With our temperate climate, mild evenings, long twilights, quiet nights and breathtaking scenery, outdoor living plays a big part in the life of most Tasmanians. In almost every new home we build, our designers work with clients to explore creative ways of blending the indoors and outdoors, providing a lifestyle destination without even leaving your property. From secluded private decks complete with spas and rural vistas, to expansive decks with glass balustrades and panoramic ocean views, every outdoor area is as unique as the homes we build and the clients we build for. Get it right, and you won’t even want to dine away from home– after all ‘staying in is the new going out!’
With summer finally upon us, we take a few minutes to reflect on some of our favourite iconic, innovative and incredible outdoor living areas that we have created..
The traditional wrap around ‘true blue homestead’ verandah (after all, what’s an Australian farm house without one of these?)
This would have to be the most popular style of outdoor living in rural Tasmania. The wrap around verandah connects your front door, living room doors (think colonial French doors) and your laundry door in one practical, stylish and all embracive solution. The wrap around verandah provides multiple locations around your home, so you can follow the sun all day, and always find a spot to shelter from the prevailing weather. Consider expanding a section of the verandah so it is wide enough for a sit up table if you want some outside dining space. At the laundry end of the home, the verandah provides a place for boots, jackets and tools at the end of the work day – you could partly enclose a section of verandah here to provide maximum protection from the elements. Exposed rafters provide a true traditional style, but lining the rafters does reduce the temptation for birdlife to roost under your roof. Complete the look with a traditional timber balustrade, double verandah posts, and decorative post trims
Furnishing tips for a wrap-around verandah – Wicker style furniture looks great in a traditional setting of a wide verandah. Coach lights strategically mounted around your home will complete the traditional look. And every wrap around verandah needs a swing lounge somewhere for lazy afternoons overlooking the surrounding paddocks. Crisp white or neutrals are good colours depending on your cladding colour. Finally, consider buying some good quality storage furniture that tones in with your décor and mounting some jacket hooks at the back door, to keep your verandah looking sensational all the time
The ‘chill out in the spa’ deck (for when you need to clear your head and seriously de-stress)
Head spinning? Muscles aching? Joints stiff? Just generally over it? Fill up the spa, switch on the pumps, set your temperature, jump in and chill out!
An outdoor spa is instant therapy for anyone that feels like they need a break from life. Imagine the gentle breeze skimming across the river, through the tree tops, and filling your sense as you gaze dreamily out from your secluded private spa deck. In case you need any extra de-stress, a bottle of bubbly should be close at hand.
There are a few practical considerations – a spa load of water is real heavy, so the footings need to be designed accordingly. And if the spa deck is connected to a larger decking area you may need to consider some sort of pool fence for childrens safety. The best advice is to plan it well from the start if you are wanting to include a spa or jacuzzi in your outdoor living area
Furnishing tips for a spa or jacuzzi deck – natural colours and materials like timber and stone all work together to soothe your worn out senses back into perspective. Furnish your spa deck minimally, as clutter will take away from the real reason you are there, but make sure you consider the essentials – benches for towels, some laid back chairs or chaise style lounges to relax on, and a few small tables for snacks and wine glasses
The ‘really big party’ deck (this is going to be seriously good, and seriously loud, come New Years Eve)
If you’re the sort of person that loves to entertain loads of people, you probably need loads of space. Your imagination (and maybe your bank manager) is the only limit on the size of deck we can build. A big deck deserves big doors, so that the loads of people can transition easily from space to space. Make sure you have power points in all the right places, so you can get the music pumping and the discos lights flashing. When designing, think about whether you want your visitors accessing your deck directly from outside, or whether you want to bring them through you home. Think too about how close it is to the kids bedrooms if you like the little ones heading off to bed early. Good access for the kitchen area is usually important, to allow for efficiently feeding the hungry multitude (and for easy access to the fridge to avoid riots).
