Ash the Expert: Landscape Architecture

Urban Retreats: The Next Trend In Health & Wellness

My husband and I recently travelled to Italy. We both fell in love with the people, and the natural beauty of the landscape. When we got home, we wanted to apply some key “life changes”, inspired while interacting with Italian culture. Specifically, we would slow down, relax, and enjoy life in “the moment”. And with this in mind, I knew right away that when Paul Brydges suggested the topic of “Urban Retreats” for his latest “Ask the Expert” interview, this topic represented perfect timing as we venture in to spring and summer 2020.

“The days of owning a second home or cottage is becoming a thing of the past” explains Paul. “There are so many projects coming into our office these days where clients are wanting that relaxing vacation experience, created just steps away from their back door. People want and need more time for themselves, but without the extra work and cost of a second space to maintain.”

It was just this past summer when Paul experienced this very desire with his own outdoor space. “It’s interesting, as I’ve spent so much time working on my client’s projects, along with travelling, volunteering, and having a family, that I forgot that I need time to unwind as well. I built this stunning backyard, yet was never experiencing it.” Paul found himself one evening spending just 20 minutes in his own beautiful space, and had become more relaxed, peaceful, and happy. For most of us this can be a rare experience, but it doesn’t have to be.

“What you need to do when planning for your own urban retreat is to get back to basics” explains Paul. “We’ve spoken about this crucial stage of any landscape project, and how you need to first think of your needs, then move on to your wants and wishes. For the wants, you need to take in to consideration things like accessibility, child and pet friendly spaces, maintenance and upkeep – all of the practical things that will lend themselves to the overall success of creating a wonderful space.”

Next, the budget. “You need to understand that you can create a retreat on various levels of finance”, says Paul. “The other thing to consider is that you don’t necessarily have to complete your dream all at once. You can space the project out, making small changes over a longer timeframe.”

This lesson has become particularly handy at my own home, as we’ve been creating a beautiful space over the last few years, and likely have a couple more projects to go before it’s complete, but it’s definitely coming along!

So what exactly makes for an “Urban Retreat”? “It’s really anything you want it to be” says Paul. “We created a space for one client that had only 2 requirements; the first was that she wanted a space to work on her art, being the creative artist that she is, and second; a great space for her dog. So that’s what we created for her.”

Two small requests were turned into a major life change for this client. Her very own retreat, a custom space that she can relax, work, create, and spend time with her ‘fur baby’!

Another retreat concept, is one in which the client wants a space created to remind them of their favourite resort, complete with outdoor kitchen, bar, pool, spa, guest house, and the list can go on. As Paul explains, “It’s simply creating a custom personal space for a client to obtain enjoyment, relaxation, and peace, in an otherwise hectic, chaotic world. It lends itself to mental health as well as physical health, and is designed specifically for the individual, or individuals who will live within it. Choose plants that you’re inspired by, flowers, water features, fire, and lighting.

Anything that you could need, want, and love.”

Now if Paul could just figure out how to move the natural beauty and coastlines of Positano Italy, into our humble backyard in Orangeville!

Written By: Kelli M. Maddocks

Author: LivingSpaces

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *