7 tips for creating the ultimate outdoor entertaining area

8th September 2023

Display Homes Design Tips & Tricks

Outdoor living all year round

The modern outdoor entertaining area is perfectly positioned to celebrate the outdoors and integrate the indoor dining and living areas of your home.

And if you plan it right, the lure of venturing out to the backyard living space can continue in both the warmer and cooler months.

Henley's professional Landscape Architect, Cameron Fordred says today's outdoor living areas feature an abundance of style and functionality.

"An entertaining area is an ideal place for family gatherings or a perfect space for guests to unwind and relax, regardless of the season," he says.

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Ideas for outdoor entertaining areas

Australians have always been lovers of the outdoors. Our climate offers the perfect setting for indoor/outdoor socialising and outdoor entertainment.

While design trends change, incorporating key features into your outdoor areas means you can embrace the outdoors and create a relaxing backyard space for many years to come.

So, what makes the ideal outdoor entertaining area?

1. Plants and greenery for privacy

Turn your outdoor space or undercover outdoor area into a private paradise with potted plants or gardens. Plants will protect the space from the weather and provide privacy.

"Plants are like nature's versatile superheroes, serving as green screens, windbreaks and providers of shade. Not only do they add a touch of tranquillity but they can also boost your mood. Plus, they enhance the view from the inside looking out," says Cameron.

When it comes to setting up privacy plants on a balcony or alfresco area, there are a couple of factors to keep in mind.

Select large and sturdy containers or pot plants that won't tip over or get blown away by the wind. Also, choose plants that can thrive in the available sunlight, matching their care needs.

By making smart decisions about which plants to use as privacy screens, you'll give them the best chance of thriving.

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2. Furniture and dining comforts

When selecting furniture for your outdoor entertainment space, ensure it is designed for outdoor use. Keeping your outdoor furniture protected against the elements will ensure it stays in great condition for many years to come.

“If your furniture is not kept undercover, the best way to keep it safe from weathering and discolouration is with a heavy-duty cover when it's not in use," says Cameron.

“With a wide range of covers available to suit outdoor lounges and dining settings, there is bound to be one to keep you covered!”

While outdoor furniture is made for the elements, it’s important to follow the care instructions.

"Try protecting your furniture with an external grade protectant spray like Scotchgard Outdoor Fabric Protector. It protects furniture from water damage and makes clean-up easier and quicker when accidents occur,” explains Cameron.


3. Heating and cooling

Depending on where you are in Australia, consider appropriate heating and cooling for your outdoor living area.

If you're gearing up to spend the majority of your summer in the great outdoors, just having a roof over your outdoor area may not cut it if you want to stay cool.

For the ultimate cool space, install a ceiling fan and functional flooring. A ceiling fan won't magically drop the temperature of your outdoor area but it will circulate the air, making the space feel cooler.

A concrete floor absorbs less heat and adds a cooler touch underfoot, reducing the overall ambient temperature.

"In terms of heating, there are options to ensure everyone stays warm. Outdoor heaters range from the freestanding patio heater or small tabletop unit to the larger wood-burning fireplace or fire pit,” Cameron says.

“Ceiling-mounted radiant electric heaters are also a great option for a covered area. Their subtle and sleek design means they can be placed directly above your entertaining space."

If toasting marshmallows over a crackling fire is your style, you can't go past a wood-burning cast iron fire pit or bowl. These bowls come in a range of sizes and designs.

4. Lighting is key

Never underestimate the power of exterior lighting to shape the ambience of your outdoor entertaining area. The right outdoor lighting can work wonders in setting the mood and creating your desired atmosphere.

First off, consider the colour temperature of the lights. Warm lighting, with its reddish or yellowish glow, creates a comforting and cosy space.

On the flip side, cooler lighting with a white or blue cast, resembling daylight, can infuse a lively vibe into the surroundings.

Having flexibility in your outdoor lighting is key. Opting for dimmable lights allows you to adapt to the ever-changing natural lighting conditions.

This means you can dial down the intensity for relaxed nights or crank up the brightness when for group gatherings, ensuring everyone can see their plates and navigate the space easily.

The right exterior lighting has the power to transform your outdoor entertaining. So, take the time to carefully plan and select the lighting options that best suit your style and needs.


5. Sizzle on the BBQ

Who doesn't love a BBQ? In Australia, the BBQ is more than just a part of our cooking and dining experience; it's part of our culture.

Live your best life outdoors with a fully integrated outdoor kitchen. Keep it simple or go all out with a BBQ, side burners, fridge, drawers and cabinets. State-of-the-art materials and technology allow for easy year-round entertaining.

Consider installing a BBQ or that little slice of Italy with a pizza oven. Built-in, compact, freestanding, portable; the options are endless.

Why not try the latest craze? Meat smokers are perfect for these cold winter days. Choose from offset, drum, cabinet and egg. Fuel options include gas, electric, pellet or solid fuels.


6. Hot on trend

“Making waves in the backyard at the moment are hanging chairs, bean bags and industrial finish cement tabletops," shares Cameron.

These on-trend table tops feature powder-coated aluminium frames and hardwood tops. They're 100% UV resistant, waterproof and boast modern colour combinations, including Matte White and Gun Metal Grey.

"Keep an eye on interior design and landscaping trends for design ideas for your outdoor entertaining area. Simple items such as bean bags, outdoor cushions, throws and table decorations can really bring your space to life," Cameron says.


7. Create versatile indoor and outdoor rooms with blinds and shutters

Outdoor blinds, shades or shutters offer more than shade and protection. They have the power to elevate your outdoor entertaining area while boosting the visual appeal of your property.

Adding roller blinds or shutters can completely transform the atmosphere. Say goodbye to insects, dust and unpredictable weather events impacting your BBQ plans!

The installation of outdoor roller blinds quickly transforms an outdoor space into an outdoor-indoor room that’s protected from the elements.

With this simple addition, you'll have an entertaining area that remains functional and enjoyable all year round.


Mistakes to avoid

Too much clutter

Try not to clutter the space. You may feel the need to have a table and outdoor seating but too much furniture in the backyard seating area can feel tight and uninviting. Ideally, your outdoor space needs to be tidy and easily accessible.

Poor furniture choice

“Go for a larger table with plenty of seating, ensuring everyone feels comfortable. Avoid using indoor furniture outdoors and pay attention to quality so that the furniture you choose lasts the distance," says Cameron.

Not considering the natural lighting

Australia is known for its hot and dry summers. The last thing you want is for the sun to beat directly onto your entertaining area during the hottest days.

Consider the lighting and sun position during each season. Plan your outdoor entertaining area to maximise warmth in winter and allow cool breezes in summer.

Discover your dream outdoor entertaining area with Henley Homes

Whether you know exactly what you’re after or need expert guidance, the team at Henley Homes is here to help you design your ideal outdoor entertaining area.

Check out the Henley Homes Visualiser Tool to create your signature look.

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