How to Create Your Home Retreat – Outdoor Entertaining Ideas

Written by in Buying

Australia’s enviable climate and love of outdoor living makes creating the ultimate retreat a top priority for many homeowners.

According to Houzz, one in two Australian homeowners use their outdoor space for entertaining. Personalisation and a quest to improve privacy are the top motivators to renovate.

Aussie homeowners crave spaces that are comfortable, fit for entertaining, functional and low-maintenance. To cater accordingly, they must serve as additional rooms, creating a haven perfect for relaxing and living in.

Outdoor living is favourable to almost everyone, especially in Australia. If you want to make the most of your space, but the winter blues are dampening your creative inspiration, here are some outdoor entertaining area ideas to sizzle things up.


Blur the Line Between Indoors/Outdoors

Living spaces that encompass outdoor/indoor areas create a seamless flow between both worlds.

Start by drawing inspiration from your current interior design. To reinforce the feel in one living space, continue the colour scheme, furniture styles, interior floors or architectural details outside. For example, painting or upgrading your furniture to reflect inside can link the two spaces.

Smooth transitions may also be achieved through bi-fold doors and structural elements. Houzz’s report shows a majority of homeowners (86%) introduced a deck or patio space to their backyards. Connect the living room to the covered patio via windows or glass/retractable doors. This will establish an open flow and make it easier for you to use the space for gatherings, entertaining or everyday use.

‘Zone’ Your Garden

Installing a patio/pergola can also help to create a separate entertaining zone within your garden.

These zones are effective for maximising space and planning out how it’ll be used. Consider what sectors you’ll need, for example an entertaining area, a space for the kids, gardening zone and a chill-out area.

Use different textures, furniture, rugs and carefully crafted pathways to subdivide the space. Creating levels can further break up and define sections.

Feature Lighting

Lighting can also play a part in creating great outdoor living spaces. Apart from the safety aspect, experimenting with lighting can change the ambience of selected areas while also serving a practical purpose.

Strategically scatter solar lights throughout garden beds and grass areas to draw the eye to focal points. Fairylights in trees and Tiki torches create a warm and inviting environment, while Citronella candles will help keep bugs at bay.

For dining and lounge zones, use soft LED lighting so food and drinks are well lit. Any decking or stair areas are best with walkway lighting to guide guests safely.

Make it Usable All Year Round

If your backyard is only functionable in the summer months, it’s time for a change.

Outdoor spaces have evolved into multi-season activity areas.  After all, they are an extension of our living spaces.

Upgrading or installing a patio can completely transform a backyard. To make the cooler months more comfortable for living and entertaining, install weather resistant blinds to the structure, which can turn an open-plan space into an additional living room. Patio roofs may also be made retractable to have more control over the space.

Adding accessories such as a fire pit, hanging plants, warm lighting cosy furniture and blankets add a sense of comfort too.

Bonus Tip: If you don’t want to restrict your views, choose clear blinds for your patio. Durable is important, because they’ll get a beating from the elements, along with high-quality zips, heavy rods, tracks and a storm-locking system.

Style Your Deck with Interior Design in Mind

Decks are another popular outdoor structure for providing an instant entertaining area while maximising your outdoor space.

Fit out the deck with plenty of lighting, entertainment system and outdoor kitchen or BBQ area. Invest in high-quality, low-maintenance decking materials, such as composite decking, which eliminates upkeep and nasty problems like termites.

Both patios and decks can add a focal point to your outdoor space.

Don’t Skimp on the Details

Comfortable patio furniture that can be used all year round, throw rugs, cushions and ample seating are all essentials for an effective outdoor entertaining area.

A working garden is also a good addition. Although many homeowners prefer the low-maintenance lifestyle, including a vegetable and cutting garden, or raised garden beds with the latest blooms looks pretty and can also be practical.

For smaller outdoor spaces, vertical garden ‘living walls’ will offer greenery without overcrowding. Other additions such as a water features invite relaxation and can make the backyard more enjoyable.


Think Child and Pet Friendly

Make your space child and pet-friendly by following local regulations and identifying potential weak spots.

If you have a swimming pool, it’s a legal requirement to have the correct fencing. This is vital for keeping both pets and children safe. Smaller, fenced in zones can provide pets with a designated space to play or dig in, while keeping the rest of the backyard intact.

Be mindful of the plants you choose in your garden. Flower beds, trees and shrubs create a backyard oasis, but may be highly toxic to your pets or children.

Adding walkways will help to guide foot traffic through the garden. However, be careful of your material choices as you’ll want something comfortable for your pet’s paws or barefoot children. Concrete, pebbles, brick or smooth rock are ideal choices.

Styling Synergy

What’s your entertaining style? If you love hosting lazy Sunday lunches with friends and family, then create a dining zone rather than a sofa set-up. If kicking back with a few wines and snacks is more your style, create a relaxed island vibe with cosy throws, a Tiki bar and chairs.

Let the experience you want to create be your guide to achieving the right look.

The backyard space has never been as functional as it is now. How are you shaping it to maximise its benefits?

Author Bio

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who recommends Great Aussie Patios – Perth’s leading patio builders with a cost-effective solution for any outdoor space. You can catch her on Google+.