Making the most of your Outdoor Lounge & Dining Areas
The beautiful sub-tropical climate of South East Queensland lends itself perfectly to spending time outside. Apart from the hottest days and the occasional cold winds, the weather is ideal for lounging and dining in the open fresh air. And to get the most out of these wonderful conditions you need a well planned outdoor living environment. So here are 7 things that need to be considered to get the most out of your outdoor spaces and outdoor room design.
Leave enough space
A friend of mine had a large deck with a massive outdoor setting, a bar with stools and large free-standing BBQ. Although the deck was spacious when it was built, it soon became overcrowded to the point of being almost uncomfortable. One afternoon I went to visit to find him staining his furniture out on the lawn. Looking back at his now vast empty deck he said ‘That looks great, I think it’s time to downsize my furniture’.
Don’t fall into the trap of filling up your outdoor room with furniture and other bits and pieces. Vacant space gives people room to move, to breath and relax. It’s inviting in a way that a cluttered space can never be.
Extendable tables are one way of keeping a space open, but with the ability to accommodate more people when required. Built in seating around parts of the perimeter of your outdoor area can also leave room to move. A skilled architect can help you maintain the visual and practical space within an area whilst still allowing it to cater adequately for a number of guests.
Little point to having an outdoor room that is too hot to sit in during summer or too cold when chilling Westerly’s blow through. Your design should block the heat during the hottest months whilst still allowing cooling breezes to flow through the space. Where possible fans can be strategically positioned for those occasional still times where no natural breeze is available.
An advantage of using an architect that also offers interior and landscaping design is that the shading of an area can take many different, attractive forms. From trees, shrubs and hedges to shutters and louvers, it’s important that it’s not only functional but aesthetically pleasing as well.
Nothing will render an outdoor lounge or dining area unusable quicker than a swarm of mosquitoes or sand flies (also known as midges). If you live in an area that is favoured by these biting, blood sucking insects it’s important that the design of your outdoor room addresses the risk.
Typically evenings and nighttime are the worst times for these bugs. Oil filled lanterns and torches can be incorporated into the outdoor room design to help ward them off, as well as creating a mystical, romantic visual feature. Certain plants are also a natural deterrent for these troublesome bugs. Incorporating these into your outdoor design can help keep the biters at bay. Alternatively, you could use a phantom style screen or shutters with insect screening. There are many options available.
Fun, creative lighting
Lighting sets the mood and therefore some thought should be put into this when designing your outdoor lounge and dining areas.
Overhead lighting is an option, but keep in mind that lights can also attract moths and other bugs. Lighting that is placed high, but slightly away from your table can help to overcome this problem. For open areas just beyond your outdoor room, strings of lights and/or lanterns can give the space a festive feel, whilst candles or other forms of on table lighting can create an intimate, romantic feel at night.
During the day whilst blocking direct sunlight may be required at times to stop your space from overheating, you’re still going to want adequate natural lighting to make the area feeling bright and inviting. Your architect will be able to create designs that allow an area to have ample natural lighting without the concern of excessive heat or glare.
Enjoying outdoor rooms, be it dining outdoors with good food and great company or lounging around with a good book, should be a timeless affair where the hours just melt away. But this is only possible in a space that is high in comfort. We have already touched on adequate space and climate control, but general comfort in the form of seating and tables also needs to be considered.
It won’t matter how good the food or the company is if people are getting stiff backs and sore behinds. So comfortable seating and space at your table are crucial. If space is an issue built-in bench seating with quality cushions can be a great solution. If you have a lovely view or outlook, perhaps a breakfast bar or stools could also help create a comfortable space. Dangling feet often feel more comfortable than those stuck resting on the ground.
Designing a space where one can comfortably make eye contact with all guests is also an advantage and sure to make your outdoor room more appealing.
Sometimes the view from your outdoor room is enough of a feature to make the space visually memorable. But for those times when you need more there are any number of features that you can add that will make your space more noteworthy.
Brightly painted feature walls, timber screening, water features, mirrors or even plants can really complete an area and give it a focal point.
Connection, view and outdoor room design
Some outdoor rooms that I see look like an afterthought as if they were tacked on after the rest of the home was designed.
Your outdoor room design should blend in with the rest of the home in a planned and calculated way that enhances its usability and its visual appeal. Access to food preparation areas should be easy with as few obstacles as possible needing to be negotiated.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your outdoor space needs to be as close as possible to your kitchen. The best outlook should also be considered and sometimes the best view is looking back at your beautiful home. Poolside dining is a great example of this, where in the evening the view across the pool back at the well-lit rear of a home can be simply stunning.
So as you can see there are many things to consider when planning the perfect outdoor dining area, and these are just a few. If you would like to create an area where good times are had and the best of memories are made contact us today and let us create the perfect outdoor dining space for your needs.