The sun is finally out and the long hours of daylight call for fun and socialising. One of the best ways to enjoy the summer days, evenings and nights is to kick off a backyard barbie session, hot meat, cool salads and ice-cold drinks to get you into the summer groove.
Is there anything more Aussie than backyards and cook ups?
As well as creating a space for you to enjoy with family and friends, a great outdoor barbeque set up will also add loads of value to your home. Set the scene for an incredible lifestyle that will reap rewards over and over. The more time and planning you put into your barbequing haven, the more likely you will be to love it, use it and see a great return when you come to sell.
The first thing to look at when it comes to designing your perfect outdoor entertaining space is what exists already. For some, you will be starting from scratch, with barren land and few weeds, maybe a clothesline to contend with. The blank canvas awaits. Others will be looking at an outdated space, overrun, underused but established areas that could include covered patios or existing garden beds and plants, while others will just be looking at an update or upgrade to perhaps make the space bigger, better sheltered, well lit or easy to access. This is the point where real planning helps. Be really clear here about what you want to achieve in look, feel and accessibility so that you can create the space you need for a perfect finish. Also have your budget planned so you know what materials you can afford because that can have a big impact on the overall effect.
Your space will work better if you already have your barbeque or know the one you will be putting in so you can make plans that will fit around the right shape and size. Make sure you think far enough ahead that you can factor in any additional purchases, upgrades or new barbeque styles you might be interested in in the future, although these days many outdoor grills are designed to go the distance.
If you are still to buy your cooker, be sure to choose one that works for your space. A small yard might not be the best match with a large entertainer's set up. If your courtyard is small, a smaller barbeque tucked into the corner might be your best bet.
Don't be afraid to build on the grass
If your yard doesn't have a designated entertaining space, like a deck or patio or if the current area is too small to use effectively, reclaim some of your grassed area to pave a courtyard or run a deck. It's a fantastic way to define your dining area and modernise your outdoor space. Even a small courtyard can be plenty enough space, if you plan it well.
Make sure your barbeque is placed in a well-ventilated area to get rid of smoke and greasy exhaust. Be sure to place your grill away from your home doors and windows to prevent smoke creeping inside. If you have the space and money you might want to consider an outdoor kitchen that has a barbie built in. In this case, you can install a range hood or fan to help move the cooking smoke out.
Choose your flooring material carefully
Your outdoor floor is going to take a pretty big beating. It needs to be able to handle food and drink spills, mud and rain. Even if your area is fully covered it's still going to be messier and wetter than inside spaces. Look for flooring materials that are easy to maintain, clean and seal, usually something smooth works well, that way the work you do now will last. Expect heavy foot traffic and exposure to the elements so something sturdy and tolerant like concrete pavers is a good place to start.
There is more to barbequing than just your barbeque
When it comes to the space you need factor in room for everything else that goes around cooking. So prep work, serving and cleaning. Drinks, barbeque accessories and seating also need to come into the equation.
Inbuilt seating is a great way to save space and money
Garden walls look stunning and are a sensational way to double down your seating and storage. You save money on expensive furniture settings and they are more durable than anything else on the market. Rather than seats that are individually allocated and sized, benches can cater to just about any number of visitors and suit both adults and kids equally. Cushions are a great way to liven up the space, add comfort and your own splash of personal style that can be quickly and cheaply updated when needed.
Retaining walls work exceptionally well with barbeque areas.
Want to use your entertaining area all year round?
Now that you have and adore your outdoor space you probably want to find ways to maximize its use and see it working for you in the chill as well. A fire pit is a modern and cheap way to warm up your space and bring ambience without the hassle of storing portable gas heaters when not in use. Combining ceiling heating with your lights is another option for keeping warm when the sun goes down or in the shoulder seasons.
Smart devices can even be linked to your home automation and controlled remotely with your phone or home security touch screen
A little planning can go a long way to a long-term investment for your property and summer lifestyle.