Monthly Archives: March 2015

Creating outdoor living spaces on a budget

Creating outdoor living spaces is as limited as your imagination…and your budget. The nice part about creating outdoor living spaces is that you don’t have to do it all at one time-consider it a work in progress and add to it, change it, move it around. Whatever it takes to make your Feng Shui work!


Check it out!

One of the best ways to start creating outdoor living spaces is to study your area and see what works best. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a pool?
  • Does your land slope?
  • Are there big potholes that will need to be filled?
  • Are there a lot of trees?
    – Which ones need to go?
    – Which ones will you keep?
    – What will you do with the ones you keep?
  • Will your outdoor living area be completely enclosed? Covered? Open?
  • Where is the shadiest part of the yard?

As you can see, there are many more questions along this line that you will need to consider before you can begin designing your outdoor living area. However, don’t limit yourself. Your outdoor living area does not need to be confined to one spot. You can create several areas that are connected with pathways, gardens, pergolas, arches, etc.

To the drawing board!

Now that you’ve had time to look things over, it’s time to take some measurements. If you don’t have a solid idea of what it is you would like to do with your outdoor living area(s), visit some of your local home improvement centres and get some ideas, prices etc. Go online and search for garden ideas/outdoor living spaces as well as the type of outdoor furniture you may consider. Your home improvement centres carry’s books and magazines with lots of ideas. Take a few home with you and cut out the pages that really appeal to you. Check out some of the outdoor area rugs, oversized umbrellas, outdoor kitchen equipment and start picturing in your mind how you want your Garden of Eden to look when you are done.

Once you have the measurements, transfer that information to paper or download some free garden and outdoor living area software to help you design the perfect layout. After these tasks have been completed, some new questions may arise:

  • Do you want a covered outdoor living area?
  • What style should I have? Shabby Chic, Modernistic, Contemporary, Traditional, Retro, Nostalgic?
  • Do you want an outdoor kitchen area?
    – If so, what appliances do you think you would like to have?
  • Will you have an outdoor fireplace?
    – What materials do you want your fireplace to be? Brick, stone, steel?
  • Do you want a water feature?
  • Do you want a lot of flower beds? A small vegetable garden?
  • Will you have a formal eating area or just a bar & barstools overlooking your outdoor kitchen?
  • What types of floors will you have? Concrete, wood, flagstone, fieldstone?
  • Will you have area rugs defining the different sitting and eating areas?
  • Will you have an outdoor entertainment centre?

Here again, as you can see, planning and making some important choices will make a difference in your final design, the cost and the materials that will be necessary. Whether you are a do –it-yourselfer or not, having things planned out will help you talk with an outdoor living area designer/architect and will save a lot of money.

Decorating on a shoestring budget

Decorating your new outdoor living area is all about expressing who you are. If you like bright colours, choose to use these. Visit garage sales on the weekend and pick up some easy-to-restore pieces of furniture and accent pieces. Re-covering these little gems takes no time at all. Paint them, stain them, and express your style. But most importantly, enjoy yourself!


For a do it yourself dining set, shabby chic is currently trending. An old dining table painted in light, earthy tones, along with 4 non-matching chairs will create a look that’s not only on trend but one that will create a very casual, airy feel to your outdoor living space.


If you have a pool and dripping water is of concern, be sure you have some water-resistant fabrics as well as water-resistant paint or stain on your furniture. You can have a lot of fun decorating outdoor living areas.

Final touches

Op shops, hard rubbish collections and garage sales will become your favourite haunts. Strawberry baskets with silk plants, brass spittoons, umbrella stands, hall trees, decorative flower pots with ivy, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating and accessorizing. If you prefer live plants, be sure to mix things up – get some tall planters, short planters, wide ones, narrow ones, and wild coloured ones. Your family and friends will love your panache for colour and design!

When visiting yard sales or thrift stores, remember: don’t go in with any ideas or expectations. Instead, look around at all of the pieces and accessories they have and try to visualise them in your new outdoor living space. Look at your choices from all angles and think about whether the items make you feel good.

Creating the perfect outdoor living area is all about creating the perfect place where you, your family and your friends can gather, relax and feel good about sharing time together as well as good food, good laughs, and good company.


Using the colour wheel as a guide to styling your outdoor space.

Using the colour wheel as a guide to styling your outdoor space.

When you’re decorating or re-decorating, choosing a colour scheme can be a daunting task. It’s hard enough choosing a couple of colours, let alone having to mix and match even more of them into an eye-pleasing look and feel.

There are many theories as to why certain colours work and certain colours don’t work. One great tool to determine what will look good is the renowned colour wheel.

The colour wheel has been a highly regarded tool amongst designers, artists, decorators and the like for hundreds of years. In 1666 Sir Isaac Newton performed an experiment which showed that pure white light is composed of rays of different colours of light. By placing a prism in front of a ray of white light, he split the light into its component colours, and as a result created the world’s first colour wheel. Since then many colour experimentations have taken place, as a result of mixing and matching colours using the colour wheel theories.

The wheel is broken up into twelve segments to show the relationship between different colours. These twelve segments are then broken into three categories – primary colours, secondary colours and tertiary colours. Primary colours are red, blue and yellow. These are considered the base colours. You can’t create them from other colours, yet all other colours can be created using them. Secondary colours are orange, green and violet. The secondary colour segments are placed on the wheel between the primary colours; they are created when two primary colours are combined. Tertiary colours are then created by mixing a primary colour with a secondary colour next to it on the colour wheel.

