10 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Room

We were recently asked to create an outdoor entertaining and relaxing zone for a couple in their fifties. They are planning to do a lot of entertaining over the next few months and wanted an age-appropriate, elegant and functional space with enough seating, an outdoor kitchen and a cosy area to unwind in the great outdoors with family and friends.

A great starting point for the H&D transformation was their undercover pergola area with a recently tiled floor – the perfect blank canvas. However, constructions like this can be quite pricey and often doesn’t leave much in the budget for outdoor furnishings and accessories. So we came up with these ten inexpensive tips for decorating this outdoors space… and it all came together under budget and way above the couple’s expectations.

Define the zones
It’s important to create zones in your outdoor space just like you would indoors. A place to prepare and cook food, to serve it up, to eat and a zone to lounge. So we got to work on splitting up the different areas whilst making sure there was a cohesive flow throughout the space.

Keep functional pieces simple
It’s the functional pieces that will cost the most – the dining and lounge set, the bbq/outdoor kitchen. So for these things that you don’t change over often, it’s important to keep them neutral, streamlined, similar colours and easy to rearrange. We found the perfect lounge and dining set for the space. The chairs around the dining table and the lounge are really comfortable, look great and are made with a low maintenance UV and fade resistant woven wicker.

The Matador BBQ is a modern 4 burner BBQ (with an interchangeable bar fridge option). It has a great stone effect and is the perfect neutral outdoor kitchen. PLUS it has plenty of storage below. A great buy we helped the homeowners pick out from the big range at Bunnings Warehouse.

10 tips for creating an outdoor room

Fresh flowers and candles
Just because you’re outside, it doesn’t mean you can have a fresh posy of flowers. Whether it’s from your own garden, your neighbours or a florist, some fresh blooms will add instant charm and complimenting colours to your outdoor space.

Candles are available in a range of colours to compliment your space and if you find some in citrus or floral scents, you will have heavenly wafts of earthy scents throughout your space. You may think that scented candles are lost on an outdoor space, but they do work really well… and an assortment of floral and citrus scents is a gorgeously heady mix for entertaining and relaxing.

pops of colour
We’re big fans of using pops of colour through soft furnishings and accessories. We were told for this styling project that the bright citrus hit of orange tones were a favourite, so we introduced colour through flowers, candles and cushions. However, if the home owner’s decide that orange tones are no longer their desired colour palette, then all they have to do is switch out the posy of flowers, two cushions and one candle and they will have a fresh new look with a new colour blend of their choice: blues, greenspops of yellow etc

a bird or two
Whether indoors or out, we always try to throw in a bird or two into our decorating projects. They come in such a great range of colours, styles and materials so we always find a perfect match to add to our styling medley.

go vertical
When there is limited space, or when you want to have uncluttered areas, just go vertical. These candle holders and plant pots are for table tops, but the pressed metal designs mean that they are easily mounted on the wall.

We used these metal candle holders as a great way of styling a plain pergola post and as a contrasting feature against brickwork. At night they throw great candlelit ambience across the space.

low maintenance plants
The use of low maintenance plants like succulents mean that you have virtually indestructible greenery and they can be watered with a simple spray bottle so you don’t have to splash out the space with a hose reel. They look great too, and you can simple cut and replant many pots worth from just one plant.
10 tips for creating an outdoor room

Water Feature
The thought of a water feature usually conjures up thoughts of a big, complicated, labour-some and time consuming project. But we used this large, rustic platter (only $17 from the Papaya Homewares Sale) and added a splash of water and some flowers from the garden. Some Ikea Tindra tealight candles… and voila! An instant and very zen-like water feature.

10 tips for creating an outdoor room

Outdoor art
We always think of artwork as an indoor decor item, but your outdoor spaces could do with a splash of artistic flair too. We found these organic leaf design candle holders that are a subtle yet effective distraction from a busy brick wall. They provide a great ambient feature when lit up at night too.

There is no reason why you can’t mount some earthy artwork (like these inexpensive square canvas prints) to the wall in an outdoor space, especially for outdoor areas that are undercover and protected from the elements.

Keep it cosy
When outdoors, it’s harder to make a space feel cosy because you’re in a vast expanse and not enclosed by four walls. But if you use all the above tips plus comfy cushions, wooden serving trays, place mats, coasters, throws… they all play their part in building a little story of comfort. The things that make your indoors homely and cosy can easily be replicated outdoors to create that warm feel.

Cushions specifically made for outdoors can sometimes be quite bland in colouring and are often made in that plastic water proof material (anything but cosy or comfortable). But if you keep your outdoor comfort items like cushions in natural textures, then it will cosy up your space. We prefer to use indoor cushions outdoors. Yes it is true, it can be done! Just don’t them outside when not in use because they will fade and discolour quickly in the sunlight – bring them in and away from the elements to keep them clean and looking fresh. We recently found this great Musko outdoor cushion storage bag from Ikea which will also do the trick.

10 tips for creating an outdoor room: outdoor entertaining ideas

Do you have an indoor or outdoor space you would like us to style?
Send us an email with your details and we can weave some H&D magic for you.

Hillary and Dijon - Surangi

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