June 20, 2024

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Do you ever dream about being really rich? I do, most recently when I got an email about a new luxury wellness resort—a stunning sea-side sanctuary where tension and fatigue melt like butter under the Mediterranean sun.

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For the record, the news release was about ACRO Suites in Crete. Resting on the quiet, pebbly Mononaftis Bay, the site has 49 suites and villas, all with views of the Aegean Sea. Some fit neatly into cliffside, and are furnished with restful natural décor elements; others are contemporary villas with private infinity pools that seem to spill into the serene blue sea.

If I ever go, I’ll bring back a full report. In the meantime, I can dream about ways to channel a high-end spa vibe at home. Taking the textured stones of the Acro landscape and design as inspiration, top on my list would be to add side tables from Patricia Urquiola’s Plumon outdoor line for high-end brand Kettal.

They’re made with 3D-stoneware printing technology, which means that there can be variation between pieces. What they share is the washed, pebbled finish of sun-bleached stone. Kettal prices and availability through studio b.

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Home Société, which houses several in-house and partner design brands under one roof in Toronto’s northwest corner, caters to various budgets for outdoor and transitional spaces. For the connoisseur of excellent seating, there’s an Adirondack armchair reimagined by French designer Pierre Stelmaszyk for Belgian outdoor luxury company Royal Botania.

Handcrafted from teak, it’s a perfect chair; the wide armrests, angled seat and tall, curved backrest make it supremely comfortable. A footrest and wheel set are also available. Prices start at $3,500.

Closer to reality for many will be seating from their Must Jardin line-up, a younger, more affordable brand with well-designed, comfortable outdoor sofas under $2,000. Many come with tough-as-nails Sunbrella fabric. For more of what’s new at Home Société, go to www.aroundthehouse.ca.

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A few inexpensive but well-chosen accessories can instantly make a space seem more polished, including items from Bed Bath & Beyond’s affordable Everhome decor line.

Their Miami indoor/outdoor rug looks like natural sisal, but is made with textured synthetic yarn. Earthy neutrals hues are UV stabilized for fade resistance, and are stain- and soil- resistant. They’re hand-washable. Sizes vary; a seven by ten foot rug sells for about $260.

Umbrellas from Lowe’s come in sunny shades.
Umbrellas from Lowe’s come in sunny shades. Photo by Lowe’s photograph

There are also lots of handsome indoor outdoor pillows in crisp nautical blues and greens—in damask, stripe, mosaic, floral, and tie-print designs. Prices vary, but some were recently on sale online for as low as $19.

Every well-designed outdoor space includes some shade. Lowe’s cantilevered Style Selections umbrella provides about 100 square feet of it. The crank-operated 11-foot umbrella has replaceable solar LED bars for nighttime lighting, a resin base that holds 240 lbs of sand or water, and a canopy fabric that’s UV, fade, water, and mildew resistant. About $500, it’s one of a selection of reasonably-priced shade solutions Lowe’s carries.

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It’s humanly impossible to relax with mosquitos whirring around your head. (Would it cheer you to know there are mosquitoes in Crete? No? Me neither.) So wherever your outdoor escape is, it’s prudent to be prepared for bugs.

One option to try is an outdoor repeller, which I did after I was sent a Thermacell Radius Zone mosquito repellent to test. Compact and discretely-designed, it did—as promised—keep bugs away for about 15 feet. The active ingredient is Allethrin, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers. It worked really well while hanging out on the deck, but I also found it useful when I had to do an outdoor chore in a buggy corner.

About $70, the unit itself is rechargeable, and a repellent refill with 80 hours of protection will cost around $60. That’s far, far less than a night in a five-star resort in Crete, and surely a little luxury you deserve.

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