ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson
Setting the scene
From a modest wooden deck through to a fully fledged outdoor room complete with its own audio-visual system, your garden is your oyster. New Zealand is known for it’s natural beauty and generally modest climate, so it’s time to claim your piece of outdoor paradise. The layout of your space is key to achieving good indoor-outdoor flow and that feeling of ‘wow’ where every space just seems to work. Considering your outdoor area and budget, think about your space and how you will access and use it. “Spending time on the planning stages of your outdoor entertainment space is worth the effort,” says Kate Ryan from Zones Landscaping specialists. “The most important aspect is getting the flow from the house to the outdoor space right. Other important aspects include shelter and positioning.”
Carrying outside the design principles you’ve applied inside your home will create a seamless flow and a sense of connectedness. Liz Kerby of Lizzie K & Co interior design explains: “The materials you will use – most of all flooring – have a great impact on the feel of the outdoor space, and you could consider continuing the materials and colours from your interior.” Classic timber decking is probably still the most popular choice for decks, but paving stones and tiles are also great options, especially for covered outdoor rooms.
“Consider your outdoor entertaining area a part of the blueprint of your house,” advises Liz. “For smaller homes this means that you can gain considerable extra useable space.”
Outdoor furniture plays an important role in setting the tone, and so does exterior lighting. And don’t forget your accessories to refresh your outdoor area and inject a touch of colour. Think cushions, throws and beanbags.
Entertaining outdoors wouldn’t be the same without the greenery – but that is not to say that your garden has to be a high maintenance space. Easy to grow plants and low maintenance landscaping solutions are the go-to alternatives for many busy couples and families. The advice of a landscaping expert can be invaluable here in creating a planting plan and garden design that works for you.
“The tropical look is very popular as most tropical plants don’t drop their leaves and are easy to maintain”, says Kate. Another great option is a rock garden with easy to care for succulents, combining the softness of foliage with the solidness of stone. Requiring more maintenance, an edible garden can add a whole new dimension to your outdoor space with fruit, veggies or herbs to harvest. Regular watering is important and it’s worth looking into automated irrigation systems. But garden planning doesn’t stop there. “Good garden design should incorporate focal points – features that make each different area exciting,” explains Kate. This could be anything ranging from exotic plants and outdoor furniture through to water features or sculptures. Even simple planter boxes and pots are great for adding visual interest and brightening up an area.
Pools, spa pools and water features are hugely popular in New Zealand, and for good reason. Most Kiwi families love a BBQ by the poolside and there’s nothing like a refreshing dip on a hot and sunny day. “Pools are usually a big success with children and teenagers, but they have to be properly installed and fenced,” advises Kate. “With water and reflections, pools make a space look and feel bigger, so they are actually great options for smaller gardens.” Similarly spa pools can create a separate zone in the garden that revamps an otherwise unused or underused area.
Gourmet kitchens are no longer the territory of professional chefs – high-end appliances are being installed in more and more residential homes and the trend is for more and more elaborate outdoor kitchens too. Possibilities start with a glammed up BBQ that can be built into an outdoor kitchen bench, and go on to include a fully spec’d kitchen with hot plates, fridge and wine fridge. “Wooden fires are extremely popular in outdoor entertaining areas as they provide a heat source and can extend the seasons,” says Liz. “Linking materials and colours back to your indoor kitchen creates a strong visual connection.”
Happily ever after
Using your outdoor space in more than one way to entertain will most certainly ensure that you will use and love your space more than ever before. Have a swim in the pool, whip up a mouth-watering meal in your outdoor kitchen, and then retreat to the comfy seats and settle down for a movie. With outdoor audio-visual entertainment systems becoming more affordable, your very own open-air cinema is now a realistic option – you could start with a white wall and an entry level projector.
You might be interested in reading: How to create your outdoor eating space.
This article by Stephanie Matheson featured on page 108 of Issue 023 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.