Expert hacks for creating the perfect outdoor living area

That’s ready to weather all seasons.
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If 2020 gave us nothing else, it blessed us with a new appreciation for our inner sanctums. Lockdown forced us to create work spaces in formerly unused nooks and crannies, and find neutral zones for relaxation and recreation.

In addition, it saw us turn to home entertaining, rediscovering family mealtimes, as well as the lost art of dinner parties with friends (in our bubble, of course). But if you think you’ve explored every avenue when it comes to maximising space within your homes, think again.

No matter the size of your outside area, you can create an outdoor room perfect for cooking, dining, entertaining or simply relaxing. Richard Unsworth, founder of landscape design and garden retail company Garden Life in Sydney (gardenlife.com.au) offers his top tips to consider when extending your home into the alfresco areas.

Fake it till you make it

Grass won’t grow close to the house or in shady spots with low light? Don’t let that deter you from creating a green living space. “Consider using fake grass to give a softer feel underfoot than paving,” advises Richard. “The bonus is there is minimal maintenance required with no watering or mowing!”

Contrast textures

To make an undercover outdoor area such as a patio or balcony feel cosy, it’s important to choose your furniture and accessories wisely. “Timber is a good choice if you’re putting furniture on stone or tiled surfaces,” Richard says. “And if you have a timber deck, consider using steel or a material of different texture than wood – you need to work the contrast of materials.”

A movable feast

Creating an outdoor kitchen doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take over the entire space. “You don’t have to build a huge barbecue,” Richard says. “Small ones are not only less obtrusive, but they won’t visually dominate your space – meaning you have more room for plants and decorative elements. This has the added bonus of softening stark walls and fences.”

Windows for your soul

Want to re-create the effect that windows have on your interior space? “Use old mirrors, decorative screens or iron work,” Richard suggests. “Climbers can be used to grow around and further soften them.”

Create a feature wall

Give your concrete or brick wall a colourful makeover to lift the mood of your outdoor room and make it feel more expansive. “Consider using tiles on the walls as a way to create a strong visual for your vertical space,” Richard suggests. “These striking, handmade Moroccan tiles are laid in a herringbone pattern and set the scene for the whole courtyard.”

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