How to make the most of a small outdoor area

How to make the most of a small outdoor area – Small outdoor spaces can sometimes be a challenge to design and decorate. Too many colours and patterns can feel busy and too much furniture can feel chaotic. Choosing the right furniture, décor, colours and patterns can all help to create the illusion of more space. Whether you’re designing a small terrace balcony, an apartment patio or a city living rooftop, all have the ability to look larger than what they truly are with these few handy tips. With the help of these few tips and tricks we hope you too can create an outdoor space that 1. Looks larger than what it truly is and 2. One that reflects your personality and you can enjoy for many years to come.

Space:

Firstly consider the space you have to work with. Have a walk around and access your outdoor area. As you walk around and design your space consider any existing structures such as doors, walls or garden beds as they will play a part in how your space will look.

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Image via Pinterest

Furniture:

Furniture that folds or stacks tends to work quite well in smaller spaces such as apartments or town houses where space may be limited. Multi-functional outdoor furniture pieces are also a smart idea, for example a cushion box can double as a bench seat. Outdoor Living Direct have a variety of small balcony pieces ideal for areas where space may be limited.

Choose a focal point:

Avoid cluttering a small space with too many pieces of furniture/décor/accessories and instead start with a focal point that will be the main point of attention. Build around this focal point, adding in necessary accessories where needed. These added extras shouldn’t compete with the focal point, instead enhance the overall look of your space. Too much clutter can feel like the space is closing in on you so less is more when it comes to styling a smaller outdoor area.

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Image via Pinterest

Vertical lines:

Vertical lines also help to give the impression of more space. Tall pieces of art, slender trees or vertical gardens are all great inclusions. If floor space is limited why not take advantage of the wall space and hang some shelves for extra storage.

Colours and patterns:

Avoid dark colours and busy patterns as they can confine a space and create the unwanted feeling of closure. Instead opt for lighter colours and subtle patterns that will create a bright and airy feel.

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Image via Pinterest

Lighting:

A small outdoor area with poor lighting will feel claustrophobic. Instead, choose lights that will bounce off the walls and visually make the space larger. Candles are another low maintenance lighting option for smaller spaces. They don’t take up a lot of room, yet they produce beautiful mood lighting for any occasion. A mirror is another great trick. It will reflect natural light and create the illusion of a deeper space.

When it comes to designing and decorating a small space it’s all about tricking the eye into believing that the space is much larger than how it actually appears. Applying these few tips and tricks will help you to create the illusion of more space and make the most of your outdoor area.

A guide to creating and maintaining the perfect outdoor entertaining area

Outdoor planning – a guide to creating and maintaining the perfect outdoor entertaining area.

Before you get started on designing your outdoor area, think about how you plan to use your space and consider the key things you want in it. This handy article will guide you through the different steps involved in creating and maintaining the perfect outdoor entertaining area.

Outdoor considerations

Ask yourself ‘what will this area be used for?’ Do you intend to create a relaxing space to sit back and unwind or to you intend to use the space for entertaining family and friends? Consider how much space you have to work with and if need be create different zones within the area. If you plan to build a deck or a pool consider their location in comparison to your house and the rest of your outdoor space.

Budget is another very important factor. How much money do you have to work with? Create a list of what you intend to do outside and factor in the cost for each. Sticking to a budget is important and will ensure your project runs smoothly and effortlessly.

Style is another important consideration. What will your area look like? What colours will you use? Will you continue your internal house colours outside creating a natural flow from the inside out? What is your personal style? What do you like and dislike? All of these questions will determine the look and feel of your space and will help when it comes making important design and style decisions.

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Image via Pinterest

Also ask yourself who will be using the area? Adults, kids, both? Will it be a space for entertaining? Will it be a space for relaxing? And will there be different zones for the adults and the kids? If kids will be using the space it’s important to consider safety factors at this point of the planning stage. If you intend to install a pool for example ensure you adhere to the safety guidelines when it comes to fencing. If your plan is to build a deck ensure you have adequate railing and all safety guidelines are met.

Choosing outdoor furniture

Similar to planning your outdoor area, there are many considerations when it comes to choosing outdoor furniture.

Firstly consider the area in which the furniture will sit. A lot of these decisions will be made in the planning stage. Do you have a covered area or is it exposed? How much space do you have to work with? What type of flooring will the furniture be sitting on? All of these questions will determine what type of furniture will best fit your space.

Following on from area, consider the type of furniture you would like, that would suit your area best and that would fit the purpose of your space. Is it a lounge, modular or occasional, a dining set, a sunlounge, a day bed or an umbrella that you’re after? The purpose of your space will determine the type of furniture.

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Image via Pinterest

Choose materials that will stand up to the elements in which you live and that will be suitable for your space. If your area is exposed we recommend to avoid timber as timber requires a covered area with minimal sun exposure. If you do intend to purchase timber and you do have an exposed area consider a waterproof outdoor cover to protect the timber from the elements. Aluminium and rattan are both durable materials suitable for outdoor use. Both are low maintenance materials, ideal for all types of areas. Similar to timber though we do recommend covering your furniture, even if it is undercover to protect it from dirt, dust and insects. There are also various fabric options, so it’s best to look for fabric that’s been UV treated. This generally means it’s ideal for outdoor use. However similar to the framework of outdoor furniture we recommend covering cushions or bringing them inside when not in use to prolong the life of the fabric. For more information on how to care for outdoor furniture click here.

When choosing outdoor furniture it’s also important to consider colours. Choose colours that you personally like and ones that will tie in with your existing house colour scheme. Colours can calm, stimulate and energise us and have a powerful impact on how we’re feeling so be mindful in choosing a colour scheme that you’ll be comfortable with for many years to come.

