creating the perfect outdoor room

18.8.15

Summer is the perfect time for making the most of the great outdoors. Longer days, warm weather and, of course, summer holidays make it almost mandatory to spend plenty of time outside.

And with my impending move north I am more excited than ever to create the perfect outdoor living space.



The good news is there’s no need to leave home to enjoy the best Mother Nature has to offer as your backyard can be the perfect summer playground for entertaining family and friends, watching the kids enjoy the holidays or simply kicking back with a good book and a refreshing summer cocktail.

The “backyard room” is becoming an increasingly important part of Aussie homes.

As the weather warms up our living and dining moves outside and, as a result, designs and landscaping have become more and more sophisticated with many spaces now integrating features such as fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and edible gardens.

“The outdoor room is the most versatile room in the house,” says landscaper Jason Hodges. “Not only can an outdoor room increase the value of your home, but the health benefits of spending time outdoors are undeniable. The backyard is quickly taking over as the favourite gathering space for cooking, entertaining, relaxing and spending time with loved ones.”

With Spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your outdoor space in order and ready for the family to enjoy during the warmer months.



“The beauty of the outdoor family room is that it can be anything you want it to be; you are only limited by your imagination,” says Jason. “Whatever size outdoor space you have, there are countless ways to create an exceptional room to entertain, relax and spend time with family.”

Furniture


Paramount to any outdoor living space is the right furniture. However deciding what function you want your outdoor area to have is necessary before any purchase.

Jumping in and buying that 12-seater dining setting is no good is you prefer lounging around the pool and only have a big family gathering once or twice per year.

“Having the right outdoor furniture makes dining outdoors simple, easy and stylish,” says Amanda Grant from Ikea. “Dining furniture is great for lunches and dinners, while low seating is wonderful for cocktails and tapas.”

If kicking back in the sun is more your style, lounges and deep seaters should be on your shopping list.



“Choose pieces that encourage togetherness,” says Guy March from Cosh Living. “An outdoor family room with seating facing each other will create an environment for conversation and interactivity to thrive.”

If you have a smaller space that needs to serve several functions, consider furniture that can serve more than one purpose such as a timber storage bench that would work as seating or a low table. Fold-up chairs are another popular option if you don’t need permanent seating outside.

“Items that are multifunctional, flexible and can be easily moved around to create an alternative setting are very popular with families,” says Guy.

Materials


“Just as a home has walls, ceilings and a floor, an outdoor room should be protected from the elements,” says Boral’s David Bird.

“This means constructing walls and a roof to shield against the wind and rain in winter, and being mindful of shade sources for summer months.”

Some of the more popular options for constructing outdoor spaces are paving (for flooring), stone and timber.

Jason, who is an ambassador for paving company Adbri Masonry, says pavers can set the theme for the whole space, determining the look, feel, colour palette of your outdoor room.

“Pavers can create a big impact in a small area,” he says. “Coloured concrete pavers, for example, can completely transform the look and feel of any space.”



If you have a timber deck, consider creating a unified look by using timber in other parts of your outdoor space.

“Timber can also be used for screening to create separate spaces or for added privacy,” says Clinton Skeoch from Boral’s timber division. "Timber screening allows the light through to maintain the connection to natural surroundings.”

Stone is another good option and complements the natural environment.

“Boral’s range of cultured stone is available in a variety of shapes, colours and textures and looks great teamed with brick, timber and glass,” says David.

Fire up

Once the basics of your outdoor space are all sorted, it’s time to add some character with features such as fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and integrated audio systems.

A fireplace will add warmth and ambience to the outdoor room as well as creating a focal point thanks to its large-scale presence.

“Not only will a feature fireplace make a huge statement in the outdoor family room, it also ensures you can make the most of the space by using it all year round,” says Jason.

“If you’re on a budget, try Adbri’s miniwall blocks for a fire pit project. They don’t use any glue and are concrete, making them great for enclosing fire pits.”

Hot options

Outdoor kitchens are also gaining popularity, thanks in part to television renovating shows.



If space is an issue, many manufacturers offer outdoor kitchens in modular units so you can customise inclusions to suit your space.

Look for units made with high quality materials such as granite, porcelain-coated steel, stainless steel and chrome, to withstand frequent use and outdoor temperatures.

Wired for sound

If you love music, integrated speakers are another must for your outdoor space.

There are lots of products on the market now that will wirelessly connect outdoor speakers with your computer, tablet, phone or iPod streaming music or the radio direct from your device so you can listen to the cricket in full stereo from the pool deck.

For real music lovers, TruAudio’s SubTerrain Subwoofer is a unit installed into the ground with a small mushroom-shaped tube and speaker that is left exposed so audio is dispersed throughout the garden. The system is available in Australia through Advance Audio and is priced from $1995.


First published Home, The Daily Telegraph, 9 October 2014

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