve as a patio area when not in use.

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Without the hassle of packing, and traveling, a backyard resort gives you an added perk to your staycation. Skip the crowds, noise, and fees. Come and go as you please, while you escape and unwind from the daily grind in your own backyard oasis.

Change your outdoors. Change your life.

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