When it comes to styling your outdoor area the colour wheel is sure to become your very best friend. The colour wheel helps you mix colours to create palettes and colour schemes that work best for you. A basic colour scheme uses two colours that look good together. A more advanced colour scheme uses several colours that all work well together to create a unified look and feel. Colour schemes can also be created by layering similar tones and shades of a single colour: this is known as monochromatic scheme.

Colours that are used side by side on the wheel, such as orange, yellow and green create analogous schemes. These schemes create contrast and bring colours to life. To create a vivid contrast of colour choose colours that are evenly spaced on the wheel. Such as blue-green, red-violet or yellow-orange. For maximum contrast and energy why not mix two colours that are opposite one another on the wheel for example blue-orange or red-green or violet-yellow. These types of schemes are known as complementary schemes; they give an instant “wow” effect to any room within your home.

The below image from Sydney Heaters and Pizza Ovens is a fine example of a monochromatic colour scheme. By layering similar hues such as black, grey, silver and brown a space has been created that’s modern, sleek and stylish. As well as showing a monochromatic colour scheme this area also shows a complementary colour scheme. The green foliage complements the darker hues providing the space with an instant pop of colour.

Sydney Heaters & Pizza Ovens 3

Another point to make note of are neutral colours. These types of colours such a beige, cream, white or grey work well as a base to then layer and play with colour. Paula Shuggi, product manager at Boral Masonry quotes “As with interiors, the base colour of an outdoor area is important in creating the overall look and feel of the space. A neutral base can help balance the geometric art patterns and green, blue and orchid shades that will prove popular for outdoor accessories this year”.

Shuggi also suggests using your styling and colour elements inside the home as a guide to styling and colouring the outside. “Extending the design elements of indoor spaces to the outdoors creates a seamless flow. If space is limited, lighter pavers in cream and stone can make the space appear larger. For those looking to make a strong statement, darker colour pavers are ideal for offsetting bold and bright colours,” said Shuggi.

Jessica Fell

Adbri Masonry is a concrete paver manufacturer and supplier, who along with Boral, strongly believes in using neutral colours as a base when styling an outdoor space. They believe that by using these types of colours helps to create a space appear larger than it actually is. They’re most recent project incorporates this theory. The below image shows a small patio-like area. By using large, square, cream pavers this small space has instantly been turned into an area that appears larger than it actually is. The timber bench tops, tall palm trees and splashes of red break up the neutral palette and help create an inviting space with character and warmth.

Emily Kennedy

Colours can also be used to create a mood within a space. Greens tends to soothe and calm, whilst yellows are bold and energetic. Reds are passionate, oranges are warm and purples can be seen as spiritual or even royal. There are also warm and cool colour categories. Warm colours are colours such as yellow, orange and red, whereas cool colours are blue, green and purple. When decorating a space it’s important not to over-do either warm or cool colours. Generally if you focus on one, say warm tones and then add splashes of cooler tones, this will create a space that’s both dynamic and well contrasted.

The following garden design by students at the Ryde school of Horticulture demonstrates the relationship between warm and cool tones.


Majority of this design shows quite cool tones through the use of the grey feature wall and astro turf, however splashes of warm tones have been added to create an area that’s both visually dynamic and pleasing to the eye. The large yellow circle becomes the focus on what is a stylish, modern area.

Colour is also a great way to express how you feel or to portray a personality or lifestyle.

We were approached by David, who sent through some photos of his current outdoor area. David lives in an old brick home with an outdoor area that needs a bit of lovin’! Currently David spends most of his time working from his studio at the back of the property. David has clients come and go all day and he would love for them to be greeted with a more appealing entrance than what is currently there.

david 1

The car port is situated at the front of the home. To get to the studio, one must walk through the carport up a step into the outdoor area. The current step is simply a few bricks topped with a drainage system. The outdoor area is quite small and shielded with a large green hedge on the left hand side. There is no grass, only a patch of dirt and a concrete path which is lifting in certain areas.

david 3

Closer to the back of the outdoor area, near the studio entrance is a patch of grass with a few plants growing. A deck has then been built which has a couple of steps leading up to the studio door. The deck is quite weathered and grey looking. To the right of the deck is a clothes line and surf board rack which David and his family use on a regular basis.

david 2

David approached us asking if we could provide him with some advice and suggestions on how to re-model this space. As this article is based around colour, we’re going to focus on that aspect of the re-design. As mentioned earlier David runs a small business from his studio at home. He has clients come and go and a bright, welcoming entrance through the car port is a must. A new path lined with some bright coloured plants would really liven the space and create an inviting entrance. As the space is rather small, large, neutral coloured pavers or stepping stones could be used to create an illusion of space. Another way of brightening the entrance from the car port could be to lay astro turf over the current area of dirt. The bright green astro turf alongside a newly concreted or paved path would add an instant wow effect and create a visually pleasing, contrasted look and feel! The weathered deck simply needs an oil and it too will be provided with a much need face lift.

In terms of outdoor furniture perhaps a few of Outdoor Living Direct’s tropical coloured pieces from the Acapulco replica range will fit this space nicely. Even a Sarani hammock chair would look great up on the deck for David to enjoy in between client meetings.



Colour matters a great deal: whether we are aware of it or not, the colours we see influence many of the choices we make as we go through life, whether crucial or trivial. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine – create a space that truly reflects you. Be confident and bold in your choices. We’re sure you will create a space that not only reflects you, but will be enjoyed for many years to come.