Australians love entertaining in their backyards and most Aussie parties begin outside. So it makes sense that your backyard needs to live up to its purpose – entertaining! In this post, we’ll take a look at some simple, versatile, and beautiful ways of taking your backyard to a whole new level while making the most of our fantastic Australian climate.
Regardless of the size of your backyard, there’s a lot you can do to add personality and functionality to your outdoor living space. While it’s true that Aussies are completely happy with fold-up tables and camp chairs, they also love gorgeous, aesthetically-pleasing entertainment areas, where family and friends can come together for relaxation, great outdoor dining, and good conversation. With the right planning, your home can become the ideal setting for lazy morning family brunches, afternoon barbecues, and year-round get-togethers.
The key to creating the perfect Aussie outdoor entertainment area is to combine beauty with simplicity.
It’s All In The Planning
Dedicate time to planning your outdoor area, just as you would an indoor area.
- What will you be using this area for? Will it be for large or small groups, or both? This will determine the table size and number of chairs required.
- Will you be cooking outdoors because this will involve a barbecue or outdoor kitchen.
- A focal point, like the dining area, water feature, or special garden, will draw guests into your backyard from inside.
- Allow for easy access, the flow with your home, and weather restrictions.
- Create a budget, and stick to it!
Establish Mood With Lighting
When it comes to evening/night-time entertaining, the right lighting is essential – and great lighting is the perfect way to create some atmosphere. We love solar lights; they’re non-obtrusive and cost-effective, and they light a space perfectly when placed alongside plants and below feature trees. For an undercover patio area we suggest indoor-style permanent fittings, adding a formal touch. However, choose wall-mounted light styles if the area concerned doesn’t have any ceiling space. If the plan is to hang string fairy lights or other decorative-style lights, don’t forget to factor this into your planning process to ensure adequate power point sockets around the garden. Another great lighting feature is candle lanterns; they add both light and character.
If space is abundant, consider the landscape design of your outdoor entertainment area. Some suggestions include –
- Use real or fake lawn to provide greenery in your outdoor space,
- Add plants around the garden’s borders to make it look alive and healthy all year round,
- Use low-maintenance native trees and plants that will thrive in the hot weather,
- Create a rock garden with easy-to-manage succulents – the solidness of stone and softness of foliage makes a great combination.
Consider how the sun will hit your outdoor entertainment area during Australia’s long, hot, summer months. Shade is vitally important in Australia as the temperatures can get very high, and stay high for several days. Providing cover will reduce the heat and glare, making being outdoors much more comfortable. One shade possibility is café blinds, and these can be adjusted to the seasons. Also, if your patio area is going to be a meals area, you must ensure there’s sufficient space for a table and chairs to fit comfortably.
The Outdoor Kitchen
Your outdoor kitchen will almost certainly become the centre of your outdoor entertainment area, which is ideal because it means the host becomes part of the group, unlike an indoor kitchen where the host typically spends most of their time working alone. A working outdoor kitchen is a terrific addition to any outdoor area; consider installing an island bench if you have the space – it will come in handy for socialising and food preparation. Increase the potential of your outdoor entertainment area by adding a sink and bar to your barbecue area. Consider adding unique party pleasers to your outdoor kitchen, like a wood-fired pizza oven, a margarita machine, or an ice maker to ensure icy-cold drinks. There are even complete outdoor kitchen units available where everything you need is contained within the one unit.
The Right Decking
One of the more common renovations, especially when planning an outdoor entertainment area, is to add decking to a home. Not only does it look fantastic, but your new outdoor area will create a lot of foot traffic so we suggest doing your research and choosing the right decking for your space. Advancements in materials available means that indoor and outdoor spaces can work together, creating a low-maintenance option and giving the home a more contemporary feel. The right decking will be a great investment because it will save a lot of money and time on repairs and updates further down the track. There’s no doubt that timber decking is a contemporary and smart outdoor flooring choice, making it the ideal base on which to create a stunning outdoor entertainment area.
