Many people would regard the Australian family home as incomplete without a nice spot outside to entertain, share a meal or just relax. If your home doesn’t have an outdoor blinds area already and you’re thinking about making that home improvement, there are a few things that you should consider.
- Amount of space and layout
The best way to get started is to go outside and look at the where you are thinking of putting your patio, pergola or deck. Think about how much space you have and how much of your back yard you are willing to take up with the new outdoor area. What do you want to use the space for? If it’s just a space to relax and read a book, you may not need to go too big. If you want to entertain you’ll have to account for that when sizing up the area. The size of you need is the first step in the design.
Next, you’ll need to look at where you want the outdoor living area and in what configuration. It doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to the home. Having a free-standing deck or pergola in the backyard has become a popular option. If it is attached to the home, is it going to be parallel to or perpendicular to your house? Do you want access coming from a particular room and if so does a new door need to be built in for it? Do you want roofing or do you enjoy the sunlight? All of these are important questions for the design.
- What elements do you want included?
Designing the outdoor space isn’t just about the size and shape of it. What furnishing and other features do you want included? Do you want a barbeque and if so do you want it built into the space? Will it be an area that needs warming in winter and require gas heating or a fireplace? How much furniture do you want and how much space will it need?
What are the aesthetics of the area? Will you build using timber or steel? Do you want timber decking and what type of timber do you want? If you are having a roof, what style would you prefer, gable, flat or a combination?
Once you have the bulk of your design, you might want to consider where the sun will hit your new outdoor area. As the sun moves across the sky during the day it may dip below the protection of the roof. To combat this and allow you to use the space all day, consider outdoor blinds. Outdoor blinds can be raised and lowered easily as required. Alternatively, you can use plant shrubs and trees as potential shade-casters and complete the feel of the area. You might want the outdoor fun to continue after sunset too. Consider having lighting installed as part of the build. Incorporating the right lights will not only look good, it will stop you from having a portable spotlight shining in somebody’s face.
- Council regulations
Making additions or renovations to your homes exterior may require the approval of your local council. It is important to check with the council before any construction. Fees and approvals can change depending on what area you live in and which council jurisdiction that brings you under. Some structures may not require approval and so, with this in mind, you may want to alter your design. For more information on council approval check out our Free Build Guide.
Most importantly, have a budget and stick to it. When completing the design, you need to know what the budget constraints are. You don’t want to plan an outdoor living area only to find that you can’t afford it. If the design you want is too expensive then you have to decide if you want to sacrifice some of the size or features, or postpone the build to save for what you really want.
- Planning for the future.
Remember when you are planning the new outdoor living space to think about anything else you might want to add in future. While now it might be a patio with a barbeque area, you may want to put a pool in later or a wood fire pizza oven. Remember to include these in plans now so that you won’t have a costly redesign or renovation later.
Designing a new outdoor living area doesn’t have to be difficult. If you stop and think and then plan it out you can end up with your dream space.
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Kevin Pobjie grew up in Sydney and started working in the home improvements industry over 30 years ago. He is married with two children, one boy and one girl, 24 and 20. Kevin started selling awnings, pergolas and sunrooms using Hunter Douglas and Stramit before he started Wizard Home Improvements in Granville in late 2004. He is now licensed by fair-trading to build awnings.