Good indoor-outdoor flow is something of a New Zealand obsession. We are a nation in love with the outdoors. Decks, gardens, patios and porches allow us to enjoy the sun and fresh air in a comfortable extension of our living space.
For many Kiwi renovators, the creation of such outdoor zones is at the top of their to-do list. Take a look at some useful ideas for your renovation in order to achieve the smooth transition from inside to out.
Sitting on the deck in the sun with a glass of beer is one of life’s simple pleasures. Decks are as quintessentially Kiwi as rugby, racing and beer – they are a great gathering place for friends and family over the summer months, and enable us to access the rare winter sun on a dry, all-weather surface.
Innovative decking industry types have been instrumental in making decks more environmentally friendly, durable and attractive.
Daniel Gudsell from Abodo says that his company has developed a heat-treated wood that eliminates the need for harmful chemical treatments.
“New Zealand-grown plantation pine is cooled in a kiln at 220°C without oxygen so it doesn’t burn,” he says. “This almost fossilises the wood and increases its longevity significantly.”
Gudsell says that 90 per cent of decking wood in New Zealand is treated pine. The treatment used is called copper chrome arsenic, a toxic formulation that has been banned in most Western countries. Gudsell says that this is a concern: “You may have children crawling on decks treated with this, so it’s best to avoid it if possible.”
Abodo’s treated pine uses a preservative that contains neither chrome nor arsenic; the product has a 30 year warranty.
Other options for decking include solid composite decking or hardwoods like vitex or kwila. These woods are grown in tropical countries such as Indonesia and the Solomon Islands – harvesting of this wood is implicated in much deforestation in these areas. It’s important to check the provenance of the wood with your local supplier to ensure it comes from a responsibly managed forest.
Solid composite decking is a truly sustainable outdoor decking solution. There is no need to oil or stain a composite deck making it extremely low maintenance and the fact that it won’t warp, splinter, crack or decay speaks further to the hassle free nature of the product. In today’s busy lifestyle it is no surprise that this is timesaving, eco-friendly decking is gaining traction in the New Zealand building industry.
Sliding doors, French doors and stacking doors are all popular options for creating flow from inside to outside. Sliding and stacking doors take up less space than French doors, but they need a track to slide on and this creates a raised lip that can be a trip hazard.
Fletcher Windows and Doors have recently come up with a solution to this issue – their LevelStep doors are flush to the ground and allow for a truly seamless flow outside.
Ronnie Pocock from Fletcher Windows and Doors says that this product was developed to cater to the needs of the retirement home market, but is proving just as popular with renovators.
“It’s always been a nagging problem for us,” he says. “I had people come up to me at the Home Show asking why we couldn’t create a flush sliding door system – and this year we released such a product.”
When a sliding door is installed, the floor is rebated (meaning a space is created to hold the frame of the door).
With the LevelStep doors, the rebate is deeper and the track is flush to the ground.
The company also has a product on the market that allows the doors to open out over the home’s cladding. This means the doors are invisible when fully open and it creates a wider space. This is available for both stacking and sliding doors.
While some outdoor areas flow seamlessly from the indoors, stairs or walkways may need to be installed in order to access outdoor space. By utilising colour, texture and decorative elements, stairs can become a feature in themselves.
Designer Jules Moore is an award winning landscape designer. She says that stairs can provide a sense of journey, leading from one outdoor living zone to another. She gives the example of one garden she worked on that installed wooden framed steps that were curved down to an entertaining area.
“We painted the wood black, which was reflected in the fencing. Rocks were placed on the steps and in the garden created beside them – these were planted with small plants and created a very naturalistic look. The entertaining area was enticing and the stairs were a great way in which to join the two spaces.”
In another outdoor area, a raised boardwalk has been installed to join a pergola to the house. “The boardwalk really improves the flow,” says Designer Jules. “Wisteria attached above the boardwalk and around the top of the pergola also creates a sense of connection between the two spaces – it looks amazing when in full bloom.”
While decks, gardens and pergolas have been a popular choice for years when it comes to outdoor spaces, the way you join indoors with outdoors is really limited only by your imagination.
Outdoor kitchens have become popular options; there are many great products on the market including outdoor ovens, fridges, rotisseries and other appliances that can create great kitchen spaces.
Designer Jules Moore has worked on a number on unconventional projects over recent years; including a water garden that flows directly out of a bedroom to create a peaceful, meditative atmosphere.
“The owner had a lot of Zen pieces in the bedroom and wanted to extend this theme outside. The pool was made from an antique Chinese trough: a block was placed in it, which allows access over the pool and down other blocks to a garden with more Zen elements.”
Outdoor beds are also popular – these can be created through raised deck areas that are located in a sheltered space. It’s also possible to create garden seats around the edge of raised garden beds – the addition of weatherproof cushions in a fabric that matches the colour of your interior space to make a visual link between inside and out.
This article by Joanna Mathers featured on page 96 of Issue 014 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
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