Create Your Outer Space – Entertain Some Thought For The Backyard . . .

Create Your Outer Space – Entertain Some Thought For The Backyard . . .
  • Written by
  • Dyani Van Basten Batenburg

Kiwis are renowned for our outdoor living code – stretching alfresco evenings as far into the year as possible. Creating user friendly – and chic – entertaining spaces is high on the to-do list for many – especially with the pandemic keeping us close to home. And, although building materials and furnishing products may well be stuck at sea, and labour shortages evident, there’s no time like the present to start planning ahead for next year’s backyard transformation.

Life in motion

When kicking around your place this summer, take time out to gauge how you ‘really’ use it. Are you a morning coffee patio dweller, late night entertainer, or all-day lounger? The architectural layout of an outdoor space or room should be determined by you, says Nichola Vague, landscape architect at Zones – national landscaping specialists. “Nowadays, more often than not, people want greater flexibility in their outdoor spaces – we’re losing the dining table, focusing on comfy loungers, adding in a bar leaner – we’re opting for all-inclusive architectural vision,” explains Nichola. Ideally, it’s great to have that indoor/ outdoor flow – the outdoor room as an extension off your kitchen and dining – but if that’s not possible (budget, geographical positioning, sunlight restrictions, the elements, and land restrictions all play into what we are prepared to do and not do) creating a ‘destination space’ away from the house is within reach. “Creating that additional entertaining area is a wish list item. And, it’s better to do it once – save a little longer – and do it well,” says Jimmy Dow, director of Bay of Plenty’s CoastNZ Construction.

Up and over

“It’s about creating a space that you don’t just want to spend time in, but will. So, a good starting point is thinking about coverage. A permanent fixture is perfect for all-weather conditions, and louvres are ever-increasing in popularity and affordability,” says Nichola. Outdoor louvre systems can be constructed up to 30 metres in area without council consent, anything between 20 and 30 metres must be built by a licensed LBP and anything under you can DIY. And, because they’re powder coated aluminium, they’re a safe option for the long- term – no twisting or warping. “The great thing with louvre systems is you have that open-air ability and protection from the elements – the full service. Customisable louvre systems gift the option to tie in colours with your house, add in sensors, and multiple fixing capabilities.” But, if you are planning on a direct fix to the house, think looks and preservation. “The last thing you want to do is penetrate into your house and cause damage, so think in terms of cladding and back flashings, as well as a clean finish,” says Jimmy. And if you do settle on creating your space away from the comforts of the house, consider layers of protection. “Pull-down screens and blinds are readily available – also permanent glass sides – it’s about developing an area that’ll carry you through the seasons.”

Light my fire

Whether it’s a destination stepped back from the house, or a dining room extension, any outdoor space needs to consider cooking and heating requirements before the spades hit the dirt. And for those dreaming of a coveted outdoor kitchen – you’re not alone. According to a 2021 design trends report by the US National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), 60% of homeowners are looking to add outdoor kitchens. And, an American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey showcased the popularity of outdoor kitchen additions globally, with 45% of the architects surveyed predicting outdoor kitchens would be the most popular kitchen product and feature in the coming years. “Outdoor kitchens have come in leaps and bounds! You have off-the- shelf elements, like your standalone Electrolux kitchen units, to your customised componentry – designed to in keep with your house – but consider power access too,” says Nichola. “Adding in built-in seating around a fire pit or bean bags can relax the setting, but don’t forget local code of compliance specifics and district plan restrictions. For example, outdoor fires need to be at least a metre off the boundary line, and every council will stipulate fire emission rules – especially in urban areas. “The upshot is, it pays to speak to your local council before actioning elaborate plans,” adds Jimmy.

Shine a light

With structure overhead, fire pit in, seating sorted and a kitchen to cook on, don’t sit back and relax just yet. “Lighting is a huge component in an outdoor space,” explains Nichola. “Hardwiring a lighting system gives you greater remote and sensor capabilities. Solar options relieve power handling but they can be limiting – not everyone wants their backyard a-glow all night.”

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