Outdoor furnishings retailer has just what she needs


As a managing partner of outdoor furnishings purveyor Casualife, Jill Schwartzentruber has to keep many people’s tastes in mind when selecting stock and advising clients. But for her own recently refurbished backyard in The Beach, Jill got to choose exactly what she wanted.
The main problem with the old backyard was . . . well, everything, according to Jill. “It was terrible. The ground was sandy, so it was hard to grow grass. It was a mess,” she says. “We have dogs, a dachshund and a Victorian bulldog, and everyone was muddy. I just couldn’t take another year of dogs tracking mud inside. We had been renovating indoors, and I wanted to keep it nice.
“There were dishevelled plantings down the sides. The arbour was old and decrepit, and then a huge tree fell down across our property, and the arbour ended up leaning to one side, too. We used the old backyard only a little.”
Although Jill quite naturally sourced all of her new furnishings from her own company, she turned to Natural Landscape Group to develop the yard’s design and do the landscaping for her new backyard. She desired a simple design, something “really clean, with zero maintenance.” She was looking for structure, with a patio for entertaining and a grassy area where her own and visitors’ children could play. A firepit was also on her wish list.
Natural Landscape Group gave her the structured space she wanted. The company took advantage of the entire property (25 feet wide and 40 feet deep). It replaced the old patio slate pavers with concrete slabs and then installed a long rectangular firepit on one side to delineate the conversation area. The bench seating already on the opposite side against the fence was kept, and it’s now part of a cozy dining area. Above the conversation and dining areas is a new pergola ready for the newly planted Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine to embrace.
The existing deck was also preserved, but the stairs from the basement were realigned to leave more space at ground level. The memory of mud was banished forever with the installation of luxuriantly green artificial turf, which is low-maintenance and able to handle whatever the dogs do to it.
With items from Casualife Outdoor Living, Jill has a fully furnished garden room. She opted for an eclectic mix of materials: wooden tables and bench, woven tub chairs and sofa, teak chairs. True to style, the main tones are all neutral, with deep blue fabric on the dark brown sofa’s cushions to ground the ensemble and patterned throw pillows to add interest.
There’s one more task left: to replace the railing on the deck and stairs with glass for a clean look. Once that’s done, Jill will have the quietly comfortable and unfussy backyard she’s been longing for.

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