ARTICLE Anya Kussler
Alfresco entertaining is an intrinsic part of the Australian lifestyle, especially as the days are getting longer and balmier. Having a well-designed, functional outdoor area that connects to your main entertaining rooms inside is a great way of creating more space to entertain guests when needed, or for you and your family to enjoy every day.
The crux to enhancing both in- and outdoor spaces, regardless of their size, is by obscuring the boundaries between the two areas, in order to create a seamless flow. This can be achieved either by removing physical or visual barriers or by adding special touches – take your pick from the following ideas...
1. Go green inside
Featuring green hues inside your home automatically connects the interior to the garden, and to nature. There’s a host of green options to choose from, including painted or wallpapered feature walls and carpets, or pot plants strategically dotted around the home. Alternatively, you could add more delicate accents such as cushions, green-patterned upholstery or decorative items and ornaments, like vases.
One word of advice: stick to soft, natural colours to make a subtle statement – garish, bright green or yellowish hues tend to be overpowering.
2. Open it up
The problem with many of the more established Australian abodes is that their backs connect to the garden only via teeny windows – or a windowless wall. The result: zero indoor-outdoor flow. This situation is easily remedied by installing or replacing smaller windows with larger ones – or, to really open up the space and allow an influx of light as well as easy access, consider sliding doors, stacking doors, bifolds or French doors.
Bear in mind that while sliding and stacking doors consume less space than French doors, you’ll have to factor in a track for them to slide on. If you feel like an indoor-outdoor flow with a difference, having garage doors as walls that open up can make for a funky industrial-style feature.
If you have smaller spaces that will benefit from being opened up, structural work may be required which will likely include council consent. Renovation specialist Cinzia Gagliardi recently carried out a project along these lines, where her client had previously been told converting three rooms into one space wasn't feasible. However, Cinzia found a solution.
"In reality, it could be done, but required structural consideration and council consent to proceed. We engaged a certifier and assessed the beams required to open up the space. Once we saw this could be done, designing a functional and beautiful space was easy."
3. Create floor flow
Having the floor in your indoor and adjacent outdoor space at the same level, as well as choosing the same flooring material, can hugely improve the flow, as it creates the illusion that you’re in one and the same space.
Stone is a robust, natural and eye-pleasing material that’s perfect for creating a seamless indoor-outdoor flow, especially in conjunction with large windows and sliding glass doors.
If you have a deck (still one of the most popular places for loved ones to congregate armed with a glass of the good stuff on a balmy summer’s evening), then timber or wood-like vinyl inside the kitchen and lounge will add continuity. As far as decking solutions go, there’s now an array of innovative, stylish, durable and eco-friendly materials available on the market.
4. Opt for an all-seasons layout
Given our notoriously unpredictable weather, it’s always a great idea to have a combination of covered and uncovered outdoor spaces. But even when it rains and you don’t have a covered entertainment area outside, you can still connect to your garden by reworking the interior layout. Instead of having the dining table in the kitchen far away from the garden, shift it into the living room or lounge, to a spot close to the windows so you’re able to enjoy the garden view. This also helps create the impression that the room is larger than it is.
5. Go for woven furniture
Woven furniture looks the part both inside a home and in the garden, so dotting a few tables and chairs both inside and out will connect the two spaces. Opt for modern synthetic rattan and wicker furniture – not only does it look ‘real’, but it’s also weatherproof and easy to keep clean.
6. Take your home outside
Another way to improve indoor-outdoor flow – and making your al fresco dining experience more user-friendly – is by simply taking your kitchen outside. Outdoor kitchens are becoming all the rage; as are outdoor ovens, fridges, rotisseries and other culinary appliances. Mitre 10 currently has some impressive outdoor kitchen options ranging from $5,400 - $7,900. Alternatively, Refresh can work with you to create built-in/bespoke outdoor furniture.
Outdoor beds – created through raised deck areas in sheltered spots – will provide comfortable post-meal relaxation stations for your guests, while garden seats around the edge of raised garden beds, with waterproof cushions in colours to match your interior décor, create a visual connection to the inside of your home.
Now before you start knocking down walls in order to turn your house into an entertainer’s dream, it pays to call in the pros to help you find the most practical solutions for your personal renovation scenario. If not, a simple plan might turn into a mission impossible, or at the very least a costly one. Our team of renovation builders are an excellent point of contact – not only will they provide you with all the expert advice you need design and construction-wise based on your budget, they can also take care of the entire renovation process for you, complete with any niggly permit requirements!
Get inspiration for your next renovation project by looking through our Case Studies..
Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project
If you would like to discuss options to renovate your home and/or coordinating indoor/outdoor flow, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.