Making clever use of the space available in outside areas remains high on homeowner lists.
Australians love their outdoors, with many new homeowners ensuring their home’s design has an outside room that flows seamlessly from the inside area.
And as property developers continue to downsize to small house sites, it is difficult for some people to achieve the right balance of indoor-outdoor living as the size of houses continues to increase. Improving an outdoor entertaining area is one of the most cost-effective ways to add value to your property, as well as minimising maintenance. If your yard is on the small side, there are ways to create the illusion of space with designers highlighting the need to remain clutter free, use neutral colours and low furnishings
Designer Rachel Gilding says her trick to maximise a shrinking outdoor area is to make what’s available seamless and functional while giving the illusion of a bigger space.
“Open plan living has really hit its stride this century because we’re adapting to the smaller living options available to us,” Rachel says. “Our balmier climate is the envy of people around the globe and the outside room is where the design action is taking place. It’s important to follow some basic rules in a new design or renovation because you want it to look great and be easy to maintain.”
Rachel, who works with Beaumont Tiles, says practicality is a must as a great outdoor design extends your living options, so minimise the divide between indoor-outdoor spaces.
“Get a seamless flow by extending your indoor tiles out onto the patio or courtyard,” she says. “And make the area functional by installing an outdoor kitchen, building a herb garden or creating a sumptuous dining area so it becomes a viable living space from breakfast to the nightcap.”
Rachel says her outdoor area design tips can be applied to an existing space or to an area slated for an upgrade. Choose flooring that will withstand the elements over time, she says. If an area needs to be paved, a large-format paver or tile will have less grout joints and help create an illusion of space with a more integrated flow.
“Tiles are a great option for homeowners, as they’re high impact, low maintenance and can be cleaned easily. If natural stone is the choice, make sure it’s properly sealed to protect and extend its life.”
Carve out patterns in your backyard that are both beautiful and practical by using natural stone and filling in empty space with low maintenance plants, pebbles or rocks and seating that doubles as storage.Rachel Gilding, designer
Giving consideration to the direction of laying the tile will also enhance the living space, she says.
“Using long rectangular tiles in a space with a shallow back garden can extend your space visually. Similarly a narrow block can be widened using the rectangles across the block,” Rachel says. Good tile suppliers should offer buyers unique tile sizes to suit unusual or tight spaces, she says.. A 810mmx406mm travertine stone tile and 800mmx400mm granite and bluestone tile are among Beaumont’s most popular for smaller spaces.
“This is one of the reasons large format natural stone tiles are a growing trend. (They come) in a range of colours and finishes because, while everyone’s property footprint is unique, we all want to feel they’re bigger.”
Layering of decor is the next step to creating a luxurious feel. A global trend is using materials that remind people of the natural world such as stone, wood or marble flooring, Rachel says. “Tiles that imitate natural materials, such as our wood-look tiles, are really popular right now for creating a seamless indoor-outdoor room. Accessorise with pop-coloured pot plants, mosaic wall art or even a water feature.”
When decorating, take a minimalist approach, which will make it easier to maintain and clean the space. Think large feature statement for pots or lounges. Low-line units will again create the illusion of space by receding into the flooring and making the area appear bigger. If you choose to install a pergola or verandah, make sure you maximise natural light.
“With such busy lifestyles, landscaping your outdoor area will make it easy to look after. Carve out patterns in your backyard that are both beautiful and practical by using natural stone and filling in empty space with low maintenance plants, pebbles or rocks and seating that doubles as storage,” she says. Adding functional luxuries such as a fireplace or fire pit can increase the value of a property and make it useful year round.