Creating an outdoor room
Queensland has a beautiful climate and one that allows for a largely outdoor lifestyle. But for many people, a simple deck doesn’t quite cut it. They want to enjoy the outdoors with a degree of comfort. The type of comfort that only an outdoor room can offer.
Outdoor living areas are not a new concept, just look at any older style home and chances are you will see large verandahs adorned with outdoor settings. The major difference is that today we do things better. The verandahs of the past have made way for outdoor rooms and alfresco areas with a degree of refinement never before thought of.
So let’s look at some of the basics that go into making an outdoor room.
Where to build the outdoor room:
The one thing to keep in mind about the outdoors is that it is ‘outdoors’. It’s not inside where windows, walls and doors protect us from the elements. This needs to be taken into account when designing an outdoor room.
A new home, or renovation, should take advantage of the most suitable aspects of the home. Which areas will give you the best views?
Do these areas benefit from cooling breezes in summer? Are these areas adversely affected by the harsh summer sun? All of these factors and more need to be considered.
For this reason, you would not typically build an outdoor room on the western side of your home. The summer sun beating down on a hot afternoon could quickly render this area unliveable. Ideally, your outdoor room will receive the benefits of the warming early morning sun in winter, whilst avoiding any direct sunlight later in the year when things start to heat up.
Keep in mind that you can control these elements to a large extent providing your outdoor room has been well thought out. A well designed outdoor room can enable you to enjoy the flow of breezes through this space when desirable, whilst enabling you to block out the sun, wind and rain when required. A common way of doing this is using clear plastic drop down curtains, but there are dozens of other ways to achieve this that are far more attractive, and in some cases considerably less expensive.
Of course, if you are building an outdoor room it would be nice to have a sense of being at one with nature. Finding the area with the best view of your garden is a good way to start. However, this is not completely essential, as plants can often be added to improve an otherwise bland outlook.
Linking indoor and outdoor rooms:
The goal for most people when building an outdoor room is to link this space with the interior of their home. To have a connection between the two areas that gives the feeling of the inside of the home spilling out into your outdoor area.
Material choices are crucial in achieving this, as are fittings and fixtures. The right choice of building materials and colours can seamlessly link the inside of your home to your outdoor room, essentially blurring the borders of what is inside and what is out. For most people, the less defined these two spaces are the better.
Defining boundaries of an outdoor room:
The most popular style of outdoor rooms are those that have reasonably well-defined boundaries, although this can be a matter of personal preference.
The majority of outdoor rooms have a sense of enclosure, even if they are not in fact enclosed. Clever use of walls, handrails, fencing and plants can give a feeling of your outdoor space being a room, without it feeling restrictive. It’s important that you maintain a connection with your garden beyond the boundaries of your outdoor room.
One way to achieve this is to limit the number of true walls that your outdoor room has. Typically it will have one, which is the outside wall of your actual house. And more often than not, this is enough wall space for an outdoor room. The remaining boundaries of the room can be defined by the decking and/or paving, as well as the roof line.
If you feel that you would like further boundaries, then it’s worth considering natural barriers such as plants and rocks.
Privacy is an important consideration when it comes to planning an outdoor room. Most people find it hard to relax and unwind if their neighbours are looking straight at them. Landscaping the outdoor area with trees, shrubs and walls can block off these undesirable outlooks, whilst still allowing you to enjoy the sense of being outside.
Creating a beautiful space:
So now that we have covered some of the basic considerations, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways to make your outdoor room/alfresco area a truly stunning space.
Lighting is important as it can set the mood for the entire area. Depending on the effect you are after lights can be positioned in the ceiling or along walls or both. You can even take it one step further and include featuring lighting along the underside of handrails, downlight built into a bar area or even position lights in the deck itself. There are many possibilities, which you chose will depend very much on the effect that you are after.
Outdoor kitchens have become increasingly popular and often include many of the things you would find in your conventional kitchen, with bench tops, sinks, storage cupboards, refrigerator and even a dishwasher. Commonly it will feature an inbuilt BBQ, but it could also include cooktops, wood-fired ovens and wok burners. The possibilities are endless.
Typically most outdoor rooms will have a roof of some kind, although some people do prefer to be able to relax under the stars. Given that you will be having a roof, then depending on the style of home and the look you are after, you will most likely want this roof to have a lined ceiling.
A lined ceiling gives a sense of completeness, of a job that has been thoroughly done. This in itself can be the difference between a true outdoor room and a large undercover deck.
Water features are another useful addition that can create a wow factor in your outdoor room. Water features not only create an interesting visual element but can also create a soothing environment that is conducive to relaxation.
Your outdoor room can also be designed to blend in with your swimming pool, should you have one. But having the two spaces work well together takes more than placing them side by side. Creating a natural flow from the interior of your house, through your outdoor room and into your pool area takes careful thought and planning if it is to be done successfully. Materials, positioning and outlook are all part of the mix which if done right can look stunning. Done poorly and each space can begin to clash with the other. Yet another reason why working with an architect is so important to achieving a quality outcome.
Other additions that can add to the liveability of your outdoor room are heaters, ceiling or wall mounted fans and an outdoor bar.
Liveability of your outdoor room
Furniture needs to be considered during the planning process to ensure that your outdoor room achieves maximum liveability.
How many people are likely to occupy this space regularly? If entertaining, how many people need to be catered for? How will these people be catered for in this space? If you do want to entertain, what type of entertaining will you do, will it be sit down meals, or more of a casual BBQ?
All of these questions need to be considered, with the answers used to create a liveable, functional design. The type, size and even style of furniture used all have a bearing on the final outcome that needs to be taken into account during the design phase. Outdoor rooms are meant to be spacious and easy to move through, however, tables, chairs and bar stools can quickly clutter this area, creating a space that feels more stressful than relaxing.
I commonly see people creating a wonderfully spacious outdoor room, only to fill it up with furniture destroying the relaxed nature of the space. Ideally, people should be able to comfortably move past people sitting without needing to rub up against them or ask them to move their chairs in a bit.
Placement of furniture also needs to be considered in relation to how people will move through this space. As you walk out from your home into your outdoor room, where do you instinctively want to move? Is this path clear for you to move through? Do you have a clear path from the food preparation area to the table? Allowances need to be made for all of these factors.
So as you can see creating an outdoor room that is functional, liveable and enjoyable is not as simple as throwing up a roof and sticking a BBQ under it. If you would like to know more about creating a stunning outdoor room or alfresco area for your home, then give me a call to arrange a consultation. You will be amazed at the enjoyment a well designed outdoor room can bring to you and your family.