With the summer sun starting to creep its way in, the desire for the ultimate outdoor space has never been so strong. Days are getting longer, nights are getting warmer and creating an alfresco area to relax and entertain in means you can enjoy it all from the comfort of your own home.
Setting up the ideal entertaining space that can act as your own private oasis too means more than just mowing the lawn though. There’s something characteristically Australian about merging indoors with the outdoor world and diverting attention to the open air – and it requires as much thought as furnishing the inside of your home. From the quiet family dinner evening to the social butterfly’s summer-vibe party, right through to that much needed recoup ‘me’ time – we have the best spring and summer renovation ideas for everyone.
1. Fire up the Grill with an Outdoor Kitchen
For the space to truly be an extension of your home, an outdoor kitchen is an essential. As the heart of your outdoor area, it can really transform the design to one that is convenient, comfortable and complete. The past 10 years have seen a huge explosion of outdoor kitchens that transform the backyard into a family gathering spot, the ideal party pad or a romantic escape.
These days, an outdoor kitchen means more than just a barbeque. Homeowners crave the same expediencies as they have inside – plus more. This flexibility and practicality is important, so think built-in-features that can redesigned easily if required, pizza ovens with an adjacent prep area, bars or modular outdoor kitchens with side burners, smokers and warming drawers.
To complete the space, ample seating and a designated dining area will create an intimate environment – just be sure you choose flexible furnishings so they can be moved around. Odds are you’ll be using the outdoor kitchen for a lot more than just the occasional barbeque, so be sure it includes the fundamental spaces: prep, cook, serve and clean.
2. Make a Splash
To complement the alfresco dining area, the luxury of having a pool in your own backyard is absolute bliss and something that we can make good use of in the beautiful Australian climate. The perfect addition to any hot summers’ day, a well-designed pool area creates an exquisite backdrop to backyard parties and encourages a sense of relaxation.
One of the most sought out backyard pieces is the pool, so it stands to reason that it usually becomes the centre piece for the space visually. To establish the perfect setting for all occasions and set the tone for an atmosphere that’s inviting and fun, ensure the garden space and pool area flow with a cohesive look. You’ll want the pool, house and deck area to look integrated in design so opt for colours and materials that coordinate everything together. In Australia, pool fencing is a requirement for safety considerations – but it doesn’t have to break up the visuals of the garden.
“Most homeowners prefer to stay away from traditional fencing when it comes to the pool space as it can block the view – especially when you want to keep an eye on your kids in the pool. Instead, glass fencing has become a popular option as it provides a sophisticated look without sacrificing strength or security and opens the outdoor entertaining area up,” suggests Fencemakers Director Ricky Hee.
3. Create a Destination Deck
To help define the pool and entertaining space, create a destination deck that carves out multiple spaces for different activities or zones. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to spend more time relaxing on the deck than actually swimming thus, it’s important you choose materials that are safe and appealing. Timber is the most common choice and gives a warm, natural look that’s still long-lasting and reliable. For a budget-friendly option it can be constructed relatively easy for a part-DIY project – just buy the timber and plans from a decking company and put it together yourself.
WA Timber Decking Director, Paul Oorschot emphasises the benefits of engaging deck designs. “The creation of a separate deck away from the main alfresco is a great way of relocating guests away from the sit down/cooking area. It doesn’t have to be big, but a well-constructed deck will be a magnet for people; especially on those balmy summer nights”. “Most people tend to over fill the alfresco area with too many items so by defining these separate spaces, the backyard will feel much more open and inviting”, he recommends.
4. Establish Shady Spots
Whilst a good dose of the summer sun is great, it can get too much living in Australia – yes, even for the sun enthusiast! This country is renowned for its extreme heat so it’s vital you keep the outdoor space cool, comfortable and safe for you and your guests.
To make the deck and courtyard area more enjoyable, colourful umbrellas can be erected or a built-in gable patio is ideal for a long term solution. “Design flexibility is imperative for homeowners, especially when it comes to renovations. Both attached and detached patios can help to achieve a spacious entertaining space suitable for all year-round, recommends Marcus Fulker, Managing Director of Great Aussie Patios.
For outside the patio space, offer some relief from the sun through mature trees. Swimming pool shades can be used over the pool area to create a sheltered oasis. Stewart Graham, Director at Sola Shade says pool shades and outdoor umbrellas are flexible solutions to protect you from the Australian sun. “Protecting yourself from the harsh weather is essential for outdoor living and umbrellas offer a convenient and moveable option. By adding this much needed shade over the pool, you’re also adding colour and drama into the space for the ultimate look”. For a step further, consider outdoor awnings to help keep cool. This article provides some great information on what to consider.
5. Add a Little Taste of Luxury
Turning your outdoor living space into a private retreat requires a little taste of luxury. You don’t have to spend a fortune though – luxury can come in all shapes, sizes and price. It’s all about creating thinking. Director/Co-Founder of Riverstone Builder, Paul Marshall agrees that blurring the line between indoor and outdoor living is a popular luxurious trend. “By merging these two worlds together and making your outdoor area an extension of your home, you create a space filled with more opportunities, ideal for luxurious living and entertaining. Find your own slice of heaven and work to incorporate it”.
Think indoor/outdoor Jacuzzis, a private island retreat complete with draping curtains or a modern fire-pit table for the cooler nights. Incorporate a mix of materials like brick, stone, metal and wood to create a sense of warmth and quality. “This can make a really striking combination and creates a link between the modern world and natural elements”, agrees Marshall.
Regardless of how you revamp your outdoor area, above anything it’s important to blend the colours and styles from the inside of your home out. Even the smallest touches of this can go a long way. “Complement your interior design with the outdoor living space”, Marshall says. “By maintaining the architectural theme inside and out, both spaces will merge effectively and be consistent with each other”.