It is a question Uocmas Interior Design is asked frequently – how do you create an inspirational outdoor area that reflects the Australian lifestyle? I spoke with Senior Interior Designer Rohan Smith from Melbourne about his insights on outdoor design.
Rohan begins, “I believe it’s important to blur the lines between interiors and exteriors and create continuous flow throughout a home. This might be continuing the use of timber or a particular palette. It’s imperative that the style complements the interiors, just as you would rooms of the home.
“Alfresco areas have so much potential for entertaining. Consider the size of your space and furnish accordingly. Use the same principles as you would an indoor space and consider lighting as well as feature pieces such as sculpture or outdoor wall art to continue your interior decorating style into your outdoor spaces.
He continues, “outdoor lighting should be approached with the same thought as interior lighting – a mix of both ambient and task lighting should be considered. Task lighting might be in the form of exterior wall lights or spot lights whilst ambient lighting might be a hidden halogen spot washing up the trunk of a feature tree in the garden.
“Select materials that are durable and worthy of the harsh Australian climate. Consider stone, as despite its heaviness, it’s a noble and versatile material that enhances any aesthetic.
“Taking the indoors out also helps meld the interior and exterior spaces – matching an exterior paver with the interior floor tile or decking a space in a timber similar to an indoor timber floor will make the transition from indoors to out more seamless,” comments Rohan.
On gardens, Rohan says, “sustainable and edible gardens are gaining popularity with people using their outdoors spaces not only as an entertaining space and an extension of their indoor living zones, but also to provide fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs for cooking.
“This is becoming even more important in an age where there’s more focus on organic living and people wanting to know where their food comes from.
“Space is also no longer an issue when it comes to outdoor gardens – as vertical and container gardens are not only popular and space saving- but also attractive.”
Continuing on entertaining, Rohan comments, “outdoor kitchens are also a great addition to an outdoor space – gone are the days of the old bbq stuck in a corner of the back yard! An outdoor kitchen is perfectly suited to the Australian climate as it takes the cook out of the hot and oppressive confines of an indoor kitchen on a hot day or evening, but also lets the cook commune with their guests whilst enjoying an outdoor space together.”
“Lastly, using a mix of furniture to provide both dining as well as lounging spaces will give the outdoor areas more than one use.”