Smart ways to update your outdoor space
The contestants on The Block certainly know how to inject style into outdoor areas. Here are some tips to rejuvenate your own backyard.
AGL is powering The Block on Channel 9 in 2019. This year couples will renovate the Oslo Hotel in St Kilda into five top-end, three-storey homes.
Own your space
In Australian homes, outdoor spaces come in all shapes and sizes. You might have a big backyard or a small balcony. A cute patio area or a rooftop terrace. Clearly, your first step in any outdoor makeover is to assess the area and be realistic about what you can achieve within it. With a little effort, you can make any outdoor space feel fabulous.
Design your outdoor room
The next step in your styling quest is to design your ideal outdoor room. In a small space, choose furniture like low-slung sofas or chairs and small tables that don’t dominate; and strike for simplicity by banishing clutter. If you’ve got a bigger backyard, you’ll need to up-size your furniture – if the lounges and chairs are too small, they could look a little inconsequential in that big space. Once your design’s locked in, start shopping! Don’t forget to scour the secondhand shops and online marketplaces if your budget’s tight.
In Australia’s harsh climate, shade is a priority so you can kick back in your outdoor room even when the sun’s at its zenith. Lush ferns and trees could work in your favour here; otherwise, there are plenty of semi-permanent and permanent shade options which aren’t too expensive. With the right shade solution in place, you’ll get the added bonus of blocking the sun from your interior living spaces – which helps to cool them down and reduce your reliance on air conditioning. Then, once winter rolls around, you can remove the shading to invite the sun back into your home when it’s needed most.
When winter approaches, we naturally retreat indoors. Yet in many parts of Australia, all it takes is a well-placed fire pit or a gas patio heater and you can still enjoy the fresh outdoor air for most of the year. Just picture a mob of your mates around a fire pit, roasting marshmallows and feeling the camping vibe – even though you’re in the middle of the city. Priceless.
A great way to add greenery to a balcony is by going up the wall. Grab a vertical garden system from your local hardware and have some fun choosing plants – like an array of aromatic herbs or rows of hardy succulents. In a bigger space, consider indigenous natives or other plants that will thrive in your local climate. While you’re in garden mode, how about a set-and-forget automatic watering system to reduce your water bills? The latest irrigation systems can predict the weather and adjust their output if rain’s on the way.
Go solar, or go smart
To maximise the energy efficiency of your outdoor living area, choose solar lighting. From floodlights to fairy lights and everything in between, there are endless options when it comes to garden lighting that’s powered by the sun. Another option is the latest outdoor smart lights. While they might not be solar powered, they come with fun features like colour-changing bulbs and the ease of controlling them from your phone – perfect for a party.
Speaking of parties…
If you’ve got a bigger backyard and love a good barbecue with friends, then a couple of strategically-placed wireless loudspeakers that look like large rocks are just the ticket. Once the party’s over, grab your barbecue-cleaning robot (yes, they exist) and kick back while the bot does all the work.
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