Australia is made for outdoor living, so it’s little wonder an alfresco area has become a must-have for our homes. However, we’re now looking beyond decking and trendy outdoor furniture to create the perfect alfresco space. Many homeowners are seeing the value of adding a permanent weatherproof structure to their home, creating an indoor-outdoor environment that can be enjoyed all year round that adds value to the property.
What most people love about having an alfresco is that it makes the perfect spot for entertaining. We can build in a niche for a flat screen television, a gas fire, a fully appointed kitchen – in fact just about anything you could have in the living area inside your home.
So how do you create the perfect indoor-outdoor experience?
Before you begin, consider how you will use the room and who will be using it. Will both adults and children use it? Will you be hosting dinner parties and large get-togethers? Think about how you will use it throughout the year, especially as the weather gets cooler. Consider your future too and how the investment will impact on the value of your home and its saleability.
As with all building extensions and renovations, once you have an idea of what you want, Dowling Homes can start working with you to bring this to life. We’ve put together some of our favorite al frescos for inspiration, and some tips to help you get the perfect al fresco area for your home:
Sizing it up
The size of outdoor rooms varies dramatically from just enough room for a table and chairs – 3 x 5 metres – to vast spaces with separate lounge and dining areas. Whatever the size, the most important thing is to ensure the quality of your outdoor room complements that of your indoor space, and does not appear as simply a random addition to your home.
Location, location, location
The key to creating an alfresco living area as an extension to your home design is location. Look at a plan of your home and work out the best siting to maximize the natural elements, such as sunlight, views and prevailing winds. While a design with two walls and two open sides is ideal to maximise views, it might not work if there are strong winds in a certain direction. If your home has a pool or spa, this will also determine the best location and design of your alfresco room.
When you are planning a permanent structure for your outdoor room, it is essential to consider materials that will resonate with the overall property design. After all, this is a permanent addition to your home and aesthetically it needs to sit harmoniously with the house. Some of the best designs are now using materials such as stone, polished concrete and recycled timbers.
Beneath your feet
Timber decking has long been the floor of choice for alfresco areas – think jarrah and red gum timber to add warmth and style. However as the line between indoors and outdoors blurs, our flooring choice is becoming more influenced by our home interior. Innovations in flooring products mean you can choose from luxurious pavers and slip-resistant tiles that have the look of the inside, with the durability the outdoor environment demands. Natural materials are also becoming more popular for outdoor rooms – we’ve created a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors with the stunning use of polished concrete on several of our recent building projects.
Just as important as what is beneath your feet is what’s above your head. You can choose a style that fits with the overall theme of your home, and also add a touch of creativity. Consider timber panelling for a unique ceiling style. Or a sleek semi gloss ceiling to add a touch of glamour. Alternatively, the latest developments in louvres give you complete control over heat, shade, light and ventilation levels in your outdoor room. At the touch of a button, you can adjust the blades to let in fresh air and natural sunlight. What’s more, the latest designs feature sleek, architectural lines for a bold design statement. At the top of the wish list for many home owners are aluminium blades; simply because of the way they combine style and durability.
The outdoor room goes hand-in-hand with dining and entertaining. While weatherproof dining and seating areas continue to be popular, we are seeing more built-in seating, especially along walls. The beautiful thing about having seating built into the walls is that is perfectly complements the more informal and relaxed nature of outdoor dining and entertaining. Plus it can provide storage for outdoor cushions – we’ve even concealed eskies into some of our built-in seating. Add to this an outdoor bar and built-in outdoor kitchen, and you can create the entertaining environment of your dreams.
Colour outside the lines
Colour is an important element in scheming your interior and exterior spaces. Trend shades include zesty greens, rich purples and warm reds. Complement these with popular neutrals. The major paint brands such as Wattyl, Dulux and Porter’s Paints have specialist paint products for outdoor use, and are continuously extending their colour ranges to help create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors.
Outdoor render for is available in a range of contemporary colours to complement your home’s style and create a stunning feature in your addition. Consider whether you want a smooth rendered style or a texture finish. Dowling Homes will be able to advise you on the best finish for your alfresco room.
Mirrors, artwork, sculptures, rugs, chandeliers… items that have been traditionally reserved for indoor living rooms are finding a place outdoors. Outdoor decoration is a growing trend, with much more thought going into how to create an environment that we want to spend time in, while also expressing a little creativity. Decoration is a way to create the perfect balance between indoors and outdoors, such as wall-hung plants creating ‘green walls’ and fabulous light fittings to add a bit of extra “wow”. Dimmable LED lighting is all the rage, and this can be used to highlight art works and sculptures strategically placed on the al fresco walls.
These days, outdoor rooms are seen as an extension of the adult space – which means that nothing is off limits. We are seeing an outdoor spin on modern luxuries, such as wall-mounted televisions, speakers linking to the home’s AV system and more. By bringing elements of your lifestyle outdoors, you create a room that is not just for entertaining – it’s for living.
Let there be light
An abundance of light is the secret to ensuring your alfresco room can be used throughout the year. More and more outdoor rooms are designed with clever skylights, roofing and windows for extra light and ventilation.
Here in Adelaide, we know what it’s like to have four distinct seasons. And it’s important to have an outdoor room that you don’t need to close off as soon as the cooler weather moves in. Imagine walking outdoors on a cold winter’s night, straight into the comfort of a toasty warm room with a crackling log-fire. By adding smart heating solutions to your outdoor space, it is transformed into a room you can enjoy throughout the year. There are designs to suit any outdoor room, such as integrated wall-mounted log fires, gas fires, and the ever-popular chimeneas. And now there are some fabulous and very glamorous fire pits on the market, in all shapes and sizes.
Our growing eco-consciousness is driving a new generation of ‘green’ design solutions specifically for the outdoor space. Popular designs include mosaic features made from recycled tiles and glass, and plantation shutters can create a ‘wow’ factor. Smart roofing systems are also a great way to make the most of the natural breeze to cool your alfresco room, rather than relying on air conditioning units. Or maybe a huge steel sweep fan?
Once you have your new al fresco area, you’ll end up spending more time than you ever imagined – it will soon become the gathering area for your family and friends and a great spot for summer dinner parties.
Talk to us today about how to extend your home with the perfect al fresco area.
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