Take advantage of the fresh air and space outside your home

Style: Whether it's a quiet book and a fire pit or outdoor TV's and sound systems, there are always ways to put your personality into your outdoor area. Photos: Shutterstock.
Style: Whether it's a quiet book and a fire pit or outdoor TV's and sound systems, there are always ways to put your personality into your outdoor area. Photos: Shutterstock.

People are increasingly spending more time living outside the walls of their home and taking full advantage of the beautiful outdoors. Alfresco entertainment areas and outdoor living spaces are not only relatively easy to create, but they can also provide a place for you to relax and catch up with friends, while adding value to your property. People are starting to take their indoor lifestyles outside at a rapid rate, with more space providing home owners more options. According to Domain one in two Australian homeowners use their outdoor space for entertaining, made possible by our favourable climate and generous backyards. 

It is important to plan out the type of area you want first to ensure that you are buying the right materials, furniture and equipment. Like most home improvements, your outdoor living area will greatly depend on your budget, however there are many ideas you can use to create an amazing space. Over 86 per cent of people make structural changes such as building decks, pergolas or terraces, with only 13 per cent of people installing pools. An undercover area is always a great idea, however this does not mean you need a solid roof. Large umbrellas and sails can provide shelter while still allowing a free flowing space, while louvres are becoming increasingly popular as they can be used for walls or roofing, and allow the option of an open air space in good weather or an enclosed area when you need protection from the elements.

When styling your outdoor living area, it should reflect the type of environment you are trying to build, and lighting is a great way to create an atmosphere. When planning your lighting look for soft light options and include solar lights or lights with sensors to help reduce your power bill. Remember to light any pathways or steps and try to include some scented candles which will not only add to your lighting, but also help keep mosquitoes away.

Temperature control is an important thing in the Central and Far West. With our weather ranging from stifling heat in summer through to icy conditions in winter, that shouldn't discourage you from spending time outdoors. Large ceiling fans or mounted pedestal fans are great for creating a cool, cross breeze in summer, while heating can also easily be taken care of. A third of all backyard renovations now include a fire pit which not only provides warmth but creates a great ambiance. If you don't have space to spare, gas heaters are perfect as they can be mounted on a portable stand for use in various areas, or mounted to walls or ceilings. With both natural and bottled gas options available, they are also cost effective.

Gas is also vital for any budding chef with basic barbecues now being replaced by full outdoor kitchens. Brands such as the Ambassador Outdoor Kitchen include a sink which can be hooked up to hot and cold water, fridge, wine cooler, six burner gas cooker and wok, along with plenty of storage. Like heaters they can also be connected to natural gas saving you on replacing bottles.

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Now that your outdoor area is set up and the food is on its way, entertainment becomes the focus. Outdoor entertainment systems are becoming bigger and better with higher quality equipment and better connectivity, allowing people to fully control and personalise their audio visual needs.

Televisions are a great idea for any entertaining area and whether it's watching you're favourite soap over a glass of wine with friends or cheering home your favourite sports team, a quality is a must. Chris Jones from Harvey Norman Electrical, said the key to the best viewing is ensuring you install a model with high level brightness and an anti glare screen. "OLED and QLED models are the best as they're brighter than plasma's and LCD's. Because they produce their own light they have a much wider viewing range than other types of screens".

No area would be complete without music and systems can range from a simple blue tooth speaker, through to a complete wireless system inside and outside your home. Chris said systems like SONOS allow you to add as many speakers as you like to your wireless network, "They allow you to play through one or several speakers while also allowing  'zones', meaning you can have different music playing in different areas at the same time," he said. The advantage of SONOS is that you can get waterproof speakers for outdoors, along with boosters to increase signal strength and cover larger areas.