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Outdoor Living

Outdoor Living

Living outside is an essential part of living in North Queensland. Townsville hosts an average of 300 sunny days per year, so it makes sense to live the good life outdoors. I would like to share a few ideas with you about the planning of an outdoor living space. It needs to be designed firstly with functionality in mind and with a connection to your inside living space in such a way that it forms a seamless extension to what is traditionally your lounge, kitchen and dining areas. Most of us would utilise outdoor patios, verandas and decks as dining space so it is important to try to design in a way where the outside interface is in close proximity to the kitchen area.

I will provide a few tips as to how outdoor living is not too dissimilar to that inside your house. This can be achieved by extending the roof line in a way that the ceiling flows from inside to out and if possible by installing large openings like bi-folds and stacker doors to minimise partitioning. You can also arrange the kitchen servery interface and finishing wall space around the deck so it is not too dissimilar to the finish inside your house. If your home is a slab on the ground quite often the floors will continue in the same way with a finish that often reflects inside. Timber is a popular floor finish and also looks good in contrast with internal finishes or if the inside has a timber floor it naturally works very well.

Naturally furniture, furnishings, lighting and fans need to be carefully selected because they are often exposed to the elements. In fact my own home has an outside deck area of approximately 25m2 finished in a similar way to what I have described and if you could imagine walls around a deck area it doesn’t really look any different to the inside of my home.

If a swimming pool is in the brief it is worth thinking about options which can make the most of this space. Particularly if it is a low set home, think about elevating the pool slightly so that the pool becomes an extension of your deck or outside living space. Often swimming pools are well separated from the areas we use most but a well thought out swimming pool, when not in use, can act as an impressive water feature. There are definitely issues to consider with pool safety, fencing and access but clever design can accommodate all of this in a way where your house can be integrated, functional and easy on the eye.

Some sites can be particularly difficult, especially those that are sloping. I often see great properties under-utilised because of what is seemingly redundant area. Sloping sites often mean you are on a hillside with the possibility of a view. So getting the best out of these areas can add significant value to your property, but more important, can offer a great lifestyle opportunity. Sloping blocks can add an interesting dimension to design. For example, elevated timber walkways and platforms can be outstanding features. Although the landscape itself will often dictate the lay-out, good planning at the outset is essential. Elevated platforms are relatively easy to construct and provide a great conduit for services.

Most people shy away from those apparently difficult parts of their property because of cost. Getting machinery, heavy products such as blocks, pavers, steel, concrete etc. on site and excavating can difficult. This style of construction would make it out of reach for many whereas using light weight structures such as treated pine and galvanised stirrups offers a very charming finish at a fraction of the cost.

The beauty of this type of structure is that, if you are a bit handy and like an outdoor project, it is one you could manage yourself and end up with not only a great outdoor living space, but a sense of achievement and no doubt some fun stories to share at the inaugural BBQ.