Topic: Outdoor Living Ideas

Date Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Outdoor living: How to turn your backyard into the perfect relaxing getaway

Outdoor living: How to turn your backyard into the perfect relaxing getaway

Robyn WillisHome Magazine

Timber daybeds designed by Landart are hard-wearing but inviting with the addition of colourful cushions.


WITH the first official weekend of spring upon us, you would think it was high time to start enjoying some quality time outdoors.


It’s true that as the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, we’re keen to spend more time in the fresh air, but for many of us, that starts well before the arrival of spring.

It seems not only have we embraced outdoor living for spring and summer, but we’re looking to make more use of alfresco spaces throughout the year.


National furniture buyer for Bunnings Ben Shanley says outdoor living spaces are continuing to evolve as Australians seek to enjoy our mild climate for most of the year.

“People are looking to prolong the season as the outdoor living concept grows,” he says.

“Outdoor heaters and fireplaces are assisting with that, but so are outdoor blinds where you can seal off your pergola or alfresco area from the colder weather.

“Firepits are also growing in popularity along with chiminea. Anything requiring solid fuel like wood is a popular choice.”

While the idea of the outdoor kitchen has been with us for some time, Ben says outdoor areas are broadening in their uses.

The Smeg outdoor kitchen mirrors the indoor space with island bench and barstools.

“We’re seeing more customers looking for matching (outdoor) lounge and dining settings, where they can come back to us later on and buy the matching dining set or lounge suite rather than buying at the same time,” he says.

Indeed, Landart Landscapes director Matt Leacy says where budget or space doesn’t allow for both, more people are opting a lounge area over a traditional dining suite outside.

“If the space is not there for both dining and lounging, a lot of the time they will vote in favour of the lounge space because they feel they will get more out of it on a day-to-day basis and you can still sit there and eat,” Matt says.

This outdoor setting from Bunnings suits any style of home.


Both he and Ben agree that bar settings are becoming an increasingly popular option, although their reasons differ.

Ben says it’s all about saving space on increasingly smaller blocks, while Matt reasons it just offers more flexible dining choices for small and large groups.

“Rather than the 12-seater table people are turning to breakfast bars attached to the outdoor kitchen,” Matt says.

“Everyone is looking for more casual spaces that they can use in different ways. Where the chef is facing the wall or side boundary, it’s more conversational to have a bar set up so that the person doing the cooking is still part of the party.”

For the serious entertainer, a range of outdoor cooking equipment is available from Bunnings.

Ben says it’s the same reason people are looking for outdoor extension tables.

“We are definitely seeing a trend towards extension tables,” he says. “People want to adapt their space for larger groups when necessary.

“Storage boxes are also big because people need somewhere to put all those cushions.”

Ben says cushions are the easiest way to update outdoor lounge settings when most people are opting for upholstered lounge seats and furniture in neutral tones.

“Everyone is playing it safe with furniture and introducing colour with their accessories,” he says.

Given our harsh conditions, Ben says it pays to choose furniture that will last.

“We are seeing more aluminium settings rather than steel being sold because people now understand that you can leave them outside completely exposed,” he says.

“Powder-coated steel is good but once it is chipped, you are exposing it to rust. Some buyers prefer steel for their balconies, though, because it is less likely to blow away.”

Simple furniture and screening from Bunnings can transform a small outdoor space.


But while most of us might be dreaming of warm days lying around soaking up the sun, the action right now is in the garden.

Kmart bold living range can brighten up an outdoor area without breaking the bank.

“People are starting to get into their gardens with anything associated with plants and garden care selling well,” Ben says.

If you’re considering refreshing the garden for spring, Matt says there’s plenty to do. But while many people like the idea of a flowering garden, most of us are not so keen on the maintenance involved.

“More often than not, low maintenance is the request,” Matt says.

“A lot of people would like a pretty garden with lots of flowers and prettiness is quite on trend at the moment.

“We do it in a more low-maintenance way with textural contrast from the shape of the plant, like grasses, low succulents and ground covers, which work quite well.”


A vertical garden is a space-efficient way to grow herbs and other produce.

Edible gardens are also high on most people’s wish lists, although Matt suggests they are 
not always best placed right in the middle of the garden.

“An edible garden is definitely something people want and they often want a large space dedicated to the herb and vegie garden, but unless you are an avid gardener a lot of the year the vegie patch is either going to be full of weeds or have nothing in it,” he says.

“If you’ve made it a focal point in the backyard, it can look bad.”

He suggests planting perennials like thyme, oregano and rosemary to carry the vegie patch through the year and growing seasonal vegetables at other times.

Pots of annual herbs like parsley, basil and coriander are also an easy option, especially when placed strategically close to the outdoor kitchen.

While Matt says most people are keen to grow their own food for their children’s benefit, there’s nothing nicer than serving homegrown produce to family and friends.

“People recognise, too that home grown produce tastes so much better,” he says.

Beefeater Barbecues offers small and larger models to suit any outdoor space.


Cooking outdoors has so many advantages, from taking the smoke and smells into the fresh air to avoiding heating up the house indoors.

Marketing manager for BeefEater Barbecues Michelle Rossier says outdoor cooking has moved on from a few snags on the barbie.

“We recently did a survey of more than 1200 Australians which showed that more than half are experimenting with gourmet meals,” she says.

Choosing the right barbecue will depend on how often you entertain and how big your space is, but that doesn’t mean you need to compromise.

Even smaller models like the BeefEater BUGG comes with two stainless-steel burners, a grill, two side shelves and a roasting hood.

Shaded alfresco spaces allow your outdoor space to be used more frequently. Furniture and accessories from Bunnings.


When you’re talking about outdoor living in Australia, you can’t ignore shade structures.

Most display builders now design homes with alfresco spaces and, increasingly, these spaces come with the option of a ceiling fan to stop hot air from being trapped when temperatures rise.

But not everyone has the advantage of a fixed roof for their outdoor space.

Ben Shanley from Bunnings says the once ubiquitous market umbrella is on its way out.

“The old-style market umbrella is becoming passe,” Ben says.

“Almost every new house built comes with an alfresco area these days so you don’t need a dining setting with a hole in it for the umbrella anymore.”

Traditional umbrellas are making way for cantilevered options, says Ben, which can be adjusted as the sun moves.

Gazebos are another option, particularly for empty corners of the backyard, that are proving popular.

“With outdoor structures like gazebos, people still like the traditional styles with curtains, but we’re also seeing more demand for modern styles in neutral tones through to charcoals,” says Ben.

For a more permanent but flexible solution, Luxaflex has a wide range of options that can be attached to the side of your home.

The Folding Arm Awnings range has an adjustable pitch to offer more effective protection from the sun as it moves throughout the day, as well as a front rail to allow drainage for water run-off after rain while keeping the area beneath dry.

The Sunrain Awning PVC fabric has also been designed to protect from rain as well as the sun.

There’s even the option of installing a heater to extend use of the space throughout the year.

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