Winter-ready outdoor areas
Winter may be just around the corner but that needn’t mean your alfresco area should be put into hibernation.
Jocasta Bronwasser, of Jetmaster Fireplaces WA, said West Australians’ love of outdoor living had seen an increase in demand for outdoor heating systems — portable heaters as well as built-in gas and wood-burning fireplaces — to not only add ambience but to make outdoor areas accessible year round.
“Many of us feel nostalgic when we see a dancing flame, ” she said.
“The warmth and ambience that a fire can bring to your outdoor area tends to conjure up fond memories and feelings of wellbeing.”
So what are the ingredients you need for a winter-ready alfresco area?
Heating is a key ingredient of winter-proof spaces, according to Bunnings’ Cameron Rist.
“Outdoor heaters are a great entertaining accessory, keeping guests warm and comfortable while they wine and dine during the cooler months, ” he said.
As well as freestanding patio heaters, built-in wall or ceiling heaters were becoming increasingly popular, according to Rod Betts of Barbecue Bazaar.
Mr Betts said some models even offered remote ignition, allowing them to be switched on from inside the home to begin heating the area while guests were still indoors.
Outdoor heating can also be multifunctional, providing both heating and cooking.
Masters Home Improvement buyer Jason Hughes said chimineas and pizza ovens were popular for this purpose as they enabled you to whip up a wood-fired pizza while enjoying warmth and ambience.
Extremely popular in recent years, Interior Designer Natalie Boyd, of Bella Life Style, said fire pits also doubled as a focal point in alfresco areas.
“A fire pit can be a cosy and inviting place to chat with friends on a cool evening, ” she said.
Keep out the elements: Alfresco living. Picture: Eco Outdoor
KEEP OUT THE ELEMENTS
Mr Rist said outdoor blinds could help maximise the efficiency of your heating system, as well as protect the area from wind and rain.
He said clear bistro blinds — which had the added bonus of not blocking views — were a popular choice and were easy to install, while Debbie Taylor from Mondo Landscapes said louvres and shutters were a stylish built-in option.
Ms Boyd said a well-positioned screen could also provide protection from both the wet and the cold. “Bamboo, brushwood, steel, wood, acrylic, plastic or waterproof canvas are all options, ” she said.
“More structural screens can also be feature brick, stone, render or timber cladding.”
Clever planting could also provide relief from harsh weather conditions, she said — think hedging, gabions or dense tree planting.
Ms Taylor said furniture was an important part of a creating a functional winter alfresco area.
“Furniture can make or break your outdoor area, ” she said.
She recommends selecting good quality products.
“You want it to stand the test of time, ” she said.
Adam Eaton, from The Outdoor Furniture Specialists, said wicker, wood, aluminium, glass and stone were some of the materials finding their way into outdoor areas.
Outdoor Entertaining area with a woodfired pizza oven. Picture: Rob Duncan
Alfresco Kitchens’ Ric Piil said the change in weather didn’t mean the end of outdoor cooking.
“Savvy homeowners are spending significant amounts on the ‘outdoor room’ and they are looking at ways to extend the use of their investments to include all seasons, ” he said.
The radiating warmth added to the cooking potential of a wood-fired pizza oven helped to create a pleasant outdoor cooking area all year-round, and offered an alternative from the traditional barbecue.
Light the Night
Stacey Spencer, of The Garden Light Company, said lighting could not only make an outdoor space useable all year-round, it provided a lovely outlook when inside a home.
“Some of the best views include watching the rain, lightning storms, or just watching the weather change, ” she said.
“Seasonal differences also give you an appreciation for light-reflection changes on your garden.”
She recommend using feature lights above alfresco tables, uplights in garden beds for shadowing effects and downlights to illuminate feature walls, recessed areas or garden decor.
Dimmers could also be used to create mood in alfresco entertaining areas.
“This allows you to change the lighting from practical during a meal, to ambient as the evening progresses, ” Ms Spencer said.
© The West Australian
More Home and Garden at thewest/lifestyle/home