Once upon a time, the outdoor entertaining area consisted of little more than a few rusty garden chairs scattered around a sad looking plastic table. However, nowadays smart outdoor areas are a major selling point for homes.
Now that we’re in the thick of summer, if there’s one part of your property you should be focussing all your love and attention on, it’s your backyard.
"A fab outdoor entertaining area is a must-have particularly heading into the summer months," says renovating expert Bonnie Hindmarsh – one third of popular renovation team Three Birds along with Erin Cayless and Lana Taylor. "It is constantly on the wish-list for my clients."
Here Bonnie, gives her tips for turning your outdoor area from woeful to wonderful this summer.
How can you entice people outside into your backyard?
"The easiest way is by creating a really inviting space to hang out in. Adding openings which connect the outdoors to the indoors also helps create a flow between the two spaces. For our recent renovation project The Beach Shack, we did this by adding inexpensive French doors which connect the lounge room to the deck. Using soft furnishings outdoors also encourages people to come outside and relax. And a fan is also a great idea if the temperature is hot."
What are the best ways to create shade if there is none?
"An umbrella is the easiest way to create a bit of shade – however make sure you choose a stylish one. There are so many now to choose from that it’s worth it to buy one that complements the surrounds rather than just the cheapest option. We’ve also installed fixed awnings in the past which look great and provide retractable shading. And in a pool area, a pergola with bamboo roof provides the perfect pool-side setting with filtered sunlight."
What do you need so they feel comfy and happy to linger?
"Offering a variety of areas is always a good idea. At The Beach Shack we created two separate spaces on our alfresco deck. The first area was the “chillin' space” which has a beautiful lounge and arm chairs which are perfect to relax on. And then on the other side of the deck we added a couple of chairs and a side table so you can sit and have a drink."
What percentage of your outdoor space should be green planting?
"We don’t work on a percentage to be honest. Every space is different and we are guided by what is going to look best. So if there is an ugly fence to hide, green plantings are a must. If there is a tall deck with nothing in front of it, we use green plantings to add interest and colour. Hedges are also a great way to provide privacy from the neighbours."
What hard surfaces would you recommend?
"We’ve used lots of different materials in our past renovations such as timber and concrete. In many of our other properties we’ve opted for a HardieDeck which is more durable. If you already have an old concrete porch or pathway, we recommend you bring it back to life using paving paint."
What furniture would you recommend for entertaining?
"When entertaining outside it’s always great to have a lounge space for people to chill out in and also a dining space if you have the room. We also love to create an indoor/outdoor servery with gas-strut window. With four bar stools on either side, you can comfortably seat eight people for a unique alfresco experience."
How should you light the space?
"How you light your space depends on what you have to work with as a base. If you’re going for a nautical look outdoor wall sconces in a complimentary theme are a good option. Downlights can also be great in an undercover outdoor area, and spotlights to shine on the backyard make it much more inviting after the sun goes down."
What styling touches do you think make all the difference?
"We love to style our outdoor spaces taking inspiration from inside. We use rugs and cushions to soften the space and make it more inviting. Add some side tables, a magazine or two, a throw and perhaps a bit of greenery and people will never want to leave!"
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