The ‘try before you buy’ motto will always be a good indication as to whether the comfort levels are up to standard. Trying before you buy will ensure comfort levels are met and you will enjoy your setting for many years to come. Outdoor Living Direct have 2 Melbourne showrooms where you can ‘try before you buy’. You can visit us at either 337 Warrigal Road Cheltenham VIC or 283 Old Geelong Road Hoppers Crossing VIC. If you’re unable to pop in-store and would prefer to purchase online ensure you look for clear product photos that show details such as cushion height, cushion quality, rattan type, colour and overall look.

Invest in quality. As the old saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’. Shop with care and do your research into varying outdoor furniture materials, processes, styles and comfort levels before making your decision.

Determine your budget before venturing into the outdoor furniture world. Your budget will determine what you can and can’t afford, as there are varying pricing levels and standards when it comes to purchasing outdoor furniture.

Consider storage during the cooler months. Do you have a place to store your outdoor furniture if need be? Outdoor furniture will last much longer if stored away or covered during the winter months.

Caring and maintaining should also be considered. Ask yourself, ‘how much time am I willing to spend maintaining my outdoor furniture?’ Depending on your answer, the material(s), environment and the set itself will determine how much or how little care is required. Most shoppers prefer low maintenance furniture so they can spend their time enjoying their new set as opposed to maintaining it. For low maintenance furniture options check out Outdoor Living Direct online.

Maintaining outdoor furniture

Rattan care guide:

1. Brush down the rattan using a soft brush to remove any loose dirt or dust.

2. Wipe down the rattan using a damp cloth and mild, soapy water. Avoid chemical products.

3. A soft bristled brush can be used at this step to remove any tough or dried on dirt.

4. Rinse off the soap using a bucket of warm water.

5. Dry using a clean cloth.

6. Sit back, relax and enjoy your clean outdoor furniture!

Timber care guide:

1. Once purchased, unpack your timber furniture from its original packaging.

2. Assemble your furniture (if need be).

3. Once assembled, wipe down your furniture using a soft brush to remove any dirt or dust particles.

4. Lightly oil with a quality outdoor timber oil. The number of coats you apply will determine how light or dark you’d prefer.

5. Repeat the oiling process regularly (we recommend every 6 months) to maintain the quality of the timber and it’s golden, honey colour. Depending on your environment this process may be undertaken more often.

Cushion care guide:

Generally most outdoor fabrics are both UV treated and weather resistant. However if exposed to the sun these fabrics will fade and deteriorate over time. Australia has a harsh UV climate and fabrics will most often than not fade quite rapidly. Accordingly, it is most important to keep cushions inside when they are not being used, or ensure they are covered with a waterproof outdoor furniture cover.

For more great tips and ideas check out Outdoor Living Direct online.

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Beat the winter chill

With winter well and truly upon us, now’s the time to beat the winter chill and keep warm with the latest outdoor heating trend – the fire pit. Fire pits are a great idea, providing warmth and allowing you to enjoy your outdoor area even in the cooler months. They’re a safe and practical outdoor heating solution keeping a fire controlled in one single area, that being the ‘pit’ or the ‘bowl’.

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Image via Pinterest

Fire pits also come with many benefits. They allow you to enjoy your outdoor area all year long, especially on those chilly winter days when all you want to do is stay warm and toasty. They’re also suitable to warm a large group of people, making them ideal for gatherings, parties and entertaining. And they’re great for toasting marshmallows or enjoying warm, winter comfort meals with family and friends.

Fire pits also provide a calming ambiance and are perfect for relaxing outdoors, either on your own or with company.

There are also a couple of points to consider when finding the right fire pit for you.

Budget

Firstly it’s important to consider your budget and how much money you have to spend on a fire pit. There are many varieties on the market so knowing how much you have to spend will narrow your choice and make shopping for one a little easier.

Permanent vs portable?

Ask yourself this question, as your answer will determine the look and feel for your fire pit. Would you prefer a built in, permanent fire pit or would a portable option suit you better?

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Built in fire pit – Image via Pinterest
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Portable fire pit – Image via Pinterest

Materials

There’s a variety of materials to choose from when it comes to selecting a fire pit. Choose from copper, concrete, stainless steel, clay or cast iron, depending on the look you want to achieve. All of these materials do a similar job in radiating heat. Copper and stainless steel bowls are usually lighter, however you may prefer a heavier material such as clay or cast iron. Also consider your existing outdoor decor and house colours as this will help determine the types of materials and colours your fire pit should be.

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Cast iron ‘bowl’ shaped fire pit – Image via Pinterest

Style

Similar to choosing materials when it comes to selecting a fire pit design it’s best to consider your existing outdoor decor and choose a design that will match in with that. Whether it be the classic bowl shaped fire pit, or a fire pit table or even a chiminea style the possibilities are endless.

The classic bowl shaped fire pit is both modern and contemporary and is sure to complement existing outdoor decor. Bowls are popular in the market because of their shape and their ability to radiate heat evenly. Fire pit bowls come in a range of materials and sizes and can either be used in a permanent situation or moved around if need be.

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Concrete ‘bowl’ style fire pit – Image via Pinterest

Fire pit tables are generally the same height as a standard coffee table and come in a variety of materials and colours. Many of these tables come complete with a ledge providing a safety area for children as well as a handy area for resting your drink or a plate of food.

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Fire table – Image via Pinterest

The chiminea style is an enclosed fire pit generally made from clay. As it’s name suggest it works like a chimney, capturing the heat within the walls and then letting it out the top like a funnel. Chimineas come in a range of shapes and sizes and are ideal for creating a focal point on a deck or patio area.

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Chiminea – Image via Pinterest

So, if you take the above points into consideration when choosing a fire pit, you’ll be on the right track to ensuring your winter stays warm and toasty!