We all love to sit, play and eat outdoors and why not...we live in a country with great weather most of the year! The most desirable and comfortable new homes embrace ‘patio life’ with a seamless flow inside and out: invisible door tracks, alfresco meal prep and room to lounge on practical outdoor seating.
So where to begin? There's so many good options that make decorating inside and out very affordable but don't skimp too much in your alfresco area because exposure to the elements is bound to take it's toll at some stage and you'd rather it be later than sooner.
1) Define your area: It’s best to really think about how you want to use the available space - small balcony will have different considerations to a large patio with an outdoor kitchen, obviously. Define different areas according to how you want the space to be used; rugs under foot where people will be seated, tiles around wet or cooking areas, grass for play or relaxing on the floor. There is merit in decorating consciously to create a space with purpose.
2) Start with a neutral base: Interior designer Dory D’Orazio, from Mr Poppins+Co, suggests you select furniture pieces that are neutral in colour and the best quality you can afford. This way you can redecorate seasonally, or as your tastes change, around core pieces that will last a number of years. Colour is best introduced in the accessories like outdoor cushion covers and throws, floor rugs, occasional tables, planters and lanterns.
3) Inject colour to enhance the space: Colour cues can come from foliage, flowers, pools or other painted surfaces and it can be an idea to echo those established inside your house already to create flow between your indoors and out. A quick visit to Pinterest will throw up loads of colour combinations that work seamlessly in nature if you’re really stumped. A decorative theme is a good start for colour and décor selection. Hamptons, tropical or eclectic boho, for example, will each have style features that can guide your choices. Failing that, pick prints and colours that you love or enhance the mood you want to inspire in that space.
4) Accessorise: Don’t be scared to mix patterns in your soft furnishings and consider linking colours from your interior décor and echo these in your choices outdoors. The trick is to find common colours in different patterns in order to tie them together.
Use scale too – a larger print design with a smaller one is the key to introduce visual relief. If you like the idea of having a completely different vibe in your alfresco area to that indoors, use cushion covers with a bit of personality to invigorate the area.
"The great thing about outdoor cushions is that if the base furniture is neutral in colour, you can change them out every season to suit your mood or décor taste and completely revamp the mood and feel in the space in a cost effective way."
Dory suggests homeowners should select accessories and occasional furniture that add to the functionality of the space;
5) Decorate for the season: Use your outdoor retreat like any other room in the house; tidy it, dust it and protect it from the elements so that it's functional all year round. Consider a gas heater or chiminea for cooler months and perhaps cafe blinds for afternoon sun or inclement weather. If your key furniture items are neutral and built to last, you will have a blank canvas to economically refresh accessories when trends and tastes change.The key is to make your outdoor area a place that appeals to your senses and enhances your mood. It will keep you returning for more!