19-21 April 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Outdoor Entertaining Area Design Tips

Interior designer Susie Trainor from Susie T Designs shares her tips on making the most of your outdoor entertaining area. Keep reading for Susie’s tips, including creating a connection indoors and out and what luxe items she recommends.

We are so lucky here in Australia to enjoy a climate that allows us to enjoy the outdoor areas of our homes almost year round. For the last decade or more, much more emphasis has been put on creating an indoor/outdoor connection within our homes. Prioritising these spaces can make perfect real estate sense and make it much more enjoyable for our living pleasure!

Step 1: How will you use the space?

Generally speaking, Aussie homes have a backyard or garden of some sort. The size, of course, differs wildly! But as a rule, there is a patch of something!

  • The great Aussie BBQ is something of a tradition, so I would suggest getting a BBQ out there. It doesn’t have to be huge, but a 4-burner with space for serving up on the side can be great.
  • Do you have space for a table and chairs? How many people are you likely to seat? Think about having six chairs as a minimum and then having stools that can be stacked somewhere to accommodate extra guests and double as side tables. Choose suitable outdoor finishes that withstand the weather unless you’re prepared to pull covers on and off. However, this can look unattractive and unwelcoming.
  • If you have even more space, a couple of comfy outdoor armchairs and/or a sofa make us want to get out and lounge with a cool drink!

 

Step 2: How do you want your outdoor entertaining area to feel?

  • Creating a feel for your outdoor space is when design comes into focus. Is it going to have a European/Mediterranean feel? Perhaps consider a pergola with climbers and travertine pavers. Would a timber deck (I recommend composite timber!) create a coastal feel? – depending on the colour, this translates to any modern backyard. Or perhaps you want to go sleek and cutting edge with bluestone and low zen-style plantings.
  • In our climate, having shelter overhead is an absolute winner for protection and creating a sense of intimacy. If you can build this in the form of an outdoor room or cabana, it will be hugely rewarding. If not, retractable awnings and market umbrellas can do the job.
  • Do you have enough privacy from neighbours? Look at your fences and see if they enhance your outdoor entertaining area. If not, consider ModularWalls, where you can customise your fence with paint, render, or inserts to create the height and feel you want. ModularWalls have the added benefit of being able to integrate lighting. You can subtly light your boundaries* at night to create a beautifully enticing scene.

Step 3: Making the indoor-outdoor connection

As humans, we subconsciously like to see design elements repeated – it’s soothing and builds connection. So try and continue the design style you’ve created inside the house into the outdoors, too, rather than something vastly different.

  • You may want to repeat elements of the colours you’ve used inside on the outdoor cushions. If you have lots of pinks and warm colours in your home, consider some plants that can echo this in the garden. If you have lots of white inside the house, bring that outside in the form of screens or walls – it makes the whole property seem connected and bigger!
  • If the budget allows, outdoor kitchens are becoming so popular, and here you can echo similar (but outdoor-rated) finishes from the main kitchen.

Step 4: Luxe bits for your outdoor entertaining area

Don’t forget all the little details that can make your outdoor entertaining area really special but also super practical! Here are my top tips:

  • Outdoor speakers for top-quality sound.
  • Mozzie candles or those new fancy mozzie zappers that aren’t ugly!
  • An esky that looks like a lovely piece of furniture! I have an esky that doubles as a side table made of outdoor wicker, and it’s been one of the best things EVER.
  • An outdoor fan if you have an outdoor room.
  • Lights, lights, lights! Fairy, up-down, step and deck lights etc – all of them. It’s guaranteed to be the biggest mood and game-changer. Always warm LEDs – those cool whites are the WORST.*
  • Beautiful plants that are low maintenance. Take cuttings from your neighbourhood, and you can grow the most amazing garden for hardly any outlay. Succulents are fabulous for this!
  • Blankets that can be stored nearby and pulled out when it gets a bit chilly.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips and here’s to enjoying your outdoor entertaining area.