A purpose-built outdoor living area is one of the most requested additions in domestic architecture.
Extending the home into the garden or enclosing a balcony is particularly well-suited to our relaxed Aussie lifestyle.
In the past it was as simple as throwing a couple of weathered chairs and a token pot plant out on the patio.
These days it’s about keeping cool and looking stylish with all the comforts of being indoors.
Before jumping into a renovation or redesign, decide exactly what you want from your outdoor oasis.
It might be a lively entertaining area, an extension of the kitchen, a dedicated quiet zone or a kids’ space.
Interior stylist Tina Hutton says people can easily make mistakes in the planning, then wonder why the result never feels quite right.
“It’s really important to be clear about how the area is going to be used,” says Tina.
“Thinking a space can be all things is usually a bad idea.
“That’s not to say it can’t be zoned to suit different purposes, but that in itself has to be a decision rather than an accident.”
Create your own style
“There’s a bit of a design myth about continuing the style of the home outdoors. Instead of matching, look to complement but be creative,” says Tina.
“An outdoor room is a wonderful opportunity to bring in elements you wouldn’t use inside, like concrete, stone, wicker, even modern plastics.”
Tina says stick with what you know, as experimenting with looks dramatically different to your usual style may bring results you won’t like.
“Slavishly following trends can also catch you out down the track, so learn how to incorporate them instead.
“Cushions are the easiest way to bring in a new design trend. Pick up the accent colour in accessories and you’ll have a space that looks cohesive and sophisticated.”
Keep the outdoor room cool
No matter how wonderful your new outdoor area looks, nobody enjoys sweltering in the summer heat.
Capitalise on cooling breezes without creating a wind tunnel by installing screening and fans suitable for outdoor use.
Transparent pool fencing can be used to enclose a balcony or verandah and bamboo panels provide an economical and attractive privacy screen.
“This is one area I like to bring in a feature usually found indoors,” says Tina.
“Curtains are great and a few sheer muslin panels add instant sophistication as well as cutting direct sunlight and reducing glare.
“But you need to rig up a system on which they can be easily hung and taken down as they can’t stay outdoors.”