Creating an interactive backyard

Father and daughter watching a movie outdoors with battery lights flickering above.
ARTICLE Hayley-Anne Brown


“We would like an interactive backyard where we can entertain lunch and dinner parties. Do you have any ideas?”


Use various light sources

Seed lights are awesome. They spread oodles of warmth and their majestic sparkle will turn any outdoor space from drab to wow! Create an inexpensive feature light suspended over seating arrangements with battery powered seed lights. Get creative and wrap them around a found object; an old rusty chandelier, wire baskets, rusty chicken mesh, an old bird cage, a branch or inside jars. 

To give your backyard a greater sense of depth at night, light up a few boundary trees or your garden. They don’t have to be hard-wired lights, you can use solar powered lights, flaming garden torches, or tea lights in jars or in stands. Finally, a roaring outdoor firepit, brazier or fireplace and voilà! 

It shouldn’t be hard to find the drinks

Create a watering hole, so party goers can self-hydrate. Whether it’s a bath tub, concrete pipe, half wine barrel, wheelbarrow, large champagne bucket or a tea trolley, have a fully stocked station ready to hydrate the hordes. 

Backyard movie showing

One of my fondest memories of holidaying in Waiheke with family is watching outdoor movies. As soon as we arrive, my father-in-law titivates for several hours setting up everything, including the outdoor projector, until everything is just right and ready to go for the tribe. 

An outdoor projector is the perfect finishing touch to an evening with loved ones. Throw some blankets, lawn chairs and cushions on the ground, add several bags of popcorn, a sprinkling of flickering candles and there you have it, the ultimate memorable outdoor movie experience. Even if Dad falls asleep in the first 10 mins, it’s all worth it.


Don’t sweat if you don’t have the latest and greatest fully-integrated outdoor audio system. There are some awesome, affordable, wireless audio solutions on the market. Simply set your playlist at the beginning of the night and let it roll. Lana Del Rey does it for me!

Dressing the table

If you’re lost for inspiration, look to Mother Nature and go for a hunting and gathering mission. Centre pieces can be as simple as a cluster of lanterns surrounded by deer antlers, pine cones and dried leaves, a budding magnolia, or a citrus branch.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use mismatched utensils. I’m addicted to picking up cool vintage cutlery sets and serveware, as they make a table look so chic. Mix your metals; nickel, brass, copper, bronze and so on, with modern ware and you’ll have the ultimate timeless look. I have a cupboard full of unique finds that I can call upon when I need to dress a table.

Need to complete your interactive backyard? Look at adding an Outdoor firepit. 

This article by Hayley-Anne Brown featured on page 33 of Issue 021 of Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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