Aussies have many reasons to love the alfresco life, not least of which are our country’s sunny weather, breathtaking natural landscapes and the sheer sense of potential carried on a warm summer breeze.
However, the COVID-19 lockdown changed the way we interact with outdoor spaces and the people who share them with us, and we’re now focusing more than ever on evolving our homes and backyards for better “at home” living.
Alfresco dining and living areas, outdoor bathrooms, and meditation nooks aren’t just a “here today, gone tomorrow” trend. Australia’s climate and culture are both well suited to “living” outdoors, and this has become an automatic extension and integral part of architecture in the modern-day home according to Dean Herald, managing director and principal designer at Rolling Stone Landscapes.
Dean notes that the social impact of the recent pandemic has made backyard upgrades even more popular: “There’s an understanding that your property and your backyard is probably one of the last remaining places you have full control over. You can invite whoever you want whenever you want.”
Entertaining at home is also more affordable for growing families and has added practical benefits. “When the kids get bored, they can entertain themselves outside or inside, and adults can continue to have a nice quality conversation — that’s a very attractive environment,” Dean says.
Feeling ready to jump into your own outdoor room project? Start by keeping these important planning details in mind.
MAKING A WISH LIST
Maybe you know exactly what you want or you’ve just looked at your backyard and decided it needs a little “something”. In both scenarios (but especially the latter), it pays to brainstorm with your partner and/or family — how, by whom and for what this outdoor room will be used. What’s the core need: a breakaway space for a growing teen and their friends, or a meditation sanctuary for one? Explore your outdoor space to find a hidden nook perfect for a little “art studio” shed or consider how existing trees and shrubbery might work well as natural privacy screening. What can be re-used or repurposed, and what needs to be created from scratch?
Jordan Taylor, director of Granite Works, recommends putting together a simple list of features you’d like, and then breaking that list down into must-have, should-have and couldhave elements, depending on your budget and available space. “There’s a balance between having an outdoor room and a room that’s outside,” he explains. “In many cases, less is more. Do you need walls, or would a screen of plants work just as well? Would a barbecue and small drinks fridge work better than a full outdoor kitchen? Consider your house and find the aesthetic you want for your outdoor space. It could be natural, modern, traditional, or anything in between: but continually refer back to this aesthetic when making your decisions.”
Taking the time to consider how different outdoor and indoor areas and landscapes connect is worthwhile if you want to create flow. Paul Uhlmann, director of Paul Uhlmann Architects, suggests questioning how you can create an external space that’s a room, rather than a leftover deck or terrace. “Ask yourself what makes the space feel inviting and engaging to be in, or what might make it feel more inviting or engaging?”
Selecting one or two colours that feature inside your home and repeating them in the outdoor spaces can also be a great way to transition between indoor and outdoor rooms, Jordan says. “Wide, open doors or windows may support in creating flow and harmony, while the use of potted plants inside can help to further blend internal and external spaces.”
A QUESTION OF SCALE
The scale of things isn’t always considered as much, Dean says, but when you get it wrong, it becomes extremely relevant. And this is true for too big or too small.
The “3 clients” approach
Dean Herald uses a tried-and-tested approach when coming to grips with a new design project. It’s a useful guide to consider when planning your own dream outdoor space. “I’ve always said that I work for three clients,” he explains …
Physical client: “This is the actual client and their wish list — they want an alfresco dining area, they want a pool, they’ve given me their big-ticket wish list.”
The architecture: “Whether it’s a full-on contemporary glass box or a heritage home with ornate timber or sandstone work, the architecture will influence the design, so the architecture of any home has a voice as a client, really.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
This garden design took the challenge of a sloping site and transformed it into a tropical, green oasis
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Edible plants tend to be thirsty, but it is possible to grow healthy, flavoursome veggies without over-taxing your water supply
Roots of orange
One of the most popular and health-giving of veggies, carrots are a must for the garden and the plate
Heart of stone
What’s more beautiful than a material formed over thousands of years by nature?
GET A ROOM!
Since living, working and entertaining at home is becoming the norm, exploring the creation of outdoor “rooms” in our backyards provides plenty of scope for imagination
A combination of formal, fun, and cottage, this delightful garden in Brisbane mixes it up with magnificent results
That’s just one of the many names for the large, luxurious berry we know and love as avocado
TWICE AS NICE
This home boasts dual entertaining spaces that work in accord with the interior living rooms
WHICH PLANTS, WHERE?
Australians are fortunate to be able to buy some of the best indoor plants in the world, with enthusiastic and clever plant breeders and nurseries making a fantastic and interesting variety of plants available to excited indoor plant lovers
Designed by Garden Life and builtby Good Wood, this inner-city courtyard required big thinking-design to fit into a small space
TORI IS KHLOE'S KLONE!
TORI SPELLING blew a bundle to transform herself into a Khloé Kardashian look-alike, according to sources who claimed it’s a bid to zing hubby Dean McDermott!
Guys of Miami
Tori & Dean IS IT OVER?
TORI SPELLING AND DEAN MCDERMOTT SPARK SPLIT RUMORS AFTER STEPPING OUT WITHOUT THEIR WEDDING RINGS — AGAIN
Deanna Belos is the punk rock version of Benjamin Button.
From an isolated cabin in a boggy Swedish forest, Will Dean conjures a fascinating series and now an intense standalone full of claustrophobia and creepiness.
TORI TOO POOR TO DUMP DEAN!
HARD-UP Tori Spelling’s marriage to Dean McDermott seems to be hanging by a thread — but an insider says she’s too broke to pull the plug!
What's New in review
Papo of France creates highly detailed prehistoric animal figures (if not always the most scientifically accurate.)
TORI SPELLS OUT FOR DEAN: NO BABY, NO ALLOWANCE!
Threatens to freeze his ‘pay’ if he doesn’t play by her rules
Week 10: Arizona 32, Buffalo 30
Week 10: Arizona 32, Buffalo 30
DEAN OF A DYNASTY
49ers all-time great passes away at 68