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News & Inspiration

8 Alfresco Design Ideas

Nov 4, 2019 | Project Homes, Inspiration

Alfresco entertaining spaces have quickly become a real second ‘heart of the home’, being the perfect space to unwind with friends (or alone) and enjoy the outdoors, all year round.

After all, there’s something special about our outdoor Aussie lifestyle.

Whether you’re having a few friends over for dinner, sitting by the pool with a cup of coffee or simply enjoying the serenity of your backyard with a glass of wine, an alfresco area can certainly add to your lifestyle!

Outdoor alfresco entertaining Australian lifestyle
Image: Camille Styles

So, a sure-fire way to ensure that your alfresco design ideas come together to create the perfect space for you, is to firstly ask yourself a new important questions:

  • Do I want to be able to use this space in both Summer and Winter?
  • Where is the sun in relation to this space, and where will I need shade?
  • Will I need an undercover area in case of rain?
  • What will I use the space for? Entertaining, or just for kicking back?
  • How often will I use this space?

Answering these few questions will help you to determine which of the below alfresco design ideas are the most important for your space!

Here are 8 beautiful alfresco design ideas that will help you to create the perfect space, complete with functionality and flexibility.

1) Blending indoor & outdoor living

The beauty of having an alfresco area is creating a seamless connection between your home and the beautiful outdoors.

By adding an alfresco area, you will expand the quality and environment of your home, opening it up to space, light, breezes and views.

Blend indoors and outdoors alfresco oakwood

Ideally, you will want your alfresco room to feel as connected and integrated to its adjoining indoor living area as possible.

Here are two simple alfresco design ideas to make the connection between your indoor and outdoor spaces seamless:

  • Make the floor heights of both your inside living area and outside alfresco area the same. This will instantly make it feel like your alfresco area is an extension of your internal living area. 
  • Seperate your indoor and outdoor space with large sliding bifold or concertina glass doors, that can push back fully. This will practically eliminate the barrier between the spaces making the area feel like one generous living space.

Mincove Oakwood Alfresco Area Indoor Outdoor Living

1) Incorporating an outdoor kitchen

Nothing quite screams the Australian dream like that of an outdoor kitchen!

So, when designing an outdoor kitchen for your alfresco area, be sure to consider the space and how you will use it to ensure total functionality.

Will you still use your main kitchen for preparation, and then just cook outside? Or would you like to be able to do everything outside?

The answers to these questions will affect your choice of appliances, whether you will need a sink and how much bench space you will need.

If you’re feeling like going all out, then a bar fridge and/or a pizza oven are two impressive additions to an outdoor kitchen that will have your guests never wanting to leave!

Pizza Oven Alfresco Area
Image: Home Beautiful

Also think about the location of your outdoor kitchen within your alfresco area.

Locating an outdoor kitchen as close as possible to your indoor kitchen means an easy dash back to the fridge or to get plates and cutlery, and also eliminates the need to weave around furniture to get back inside.

You also won’t want your guests to be sitting right on top of your outdoor BBQ or cooking plates, so ensure there is enough space between this and your outdoor dining table.

TIP: Your outdoor appliances and surfaces need to be suitable for exposure to the elements, so select surfaces that are easy to clean and maintain.

Cove Mincove Homes Outdoor Alfresco Kitchen

3) Creating shade & shelter

You won’t want to forget to incorporate some sort of shelter from the harsh Summer sun, and also from rain to ensure that you can use your alfresco space all year round.

Depending on your space and its position, shade and shelter can be incorporated in a permanent or flexible way.

To really integrate your alfresco area with your main house, you may want to opt for an extended full plasterboard ceiling. This too is a great way to create a seamless connection between the two spaces.

Ridgewood Plasterboard Ceiling Alfresco Area

If your alfresco area is open to the elements, here are a few alternative alfresco design ideas to give you some all important shade and/or shelter:

  • Polycarbonate roofing, which can allow sunlight through and provide weather protection
  • Battening made from timber or aluminium, to cover all or some of the area
  • Plant a vine or creeper to grow over a pergola or a screen
  • Plant trees that will provide shade in the hot Summer months
  • Hang a shade cloth, or place a generous outdoor umbrella within your open space

TIP: Each of these solutions will also double as great privacy solutions for your alfresco area.

4) Making it a space for all seasons

If you’re going to invest in a beautiful alfresco area, then it will be worth your while planning a space that you and your friends and family can comfortably enjoy all year round – improving its liveability.

To make your space comfortable for use in Winter, incorporate a heat source.

Fire Pit Outdoor Alfresco Living Area
Image: Bunnings

Popular heat sources for alfresco areas are pizza ovens, a fireplace or fire pit. Or, there are also a great range of external heaters available on the market that will do a great job of heating your outdoor area.

For cooling in Summer, create shade but also still allow for breezes to be able to come through the space.

Or, if you have a plasterboard ceiling over your alfresco space, why not incorporate a ceiling fan?

Alfresco Outdoor Lights Ceiling Fan Callala

5) Creating a flexible entertaining space

At some special occasions throughout the year such as birthday parties or at Christmas time, you may have a large group of people using your alfresco area.

So, this is particularly where flexibility is key.

When choosing your outdoor furniture, choose items that are both lightweight and can be moved around easily to create extra space.

Ridgewood Open-Plan Living Area Alfresco

If your alfresco space is on the smaller side, consider space saving furniture options such as a storage bench that can double as extra seating.

Your alfresco area should also feature some standing room, particularly around your outdoor kitchen.

Finally, don’t block yourself from the indoors! Position your alfresco furniture so that you still have easy access to the kitchen. Comfort and convenience are key! 

6) Creating a night-time friendly space

Much like making your alfresco area a space for all seasons, don’t forget to also make it a place for night time – to really extend the usability of the area!

Lighting is a design element that can really set the tone of your alfresco area.

Unlike in some of your indoor spaces, where you may need bright ‘task lighting’ – your alfresco area is a space where you want to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Cove Mincove Alfresco Area

Here are some lighting design ideas to set the perfect tone for your space:

TIP: You may want to direct brighter spotlights onto your garden or backyard to further highlight the beautiful environment surrounding your alfresco area.

7) Bringing warmth & coziness with furnishings/styling

When it comes to alfresco areas, we tend to get so caught up in the design and layout of the space that we forget about the all important finer details!

Think of your alfresco area as your outdoor living room.

So, as you would finish your indoor living area with cushions, throw blankets, magazines and potted plants – include them in your outdoor living area too!

Furnishings Three Birds Renovations
Image: Three Birds Renovations

Styling your alfresco area with cosy furnishings is the perfect final addition to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

To really blend inside with out, experiment with natural materials and textures when dressing your alfresco area.

TIP: Make sure your furnishings/homewares are weather-appropriate if placed out in the open – or remember to bring them inside after use!

8) Ensuring low maintenance

Ideally, you will want to spend your time enjoying this space – not cleaning and maintaining it!

So when choosing your furniture and furnishing materials, try to opt for items that are:

  • Heat and weather resistant
  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Don’t show dirt easily/are easy to clean
  • Generally low maintenance

Oakwood Mincove Homes Waterproof Furniture

Keep maintenance in mind when choosing the main materials for your alfresco area such a flooring, too.

For example, most timbers will require re-oiling approximately every 12 months. 

If you would prefer not to have to worry about maintenance of timber decking, then options such as tiling, paving or even exposed aggregate concrete could be good solutions for you.

Give our friendly and experienced New Homes Consultants a call today on (02) 4256 0222, to find out more about how we can help you to design the perfect alfresco space for you and your family.

Mincove Ridgewood Home Back Pool Alfresco Area Specialists

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