It’s that time of year. The weather is warmer, the beer is colder and friends are aplenty. There is nothing better than having friends around on a weekend to share a drink, watch the cricket, to have a dip in the pool or just to catch up. But what do you do when your house just isn’t big enough or when you would rather be sitting outside in the cooling breeze rather than locked up inside the living room. That’s when you need to start thinking about making more use of your outdoor areas.
Too many households don’t take advantage of that piece of land behind their house, but with a little work and thought you can increase the usable space for your house without breaking the budget with a large extension.
Here are my seven tips for how to get the most of your outdoor space so you can happily entertain outdoor as easily as indoor.
Connect the spaces. If you are building a deck or terrace to create your outdoor space, look at using materials that are the same as or at least similar to the materials inside the house so that there is continuity. If you have timber floors inside, then continue with timber outside on the deck. You may consider continuing a wall from inside the house to outside. If you can create that connection then it is more likely that you will use both spaces together.
2 OPEN UP
Open up the connection between inside and outside. Most houses have a back door and a couple of small windows in the wall that separates inside and outside. This is the biggest problem. As long as the wall remains, you will be disinclined to try to entertain inside and outside at the same time. Consider opening up the wall with large sliding, hinged or retractable doors. Add some full height windows to the new doorway. You will bring alot more natural light into your house, which will also reduce the need to turn lights on during the day and you will bring more natural ventilation into the house. Sydney’s climate is pretty comfortable for most days of the year, yes there are some days that are extreme, but generally there is no need to turn the air conditioner on if we can achieve cross ventilation.
Once you have opened up the wall with the large glazed opening you can now see from inside to outside, you can move from inside to outside easily and now you have the opportunity to create one ‘large’ living space rather than two disconnected spaces.
3 IS IT LEVEL?
This will sound like an obvious thing to do, but it is often overlooked. Make sure that your outdoor entertaining area is flat and level. There is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting in chair which is unbalanced or having a table with a wobble. It annoys everyone!
4 WHO’S DOWN THERE?
There are a lot of areas where the housing is located on sloping sites. It can be difficult to create usable outdoor areas when the house may be a whole floor level above the rear yard. Our approach is to create a terracing of the decks, stepping down the site, each with their own identity. This gives you a number of interconnected spaces from the house to the back of the property and your guests won’t have to choose ‘do I want to be down there or up here’.
5 EXTENSION OF THE MIND
This tip will make your home feel bigger. Use elements like a water feature or distinctive planting at the back of your entertaining area. This will draw your eye all the way through your house from inside to outside, making your usable space feel much larger.
6 COMFORT = USE
Make the space more comfortable. Connect the stereo system to your outdoor entertaining space so you can have your favourite tunes wafting through the conversation. You can even look at installing a television in a weather protected area so that no one misses a minute of the test match or grand final. By bringing our internal entertainment elements outside, it enhances the experience outside and extends your entertaining area.
Consider giving the outdoor space a particular purpose that suits your family. It may be an eating area, a sitting area or a recreational space for the kids. Keep flexibility in mind so you are able to alter the layout for a party, but make the space work for your lifestyle. If the space suits your lifestyle, then you will use the space on a regular basis.