Simply put, creating good indoor/outdoor flow is about blurring the boundaries between the indoor and outdoor areas of your home.
There are many ways of creating indoor-outdoor flow, including using a similar colour palette and finishes (particularly for flooring); installing bi-fold or French windows so you can transition easily between both zones; creating shade and shelter from the elements to make outdoor living more comfortable; and investing in outdoor furniture, accessories and appliances that will make your outdoor space a pleasure to be in.
As with any kind of renovation project, you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and your budget before starting. When planning your outdoor space consider:
- What do I want to do in this space? Are you planning to cook and eat outside or do you just want a place to relax? If you’re thinking of including an outdoor kitchen, built-in barbeque, pizza oven, water feature, fire pit or movie screen, including it in your plans from the outset will save time and money. This is particularly true for anything that needs plumbing, electricity or gas.
- Do you need to incorporate shade or shelter? If your outdoor area is protected from the elements, whether it is sun, wind or rain, you’re likely to use it more often. There are plenty of options to choose from – including pergolas, gazebos, awnings, sails and umbrellas – depending on your needs and budget.
- Do you need to install, repair, replace or extend a deck? Think about how much decking you need. If you already have enough, consider if it needs repairing, oiling or a fresh coat of stain or paint. Just like the other timber in your home, decking needs to be maintained and looked after.
Wooden decking is probably the most popular option in Australia and is a smart choice if you have timber floors inside your home. Stone or tiles can be another attractive and hardwearing option, particularly for areas that are permanently under cover, providing you choose a slip resistant finish. Whatever your preference, choose a shade similar to your indoor flooring so the two areas blend as seamlessly as possible.
Nielen Prince, renovation specialist at Refresh Renovations, says that if you want to enjoy your outdoor space all year, you need to think about incorporating heating and cooling from the outset.
“Roof mounted patio heaters can be very effective during cool autumn evenings, allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors a little longer. If warm summer days are more of a concern, you could include an outdoor ceiling fan, which will improve airflow and can also compliment the design.”
He believes creating an outdoor space that can be used throughout the year is money well spent.
“By ensuring you plan for year-round use, you are more likely to achieve the greatest value and return from your investment.”
Outdoor lighting should be functional as well as decorative. Landscape lighting is a great way to illuminate the features of your backyard, including plants and trees, paths and seating. There are two main types of garden lighting, solar and 12V, which can be halogen or LED, according to Australian consumer organisation, Choice. Choice advises using solar lights solely for decorative purposes since they are not as effective as 12V options.
If you are planning to create a permanent outdoor structure, then consider installing pendant or recessed lighting that will give you direct or task lighting where you’ll need it most, such as in the kitchen area.
Outdoor kitchens can certainly add that wow factor to a home, but need almost as much planning as the indoor variety. For example, if you want to be able to store, prepare and cook food outside, you need power, water and special outdoor appliances too. You also need shade and/or shelter, plus durable, easy-to-clean surfaces (including flooring) that can withstand the elements. Think carefully about the kind of catering you’ll be doing outdoors and tailor your kitchen plans accordingly. Be prepared for the fact that most outdoor kitchens are best installed by professionals, particularly if gas, electricity and additional plumbing is required.
Good indoor/outdoor flow can certainly make your home more appealing to prospective buyers. An attractive outdoor living area that extends from the main body of the property, helps create the impression of a larger home, offering a desirable lifestyle – and will appeal to many buyers.
The most important thing is that the indoors flows naturally to the outdoors. So bi-fold or French doors that open to the outdoor area should be a priority. Shade, comfortable seating and a dining setting are the next things to consider. If your budget it tight, keep an eye on Gumtree, eBay and Freecycle. Being patient and flexible about what you’re looking for pays dividends when buying second-hand items.
Planning rules and regulations vary from Council to Council, so it’s wise to check with your local renovation specialist before committing to any project.
If you would like to discuss options to renovate your home and/or coordinating indoor/outdoor flow, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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