If you are considering a roof over the deck, explore some of the translucent roofing options that are available, as a large deck with a solid roof can seriously cut back the amount of natural light you will receive in your home. Finally, don’t forget to consider your neighbours if they are nearby – you might need some privacy screening or hedges to help maintain a peaceful ongoing relationship
Furnishing tips for the ‘really big party’ deck – You need to be clever with your furnishings on this deck, so that it doesn’t look like a vast empty space when no one is there. Use some brightly coloured furniture and create zones in different areas. Some light lounges with bright cushions can easily be moved around to suit the occasion. Spend a bit extra on a decent table that does the area justice – the cheap fold up table will seriously damage your credibility
The cottage ‘afternoon tea for two’ verandah (just big enough for a seriously good afternoon gossip)
‘Don’t tell a soul, but did you hear about….’ Sometimes a cosy porch makes for much bigger conversation. The little cottage verandah is the place where all the nations problems can be resolved, at least for a time. Everything from politics, the local ‘goss’, the weather, and general ‘stuff’. Ideally the porch should be located in an area where you can easily see the passer-bys and goings on – it all helps for next conversation point. Aim to have your porch in line with the afternoon sun, as afternoon tea is much more pleasant in a sunny location. A good screen door means you can let the fresh air flow through your home while you relax outdoors
Furnishing tips for the cottage ‘afternoon tea for two’ verandah – Depending on the space you probably wont want anything too big here – some rustic iron fretwork chairs and a small round table will look great, with some cushions to suit. Its meant to be cosy, so add in some hanging plants (they also help deaden the noise so the neighbors cant share your gossip) and some other homely touches. If there is room add in a bench seat that can double as storage box, and if you are a pet person, make sure you provide a spot for them too
The ‘get up high and see the view’ deck (not recommended if you suffer from vertigo)
There is one way to make sure your view doesn’t get built out – build up! We have built some seriously high decks over the past years, and it certainly achieves its purpose – uninterrupted panoramic views! The higher you go, the more critical it is to ensure you have a good quality balustrade system, to ensure the safety of your family and guests. Take time to work out a strategy for dealing with the underside of the deck, so that it doesn’t look like a dining table up on pogo sticks – some timber screening or cleverly planted trees can help provide a grounding aesthetic that will be more eye-pleasing to onlookers. A great advantage of this type of deck is you can create additional storage areas in the space below, perfect for kayaks, garden tools and equipment.
Furnishing tips for the ‘get up high and see the view’ decks – The higher you go, the more wind you are likely to cop, particularly if you are overlooking the coast. Consider solid timber furniture that wont get blown around, or tie down lighter weight furniture. Try and bring some living décor up onto the deck (hardy plants and pots) as you will be a long way from the garden when you get up that high
The upstairs ‘parents retreat when the kids go to bed’ balcony (when you need a serious talk and the kids don’t need to hear)
Our Roland and Lomond designs both incorporate upstairs parents retreats with attached balconies. These balconies provide a great escape in the evenings for some quiet time and a breath of fresh air. Using massive glass doors off the bedroom means you can throw the room open and bring the outdoors right into your retreat. Remember to use screens if the insect life is an issue in your area. Choose your bedroom layout well so that the two areas can merge into one invigorating space
Furnishing tips for the ‘parents retreat when the kids go to bed’ balcony – Choose simple furniture that matches your bedroom décor – you want to create a space that flows easily from indoors to outdoors. Being your own private deck means function can come before style – but if you can tick both boxes that’s a bonus. Have a small table handy for a bottle of red and the days newspaper
The ‘not so stylish but practical’ multi-purpose deck (mightn’t look spick and span, but serves a host of purposes)
This deck might not be your main deck that you show off to your visitors, but it is a deck you will never regret having. Make sure you have access to your laundry and kitchen areas directly from this deck
So what purposes will this deck have?
A play area for the kids – bikes, balls, crayons, jumping mats – you name it you will find it there
Drying the washing- hanging a line off the house to catch the breeze save a long tramp to the back yard, and makes your job a lot quicker
Wash off zone – clean off before heading indoors after a day on the sand or in the water
Storage – for everything and more – boots, jackets, toys, thongs, eskies…
Cooking – let your gourmet flair come to the surface with some outdoor cooking. A bi-folding window and extended kitchen bench makes for a laid back outdoor cooking experience
Relaxing – somewhere in amongst it all you need a table and chairs, for those moments you get to sit down and chill with a coldie
And much more…
Furnishing tips for the ‘not so stylish but practical’ multi-purpose deck – There’s no rules for this one – anything goes!
Low maintenance ‘I’m over oiling’ deck (when your back is telling you its worth the little bit extra)
This option can be used on almost any of the outdoor living styles we have explored in this article. The smaller the deck the less additional outlay you will be looking at, but the larger the deck the more you will appreciate it when you see you neighbour going through the back-breaking task of oiling his deck every 12 months. Don’t get us wrong – we love the look of natural timber, and it is a great option in many situations, but we wouldn’t be covering the topic fully without considering some low maintenance options
There are a range of materials available that don’t require the maintenance of natural timber decking.
- Composite or ‘plastic’ decking such as Modwood or Urbanline requires no oiling, and can be selected from a range of great natural looking colours.
- Outdoor tiles look great and give you a huge colour palate to choose from. They will need cleaning over time, and are not known to be real forgiving when you drop your wine glass at the end of the evening
- Stainless steel chequer plate is an innovative solution we used in a high bushfire zone. Light weight, durable and looks stunning