Around the house: Design dreams can come true for less than you think

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Have you ever dreamed of being really rich? Such was the case, most recently when I received an e-mail about a new luxury wellness center – a beautiful seaside sanctuary where tension and fatigue melt away like butter under the Mediterranean sun.

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For the record, the press release was about ACRO Suites in Crete. Resting on the peaceful pebbly bay of Mononaftis, the site has 49 suites and villas, all with views of the Aegean Sea. Some fit perfectly into the cliff side and are furnished with restful natural decorative elements; others are contemporary villas with private infinity pools that seem to spill into the serene blue sea.

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

They are made with sandstone 3D printing technology which means there may be variations between pieces. What they share is the washed, pebbly finish of the sun-bleached stone. Price and availability from Kettal via studio b.

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Home Company, home to several in-house design brands and partners under one roof in Toronto’s northwest corner, caters to a variety of budgets for outdoor and transitional spaces. For connoisseurs of excellent seating, there’s an Adirondack chair reimagined by French designer Pierre Stelmaszyk for the Belgian outdoor luxury company Royal Botany.

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

For many, the seating in their Must Jardin range will be closer to the real thing, a younger, more affordable brand offering well-designed and comfortable outdoor sofas under $2,000. Many come with nail-resistant Sunbrella fabric. To find out more about what’s new in Home Société, go to

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A few inexpensive but well-chosen accessories can instantly make a space more refined, including designer items. Bed bath and beyond affordable Everhome decor line.

Their Miami The indoor/outdoor rug looks like natural sisal, but is made with textured synthetic yarns. Earthy neutral hues are UV stabilized to resist fading and are smudge and smudge resistant. They are hand washable. Sizes vary; a seven-by-ten-foot rug sells for about $260.

Lowe's umbrellas come in sunny tones.
Lowe’s umbrellas come in sunny tones. Photo by Lowe’s Photography

There are also plenty of beautiful indoor and outdoor pillows in crisp nautical blues and greens – in damask, striped, mosaic, floral and tie-print designs. Prices vary, but some have recently gone on sale online for as little as $19.

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

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It is humanly impossible to relax with mosquitoes circling around your head. (Would it make you happy to know that there are mosquitoes in Crete? No? Me neither.) So wherever your outdoor getaway is, it’s wise to be prepared for bugs.

One option to try is outdoor repellent, which I did after getting a Thermacell radius area mosquito repellent to test. Compact and discreet in design, it kept the bugs away for about 15 feet as promised. The active ingredient is allethrin, a synthetic version of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers. It worked great when I was hanging out on the deck, but I also found it useful when I had to do an outdoor chore in a buggy corner.

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

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