When I first starting hunting for my first home, I knew I couldn’t afford a sprawling property sitting on acres and acres of open land. Instead, I started the search with townhouses, units and apartments. I only had one specific request — it absolutely must have some kind of outdoor space.
We live in Australia, which has arguably one of the best climates in the world. In my new found freedom, I pictured barbecues with my friends on balmy summer nights, and cosy cups of tea wrapped up in a blanket during winter. To me, it’s vital to be able to sit outside and get some fresh air.
Unfortunately, small houses and attached living spaces come with limited outdoor areas, so it was up to me to get creative with how to best use the courtyard spaces I ended up with. Here are some tips and tricks I picked up from our friends at CENTURY 21, to enjoy the classic Aussie lifestyle and make the most of your yard…
1. Bring the outside in, and the inside out
Instead of making your outdoor area a seperate part of your home, work to integrate it into exisiting inside living spaces. It will make both areas feel bigger — almost like one big continuation from inside to out. This can be achieved with big windows or glass sliding doors, or on a smaller scale just keep your normal doors and windows open to let some fresh air and remind yourself of the space that’s waiting outside. Keep the styling similar from one space to the other to make it all work together, and use house plants to make it feel fluid.
2. Create an alfresco dining space that you’ll actually use
If given the choice to sit inside or outside to eat dinner, I’ll choose outside every time. The only thing that ever puts me off is if it’s “too difficult”. Make it an easier option by ensuring your outdoor dining space is accessible at all times. Keep the salt and pepper outside, and if you’ve got a small fridge then keep condiments and drinks outside too. Have a large tray handy so you’re not making hundreds of trips between the inside kitchen and the outdoor area to bring everything outside. Of course, you can also go the extra step and cook your meal on the barbecue so everything is already there!
3. Create different areas to make the most of the space
If you’ve got the space to create different areas, then do it! It will make it feel bigger if you have different purposes outside — for example have a small table for eating, and then a couch area for relaxing with a book and a cup of tea. If you can create a fire pit to entertain guests in one half, and then create a kids corner with toys on the other then you suddenly have a multi-purpose space, instead of a rarely used outdoor area.
4. Shade is a must
This one is simple — if its boiling hot outside and your only option is to sit under the blistering sun, then you won’t do it. On the flip side, if its raining outside and you’ve got no shelter, you’ll waste a whole winter inside. Instead, invest in some shelter and install a fan to keep you cool and an outdoor heater to keep you toasty, and you’ll be able to use the space all year around.
5. Create atmosphere
No one wants to spend time in a space that doesn’t make them feel good — it’s feng shui 101! It can be inexpensive and simple, and bring so much more of a vibe to the area. Some of the best options are:
- Fairy lights / festoon lighting
- A portable speaker to play music
- Cushions to keep you comfy
- A box of blankets in case it gets chilly
- Incense and matches (this will also keep bugs away!)
- Plants, plants and more plants
The main thing to take away from these tips is that you need to create a space that YOU want to spend time in. Have a think about what would make you spend time there, and then work with that. Don’t waste your space, make it another living area! Thanks CENTURY 21 for the rad advice.
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