Published by Jane
Posted on March 27, 2018
Australia is well known for its outdoor alfresco area dining experience, none more so than in Melbourne. Virtually most homes have some sort of outdoor dining or decking area. What I have found in my travels and especially in Canada where their summer, surprisingly, is very similar to Melbourne’s is that lack of forward thinking when it comes to design. Especially when incorporating an outdoor alfresco area. I designed and built my first home at the age of 21. I have over 35 years of building and interior design experience. Therefore, it has taught me to always look at the project from the finish and work backwards.
Still to this day, I have clients that have signed up to well known and established building companies in Melbourne with project managers that work of template designs not incorporating sensible building techniques that save their clients tens of thousands of dollars in the future. Having vast experience in designing and building homes alongside my experienced tradespeople, I prefer to engage my clients when the design is being drawn and finalised with these building companies. The single biggest and recurring mistake by these building companies is the inability to listen to their clients end objective for how they want to use the space. This has been often seen through the lack of foresight in extending the roofline of the property to incorporate a fully enclosed (from all the elements) whilst still being outside alfresco area.
As seen below, working with my client, I designed this outdoor alfresco area which leads into the kitchen, dining and family room area. Gone are the days of a formal dining room given the modern family does not have time to sit down together. In the project seen below, I have incorporated a few key features that are considered an upgrade to the Australian alfresco area.
Firstly, you will notice the customised 10 seater outdoor table. This was made to fit on the dark stained timber flooring deck that was built. Having a large entertaining table is vital for an alfresco area. This allows the space to be used for the extended family to enjoy.
Secondly, I have incorporated into the interior design, a fully functioning and self contained kitchen. Therefore, this does not require the residents to use the formal kitchen when cooking outside. Having a fully integrated dishwasher, oven, BBQ, sink & tap, fridge/freezer, TV wall mounted above and plenty of storage underneath, it allows for the residents to keep all of their cooking and cleaning equipment outside and saves on using two spaces.
Thirdly, I have attached two heat strip heaters to the roof of the outdoor alfresco area. These are discreetly tucked away when not being used however provide plenty of warmth throughout the colder winter nights. I have also installed automated blinds that extend down to the top of the glass panel screens around the deck. This environment allows the residents when seated and in the space to be apart of the outdoors. Furthermore it allows them to sit outside without being exposed to the elements. The added protection of the blinds helps encapsulate the outdoor alfresco and turn it into another room for the residents.
Fourthly and most importantly was the installation of two sets of bi-fold doors. These were customised and designed for the property and its residents. Interior design is about focusing on how your clients are going to use the space once it is completed. Being able to pull back the doors and open the space up adds another room to the property. Therefore, allowing for the easily flow of people from one space to another. Furthermore, the residents can have the feeling of the outside coming in without the full exposure to the elements.
When designing the interiors I put myself in the shoes of the client. Thinking exactly how would they use this space given their living conditions and needs was essential.
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