The Australian lifestyle has always embraced outdoor living, whether its backyard barbeques, summers spent in the pool or drinking a coffee in the sun.
Essential to this is the outdoor room. No longer an afterthought, outdoor rooms are fast becoming a standout feature in Australian homes: a space that seamlessly blends indoors and outdoor living, and connects the interior environment with the natural elements that surround it.
With a bit of careful planning, it’s not hard to create an outdoor room that is not only beautiful, but also functional and able to withstand the elements.
To get you started, here are six tips on how to create your ideal outdoor room.
Step 1: Think Horizontal
Horizontal lines in architecture and interior design can have a grounding effect, which evokes a sense of restfulness. They also tend to draw the eye out towards the horizon, making them a great feature to include in an outdoor room. Using horizontally laid cladding boards like Stria™ or Linea™ Weatherboard can help visually connect your space to the outside world, whether it’s a tranquil bush view, neighbouring trees or a landscaped garden. Horizontal cladding will also help draw the eye in a way that creates continual lines between indoors and out.
Step 2: Don't Forget the Shade
Protection from the sun is one of the top priorities when creating an outdoor room, especially in the Australian climate. There are multiple shading options to choose from – awnings, retractable blinds, shade sails you can take down over winter, cantilevered umbrellas for smaller courtyards or eating areas – so finding something to suit your look should be simple. For example, a striped retractable blind can add the finishing touch to a laidback Hamptons look, while a boxy cantilever can double as an undercover area for a modern home. Before you install, take note of where the sun falls in your outdoor space throughout the day. This will ensure you place your shade in the right position for maximum protection.
Step 3: Get Creative with Cladding
Cladding isn’t just exterior walls of a house – the same look and texture can be used to transform a plain verandah or balcony into a visually striking space by getting creative with different cladding styles along the interior walls. Linea Weatherboard, for example, gives verandahs a beach holiday charm, while vertically placed Axon boards finished in a black or charcoal colour can add a modern twist. Applying cladding to the interior of your balcony can also help create a visual link between the exterior of your home and your outdoor room.
Step 4: Consider Privacy
While you want your outdoor room to embrace its natural surrounds, having a certain degree of privacy means you and your family can enjoy the space in peace. Carefully placed walls or blinds can help shield your space from prying eyes, although take care not to enclose yourself too much – after all, you still want to be able to enjoy a connection to the outdoors. Natural elements such as hedges or small trees can also be strategically used to create privacy, while also adding a natural touch.
TIP: Always check local restrictions before planting trees as they may be a native weed or impactful on the surrounding infrastructure.
Step 5: Choose Robust Materials
After you design and create your beautiful outdoor room, you'll want it to last so it can be enjoyed for many years to come. It's essential the materials you have used hold their own against the sun, rain or wind. Make sure your outdoor furniture is made from durable materials designed for outdoor use, such as hardwood timbers or aluminum. For walls, fibre cement is an ideal option. If properly installed and maintained, fibre cement cladding it is weatherproof, resists fire and moisture damage, and doesn’t crack, swell or warp over time.
Step 6: Don't Forget About the Lighting
There’s nothing better than enjoying a nightcap on the verandah or entertaining on the deck during those long summer nights. Well-placed lighting can help you extend the use of your outdoor room beyond the sunshine. What you choose, though, depends on your purpose. Downlights above an outdoor kitchen area are a useful addition, while wall lights or decorative string lights wrapped around a focal point are a great way to add ambience to your space.