The jury has reached a verdict: the plastic chairs and unstable sun umbrella aren’t going to cut it this summer. Instead it’s time to think of your alfresco, or patio, as an extension of your internal living area and turn up the dial on this leisurely space.
This summer the influential drivers are coming from Europe – Greece and Italy – Bali and the Californian coastline, all stunning locations where outdoor living is a way of life and where they have mastered the art of relaxing to perfection.
Think lavish lounge settings and 3m-long outdoor dining tables for starters.
“Outdoor spaces are now considered one of the most important areas in our homes, especially in South Australia,” Globewest’s Shane Duckwitz says.
“We are seeing a lot of darker finishes used, giving a more sophisticated look. Modular seating is becoming more popular, creating more of a hub feeling. Larger round tables outside create more of a relaxed feeling, and are great for entertaining.”
It’s all about creating a relaxed living zone and enjoying our great climate, long summer days and the natural environment, says Coco Republic’s furniture buyer Alexandra Dewar.
“Embracing the quintessentially Australian indoor/outdoor lifestyle is key, and many of us live in spaces that connect, are versatile and enrich the idea of an alfresco lifestyle,” she says.
For some, their outdoor focus will be on family entertainment and that means a swimming pool is essential.
Metricon’s Studio M consultant Jenny Henderson says its important to think about your entertaining needs and placement of any outdoor living zone and swimming pool from the outset when building a new home.
“It’s becoming increasingly popular to integrate a pool into the home,” Jenny says.
“Pools in close proximity connecting outdoor areas or lap pools that streamline down one aspect of the home ensure they are highlighted as a feature of the home.
“It is recommended that you work closely with your builder in the early stages of planning your dream home to confirm that the placement and design of the pool is logistically appropriate for the space and achieves the desired outcome.”
Jenny says deep blue pool tiles, as seen in Metricon’s Somerset display at Blackwood Park, pictured above, create a crisp and classic feel.
“If you’re opting for a more contemporary look, cool blue pool tiles are making a comeback. Decking or large format tiles around a pool area reinforce the outdoor-indoor feel when paired together with greenery and landscaping.”
And don’t forget the other essentials to keep comfortable outdoors.
“Café blinds, outdoor fireplaces and furnishings can create welcoming spaces to use during the warmer and cooler months,” she says.
“Modern Australiana is a theme we see filtering through into outdoors,” Early Settler’s buyer Monica Porter says.
“Worn looking materials such as reclaimed teak and other Australian hardwoods look casual when teamed with dining chairs in airy resort-worthy rattan. Accessorise curved wicker occasional chairs in native bird print cushions that come in soft blues, whites and pinks to really connect with nature.
“Grab some retro native blooms such as bottlebrush, banksia and eucalypt and create a table centrepiece in vivid pinks, oranges and purples. Fill baskets with big, textural native leaves arranged on cane ottomans that double as help yourself drinks tables – just don’t forget the Pimms.
“Lastly, rig up a number of transparent bulb pendants to create a welcoming party atmosphere your guests will love.”
Zones within the outdoor zones
For many, the outdoor zone will simply be about relaxing with friends, so don’t forget the drinks cart.
“Your outdoor table is like your stage, you will entertain, eat and enjoy endless conversation here,” Globewest’s Shane Duckwitz says.
“If this is your main focal point, make it a statement. The seating must also be comfy for those long lunches.”
When you have a large outdoor space, Shane says it’s best to treat it as you would an internal open-plan area and create zones.
“If your space is large, try and create different areas for relaxing and entertaining,” he says.
“Add a chandelier to define your lounging area. Include items that traditionally you’d have inside like a bar cart! Imagine having cocktails by the pool. We all enjoy a party, so why not have it outside, even in the winter. Imagine rugged up around the firepit on your outdoor sofa.”