How to create different zones to entertain at home.
Summer is just around the corner, and once again life will migrate outdoors. Whether it’s a long lunch with friends, a relaxing morning coffee amongst the trees, or cocktails under the stars, there’s plenty of ways to utilise your slice of the great outdoors. From a sprawling backyard to a compact courtyard, with the right planning you can create a functional outdoor room that will be the perfect setting for the occasion.
First, plan your layout as you would any interior by taking into consideration what you will use the space for most often and occasionally. Then, add furniture, lighting, and decorative features to bring the vision to life. Unsure where to start? Let’s take a closer look at the most common uses and styles of alfresco entertaining zones…
DREAMY LONG LUNCHES
Meals outside just taste better. If you have the space, even for a two-seater dining table, you should consider adding one as it will immediately turn your garden, back deck or patio into an alfresco dining zone. Choose a non-fixed, lightweight style which is equal parts versatile and durable. Then, amp up the comfort factor with chair covers or pillows and throw rugs for when the sun retreats. Portable or fixed outdoor heating lamps will also entice guests to linger longer, as will adequate shade coverage – so position your table under a pergola, awning, or invest in a free-standing umbrella.
Your outdoor dining space should be just as comfortable as the indoors so consider accessories such as a heat lamp and ceiling fan, as well as adequate lighting. Photography: Martina Gemmola.
Create seamless indoor-outdoor flow by designing a laidback conversation space, complete with comfy lounges, rug, coffee and side tables, ottoman and throw pillows – all the creature comforts you’d find indoors. Nowadays, outdoor materials and fabrics can better withstand the elements, such as those in the Zara Collection from King pictured below. The fabric covers are water-resistant as well as fade- and mildew-resistant.
Solar garden lights are a cost-effective and non-obtrusive way to light this space. Place them below feature trees and alongside plants to highlight focal points in your garden.
If you want to regularly host events – such as Christmas lunch – and entertain large groups, then an outdoor kitchen is a must. For this, you can go as basic or extravagant as you like, depending on space and budget. Start with a bar fridge, storage for plates and cooking essentials, and a built-in barbecue, then luxe it up with a woodfire pizza oven, additional beer and wine fridge, and sink.
To bring the outdoors into the space, place potted plants around or add a vertical garden, especially if your area looks out over an unsightly fence. Water features will also add to the ambience and a string of fairy lights will make the space feel magical after sunset.
A casual sofa setting offers additional informal seating for large groups. Just be sure to add a coffee and side table to perch drinks.
DRINKS BY THE POOL
You don’t need a swim-up pool bar to enjoy cocktails by the water, but what you do need is a pair of relaxing sun lounges or day beds and a freestanding umbrella. Add a small occasional table to hold drinks while you dip in the pool and your set-up is complete. From lightweight aluminum to durable wicker with sink-in pillow-tops, our pick is the Jasper Sun Lounge by King which features WeatherWeave, a high-quality outdoor fabric handwoven by the brand’s artisans. It’s soft to the touch for comfortable lounging but withstands the elements; resistant to fading or degrading over time. Bonus, the lounge has hidden storage underneath for towels, hats, sunscreen…. or a spare cocktail shaker.
Candle lanterns add character as well as light. Position them in safe areas around the pool to accommodate for those late-night swims. Photography: Mindi Cooke
Whether it’s a bench seat nestled amongst foliage or a hanging egg chair on the deck, a solitary space to enjoy a book, a coffee, or just a moment’s peace and quiet is a valuable addition. Choose a spot that’s tucked away – right down the back of the yard or side garden – then add plenty of comfy soft furnishings and potted plants to up the tranquillity factor. There are no design rules for this space other than it should bring you joy; it’s yours to imagine and create.
Seating of any kid is the easiest way to create an inviting outdoor space, but even more so in the form of a cosy hanging chair. Photography: Annette O’Brien