Homeowners traditionally look to architects, builders and designers to turn their dreams into reality. Given the Australian climate and our enthusiasm to embrace the outdoors, we often call upon these professionals to help us create external living and entertaining areas as an extension to our home.

However creating the perfect outdoor entertaining space can be difficult. While it is relatively simple to make an area look beautiful, maintaining an elegant design while maximising functionality is best left to those in the know.

There are many important factors to consider when you decide to create your own outdoor sanctuary. After all, there is no one particular design that is going to cater to everyone’s needs. Every home is different and individual requirements and tastes need to be embraced by all parties involved in the initial design process.

Is the client looking for somewhere to;

  • Sit and enjoy a lazy Sunday morning coffee
  • Host a large family for weekly dinners
  • Play MasterChef in a well equipped outdoor kitchen

The client’s vision is the most important thing to consider in all of this. A balance needs to be reached where individual style meets practicality and functionality so as the space can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Depending on geographical location this may mean considering the effect cold weather, rainy seasons or extreme humidity may have on this area. An entertaining area the owners love will only be more disappointing when no one can use it! However there are many avenues available that will create a space that can be used year round without compromising design.

While it is relatively simple to make an area look beautiful, maintaining an elegant design while maximising functionality is best left to those in the know.

Shade Systems

A patio that implements strategic use of shade can be enjoyed rain, hail or shine. In saying this, different outdoor designs may require different shade systems. Items to address include whether a large pergola or smaller awning is more appropriate, and whether the system will be used as shade, or to keep weather out.

One practical option for shade is a retractable awning. These offer similar shade and protection as a more traditional pergola while maintaining a modern look. The evaya fabric folding arm awnings do just this. Available in various colours to suit different designs they are made from high quality materials that will last. And for even more convenience these awnings are motorised allowing you to extend or retract them at the push of a button.

Outdoor folding arm awning by evaya

It’s very difficult to complete an outdoor entertaining area without creating shade. Awnings allow designers to complete a look without involving construction.

Furniture & Flooring

With a patio design that is suitable for year-round use and appropriate to the client’s needs, architects and builders then need to consider aspects such as furniture, flooring and weatherproofing. If the space is will be used on a regular basis, we should ensure that the patio itself, as well as the furniture and flooring in the space, are able to withstand any harsh side effects the Australian environment might impose on them.

Wooden materials should have a protective coating, anything made of metal should be protected from rust, and anything on the patio should be heavy enough to prevent it from blowing away! Furthermore, when choosing a flooring option for the patio, one should opt for a porous material so the floor won’t quickly become slippery from rain or spills.

Outdoor decking with pot plants sitting to the left


Finally, lighting is an essential aspect of any outdoor entertaining area. The space should be designed in such a way that lets in plenty of light, but not so much that guests are blinded. This is another useful function that shade systems including rolling blinds can help to remedy if the patio is subject to too much sun exposure.

Outdoor lighting should also be employed in a way that blends with the design. Especially if choosing to use awnings as shade and keeping the area open to the yard, lighting should complement the surrounds rather than appear an afterthought.

Some modern lighting ideas include up-lights and cluster lighting, which casts a soft light that can add shape and depth to the outdoor setting. Different lighting can create mystery, calm or excitement depending on your desire. For more on lighting have a look at these ideas from our friends at Houzz.

Ideas for lighting an outdoor setting

With the Australian climate allowing us to spend large amounts of time outdoors external design continues its trend to becoming an extension of the interior. Creating an outdoor space where families can happily entertain, relax and enjoy without over the top maintenance required is certainly a challenge. However if done right, more often than not it becomes a favourite part of the home.

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