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Planning the perfect outdoor oasis

26 April 2016

A room without walls is fast becoming a popular concept among homeowners looking to extend the functionality of their outdoor areas beyond the warmer months. Alfresco dining and barbeque areas, large doors and windows, fire pits and private retreats are in hot demand.

The line between a house and the great outdoors is swiftly disappearing. The common backyard, patio and porch have been rezoned as an extension of interior living areas. It’s known as the outdoor room movement and it encapsulates our desire to cook, entertain and relax outdoors all year-round.

Generation Homes’ chief executive Kevin Atkinson says the outdoor room movement is about breaking down conventional barriers to create the illusion of a larger house.

“Home entertainers want to include key features so they can make the most of the outdoors during the winter months, and find clever ways to maximise outdoor living in the summer,” says Kevin.

We are happy to help our customers modify a standard house plan to include features like a partial or covered alfresco entertaining area, outdoor kitchen or barbeque area, as well as other variations such as home entertainment and outdoor heating systems, energy efficient lighting or private relaxation areas in everyday backyards.”

The outdoor room concept is a unique way to stretch a home’s living areas and create multifunctional spaces with seamless indoor-outdoor flow.

Maximising space

Large bifold doors are a classic variation in new home buildsInnovations in design technology allow residential home builders to construct larger windows and doors than ever before, and versatile building materials (used for flooring and cladding), are successfully merging the interior and exterior elements of a home.

“Good indoor-outdoor flow is very appealing to home buyers, particularly with the popularity of subdivisions and nation-wide home building trends moving toward smaller homes,” says Kevin.

Large bifold doors are a classic variation in new home builds but consumer trends forecast increasing demand for exterior sliding pocket doors.

Exterior sliding pocket doors are a breath-taking addition to any new home. The intricate system slides into the wall cavity and is completely hidden from view, providing a seamless transition from the indoors to the outdoors. The sliding doors restore floor and wall space that would usually be occupied by a door’s swing.

The system is commonly used to link the open plan living and dining concept with an alfresco dining area or patio. Glass sliding doors are a great way to divide interior and exterior spaces while maximising natural light in modern and contemporary homes. 

Private retreats

People are getting creative with outdoor spaces in a bid to bring traditional ‘indoor’ comforts out onto a deck, porch or patio. Exterior features including day beds, built-in lounges with upholstered cushions, high top bar leaners and hammocks are all about creating the perfect outdoor retreat whether you’re relaxing with a book or entertaining friends and family.

The key to making an outdoor zone truly feel like just another room of the house is to outfit the space with decorative furnishings and accessories made from weather-resistant materials. Add colour and style with beautiful plants, artwork, rugs and accessories. Privacy in outdoor spaces can be easily achieved by screening with a trellis, pergola, living wall or carefully placed trees.

Heating and lighting

Heating plays a big part in ensuring outdoor rooms can be used all year-round. Fire pits and built-in fire places anchor an Flare Fires Outdoor Fireplacesoutdoor space, providing a beautiful focal point and natural gathering spot when entertaining. 

Generation Homes is experiencing increased demand for outdoor fire features, particularly in the South Island.

“Outdoor wood and gas log fires, and portable fire pits add a natural ambience to outdoor spaces while also providing sufficient light and heat so home owners can use the space at night and through the winter months,” Kevin says.

Infrared or radiant energy is another practical way to add warmth to large outdoor settings where heated air cannot be easily contained or recirculated. Infrared heaters can be directed onto seating areas or elements can be built into the ceiling, heating from above. The elements emit a safe, clean wavelength of light that will not affect the ambience of an outdoor space. 

Lighting has the power to transform a space and it’s an essential part of outdoor entertaining. Spot lights can be used to create accent outdoor features, while LED strip lighting can enhance the practicality of outdoor kitchens and barbeque areas. Adding lights with dimming features improves the functionality of outdoor spaces, giving home owners full control when setting the mood in an outdoor space.