Your ability to entertain outdoors will be largely decided by your outdoor furniture. Don’t be limited by using portable furnishings; we suggest creating long-lasting versatility by building in seats or benches to existing walls. Arrange seating to promote socialising, and we suggest setting up several areas so guests feel free to spread out. Your seating should be arranged so that everyone can be seen and heard. If you have a deck that’s raised above your garden, the edge could be the right height to sit on, with feet resting on the lawn. Don’t forget to add a pop of colour to this space by adding colourful rugs or cushions.
If you have the space, consider incorporating various seating options. Think of chaise lounges with a cantilever umbrella for catching some sun, or dining tables shaded by umbrellas for casual weekend brunches.
Now that we’re all aware of social distancing, you may want to consider spacing out a range of seating groups for family members and guests. This would allow for social distancing and also give options for comfort. For example, a hammock or porch swing in one section of the deck or patio could be offset by a conversational setting in another section.
Part of the goal of your new outdoor entertainment area is to create a space that people (including you) enjoy spending time in. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this, and to boost the tranquillity factor, is with easy-to-grow foliage. Do this by working with your conditions, meaning, if your space receives very little or no sunlight, ensure you choose plants that love the shade. It’s much easier to work with plants that suit your environment than trying to fight nature.
Start simple with your styling. Don’t over-clutter this area – it will end up looking messy and chaotic. Group your potted plants, and remember that an easy way to fuse indoor and outdoor spaces is to feature pots in the same colour scheme. Your home will feel larger overall and your guests will find the outdoor area very inviting.
If you don’t have a green thumb, stick with native plants and you should be safe. If your backyard is very small, a vertical garden along your fences will look fantastic.
Create a Privacy Wall
Many homeowners are concerned about privacy, so we suggest building a fence or creating a privacy wall along the edges of your entertainment area. There are many fencing options available today; for example, a metal privacy screen can be installed with numerous punched cut-outs to suit the décor of your outdoor entertainment area. In addition, a privacy wall will allow you to make the most of your small space. A tall privacy wall can be installed to create separations, thus establishing intimate areas for guests and family members to escape for some peace and quiet.
Add a Water Feature
Water features are always popular, and include –
- Wall fountains
- Cascades and waterfalls
- Water gardens and ponds
- Stand-alone fountains.
A water feature is ideal for white noise; it creates a relaxing environment and drowns out background noise. Most people love the sound of trickling water from a waterfall, and a pond holding aquatic life would be the ultimate addition to an outdoor entertainment area.
Backyard Fire Pit
Once we move into the cooler months of the year we’re inclined to spend less time in our outdoor entertainment areas, simply because the days and/or evenings are too cold. This can easily be remedied by installing a fire pit for staying warm and even cooking your evening meal. Now you can use your outdoor area right throughout the year. Just ensure your seating arrangement encourages socialising, and allow guests to spread out by setting up several seating areas.
You can’t entertain guests without music! Music sets the mood and provides the perfect atmosphere for outdoor entertaining. Add some outdoor speakers so you can stream your favourite playlists.
Hide the Bad Bits
Our final suggestion is to hide the unsightly things backyards have in common, like the backyard shed.
- Use the shed to create a green oasis by growing climbing and creeping plants, or even better, vertical gardens constructed from wooden pallets.
- Hang mirrors to create the illusion of space.
- Revive a worn out fence with a fresh coat of paint. Alternatively, why not paint the shed and fence the same colour! Use soft, light colours to make your yard look bright and fresh.
- Use a screen or fence to hide garbage bins, an air-con unit, or an unsightly water heater.
- Use the same timber as your decking, then add greenery to beautify the space.
Most Australians live for the great outdoors, partly because many of us were raised in homes with big backyards where barbecues and sports were common activities. Today, the size of blocks has reduced dramatically, so we need more creativity to maximise the usable space in our backyards. We’re now seeing homeowners revitalising and adding value to their homes with stylish outdoor entertainment areas. Whether it be a covered patio or a pergola, there are many ways of creating an outdoor area for entertaining and relaxation. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
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