Deck guru uses creativity to transform back yards

Infusing creativity into backyards makes Paul Lafrance smile.

Infusing creativity into backyards makes Paul Lafrance smile.

The international deck guru, who has shown off his talent on reality TV, inspired people at the Red Deer Home Show on Saturday.

He said creative elements that speak to individuals can transform a backyard in an oasis and “allows you to be able to kind of breathe in and out for the first time in a week, month, year.”

“It has a potential to be a vacation spot that is really necessary nowadays, a place of respite most people can’t get to anymore because the speed of life and culture makes it very difficult for people to get away and be able to recuperate,” said Lafrance, CEO and founder of Paul Lafrance Design.

He’s not one to follow trends that can pigeon hole people into doing something that’s cool one year and out the next.

A deck doesn’t have to be big or costly to make an impact in people’s lives. But there have to be elements that they can’t resist, he said.

“There’s got to be components of the design that are intentional focal points that you can see inside the house in order to draw you out. Otherwise your blinking computer screen, demanding you answer a bunch of e-mails, is going to win,” said Lafrance who has been the host of HGTV’s Decked Out, Disaster Decks, Deck Wars and one of the judges on Canada’s Handyman Challenge.

Lafrance said when he started in the business 17 years ago, he knew people would eventually begin to look at their backyards in a new way. And now they need it more than ever.

“It’s like a log in the fire, you throw it in there, it’s going to smolder, it’s going to smoke, but once it catches, once people get it, then they’re really going to understand the value of it,” Lafrance said.

John Christie, Red Deer Home Show Committee chairperson, said Central Albertans are fired up about their backyards, especially after a long winter.

“People want to get out in the backyards and enjoy,” Christie said.

“People have an idea of what they want in their backyard. I think there are a lot of opportunities out there to make it your own.”

Smaller urban lots are also making people think carefully about how to put their backyard space to use, he said.

Visitors to the 2014 home show had 270 exhibitors to check out.

Christie expected attendance to be higher than last year with more than 10,000 people coming out to the Westerner, thanks in part to the spring-like weather.

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