An urban backyard getaway + smart security for the Garage with Schlage Encode

Jim and Tonya added vibrant art and colour to the garage. Door painted Electron Blue AE-44 Semi-gloss enamel by Behr. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

After Jim and Tonya Norton (my brother and sister-in-law) finished renovating their Toronto home they embarked on a large scale backyard transformation that also included tearing down an old garage to build something that would fit with the modern aesthetic of their home.

"Our backyard is our escape from the city," says Jim and Tonya who live in Toronto's leafy Christie Pits neighbourhood. "It’s quiet, comfy and secluded, in an area where space can be a real premium. The garage is an extension of our backyard. It’s functional for vehicle storage, but also for winter storage of outdoor furniture etc."

The couple hired Earth Inc. to transform their backyard which includes multiple levels and construction of a new garage.  Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Artist Monica Wickeler ( @monicaonthemoon on Instagram) was commissioned to paint the garage door and now it's the perfect backdrop for this urban space. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Although Jim and Tonya enjoy gardening, with their two dogs running around (including Falki shown here and Jiggs) grass can take a beating, so they chose to go with a synthetic lawn. Now all they have to do is hose it down and give it a rake to keep it looking sharp.

The backyard is ideal for entertaining and the garage is a great multi-purpose space. Not only a practical utility space - housing garden tools and a maintenance panel for the irrigation system, but also additional indoor/outdoor entertaining space to set up a bar or food area when having friends over.

"It ended up being a great covered indoor space for food/bar, since we have a garage door opening up into the backyard space - which really worked out when we hosted a backyard concert a few years ago."

The couple came up with the idea of installing a smart lock on the garage door so that they could have easy, key-less access to the garage.

"Obviously for security we keep the door locked, but it's nice to not always have to carry the keys around," says Jim, a Toronto based photographer and director.

So, they installed Schlage's Encode - a smart, WiFi deadbolt with Century trim and the Latitude lever in matte black finish  - and they say that the clean, minimalist style is a perfect fit and was easy to install.  "It only took about 30 minutes. It would have been even less time to install but I had to drill the existing hole which was a little bit tight, but other than that the only other tool I needed was a screwdriver."

Installing the Encode lock has made access simpler and more secure. "We don't need to carry a key for access anymore, and the beefed up deadbolt definitely makes it more secure," says Norton.  "If I've mindlessly left the garage unlocked (which I did a lot before) then the app tells me it's still unlocked. So, I can either lock it remotely or if the door has been left open, I know I should go close it  - so the raccoons don't move in. Another nice feature is that I can remotely unlock the door if required ... like if a neighbour needs to borrow something and if the door gets unlocked, I know.. it's nice to have that added level of security."

Here's how to install the Schlage Encode...

Step 1: Remove old lever and lock. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Step 2: Install the bolt and strike reinforcement plate. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Step 3: Install Encode deadbolt touchscreen, backplate and follow directions to connect the cable. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

That's pretty much it. Schlage Canada has easy-to-follow instructions online. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Now that the lock is installed Jim and Tonya can use an app on their phones to lock and unlock the door from anywhere and add user codes for anyone who might need access to the garage. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Inspired by Jim and Tonya's backyard, I've created a moodboard with ideas about how to create a backyard getaway to enjoy all summer and well into autumn - because let's face it, we'll be living and entertaining alfresco for as long as we can.

Kawartha Umbrella via Hauser / Quadra Privacy Screen via Hauser / Schlage Encode Smart WiFi deadbolt and Schlage Custom Latitude lever with Century Trim in Matte Black via Schlage Canada / Faux plant via Homesense Canada / Permasteel Patio Cooler via Home Depot Canada / Rattan lantern via Homesense Canada / Ooni Karu Pizza Oven via Spruce Toronto / Gloster Dansk End Table via Hauser / Professor's Negroni via Dillon's / Acrylic glass via West Elm / Glucksteinhome Fringed Turkish Hammam Towel via Hudson's BayTosca Chaise Lounge via InsideOut Patio Furniture / Zanzibar Outdoor Pillow via Tonic Living

  • Make eating alfresco fun and easy with a pizza oven and a cooler filled with your favourite bevvies. I can attest to the delicious pizza that comes out of this oven by Ooni. It's on my wishlist!
  • Have throw blankets at hand for when evenings get cooler. 
  • If privacy is an issue, think about adding a privacy screen. I like how these ones from Hauser can be moved around.
  • String patio lights and set out lanterns to add light and instant ambiance once the sun sets.
  • Comfy, easy care seating means you won't have to store bulky cushions - just add a few outdoor throw pillows to soften things up.
  • Smart locks aren't just for the front door - the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi deadbolt makes sense on a garage or shed door, and means no more keys!

Disclosure: I've partnered with Schlage Canada in this sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own or that of the featured homeowners.

Photos courtesy of Jim Norton Photography

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