FEATURED IN: The Dominion Post
Updated: 2/8/19

Outdoor fires are becoming increasingly popular in outdoor rooms, as are outdoor kitchens complete with bench space, running water and outdoor fridges, and pizza ovens; landscaping specialist Steve Strawbridge says.

Create Outdoor Spaces

More and more Wellingtonians are creating outdoor rooms to enjoy year-round.

Steve, together with his wife Rochelle, owns the Zones Landscaping branch based on the Kapiti Coast.

‘‘New Zealanders have always been outdoor people, they want to spend more time outdoors and what we’re finding in Wellington is that because of the weather and the housing market going up, people are spending money on the inside and spending it on the outside and getting it right, they can see it adds value to the property.’’

For Steve and his team, the extra focus on the outside means a surge in designing and creating outdoor rooms. ‘‘People are spending thousands on these rooms, and it’s worthwhile, absolutely,’’ says Steve. ‘‘People like indoor/outdoor flow and, in Wellington, there are always issues with the elements, especially the wind.

‘‘They want to feel warm and cosy while they’re outside and they just can’t do that for a lot of the year, which highlights the need to invest in outdoor areas and upgrade them to the point where they can actually enjoy them.’’

Many homes already have patios or decks, which Steve says can’t be enjoyed year-round without some form of additional shelter. But those areas are easier to transform by simply adding drop-down shades on the sides, or roofing. 

‘‘We’ve been installing a lot of 2m-high glass around the sides in some cases so the space feels enclosed and not exposed, in one Khandallah property we’ve put an outdoor fire in.’’

The secret to creating a great outdoor room lies within the planning and design process, says Steve. ‘‘Understand what you really want to do in your outdoor room, is it cooking is it entertaining or is it a bit of both? Think about the purpose.

‘‘A lot of people just go out and start plonking things here, there and everything and they don’t think about how they’re going to use the space. It’s really important to first think about how you want to use the space, and maybe get some professional advice to understand how it can all come together.

‘‘If you put a fire in, you want to have that away from the house but close enough that it will still be part of the outdoor room, and high enough for it to throw out some heat.

‘‘Or someone might put in a pizza oven, thinking it will give out a lot of heat which it doesn’t, so they’ll want to put a fire in as well, that’s a common mistake.’’ Steve talks of a Wadestown client who thought they had the ideal spot for a pizza oven and outdoor fire.

‘‘When we got on-site, from the top patio you would have looked straight down the chimney where they had positioned it, instead we flipped the design so it was opposite to where was first planned. Indoor/outdoor flow is as vital as positioning.

‘‘People may have a living or dining room off a kitchen that hasn’t necessarily got access to the outside at the moment, but if you put an outdoor room and create that access you can feel like you’re close enough to the kitchen, then step out to the outdoor living area.

‘‘It just takes a bit of vision as to what you can do with a space and how you want to spend your time inside and out.’’

FEATURED IN: The Dominion Post
outdoor kitchens

Outdoor fires are becoming increasingly popular in outdoor rooms, as are outdoor kitchens complete with bench space, running water and outdoor fridges, and pizza ovens.

‘‘People are spending heaps of money on really nice outdoor furniture too, in order to make it a great space to live in. 

‘‘One of the big things is to create an outdoor space that you want to go out and spend time in, it really is an extension of your house. ‘‘It’s got to be inviting so you do have to spend the money and do it properly.’’

The budget does have a big part to play though and the options are endless right across the spectrum.

Read other article posted on Dominion Post by Steve: Steve's strawberry planting tips

Get inspired

Are you thinking of designing an outdoor room? Be sure to check out these outdoor room renovations completed by Zones Landscaping.

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If you would like to discuss your outdoor room ideas with a landscaping professional, please get in touch to arrange a free consultation. Zones can provide you with end-to-end project management, and will design your project to your budget and specifications.