The emergence of the ‘outdoor room’ may sound like a newish phenomenon, however, like so many wonderful things, it dates back to Roman times, when outdoor spaces were arranged around interior courtyards. ‘Garden rooms’ followed, where outdoor areas were zoned for different purposes such as the edible or potager garden, the scented garden, and the formal garden. These days, outdoor rooms are more important to our lifestyle than ever, as we crave safe, comfortable exterior places to socialise, slow down, rest and recharge.
No matter what purpose your exterior spaces must serve you, there is a stylish and individual way to create them, so read on for tips on creating wonderful outdoor rooms.
More and more we are seeing beautiful rooms that blur the line between indoors and out — they were even known as ‘the blur’ in architects’ parlance for a while. These rooms adjoin homes and are often accessed through large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors. They have a ceiling but are otherwise open to the elements, the key benefit being that they provide protection from strong sun, wind and rain.
These fixed shelters were once simply lounge areas, but now you’ll see them with ovens, pizza ovens, sinks, dishwashers, fridges and bars — yes they are fully kitted out. The most lavishly designed ones will even have different zones within — areas for cooking, eating, and then lounging.
Styling these spaces, as they are so closely and visibly linked to the actual home, is best kept to the same interior look. A relaxed, beachy home is best served with a relaxed, beachy outdoor sone. Conversely, a smart urban contemporary home might look a little odd with an earthy, bohemian outdoor space.
The same styling principles apply to these spaces as they do indoors — layer with comfortable cushions and throws, use different lighting types to create different moods (you can’t beat lanterns for ambience), and create a chilled, laidback atmosphere by serving your loved ones generous shared plates of seasonal fare.
Creating a special room structure away from a main dwelling is a superb way of embracing the outdoors, no matter the season. A roofed structure with open walls establishes a lovely sense of comfort and security — of being cocooned away from the rest of the world. With these rooms you achieve protection from harsh summer sun, as well as sultry summer rain — so it’s a win-win situation, weather-wise. Here are some tips for creative the cosiest of cocoons:
Heather Nette King is a Melbourne‑based interiors stylist and writer for many leading interior titles and newspapers. She has been the Melbourne Homes Editor of Sunday Life magazine for over a decade, and her work has appeared in many Australian and international magazines, including Inside Out Magazine, Country Style, Australian House & Garden, Real Living Australia Magazine, Home Beautiful Magazine, Vogue Living, ELLE China, The Design Files and The Interiors Addict. Her own home has appeared in Belle Magazine, and her previous home was featured in the international style bible, ELLE Decoration UK. Heather has created the visual imagery for many well-known Australian brands, and also works behind the scenes copy-writing for their advertisements and websites. Heather is currently renovating her family home in an iconic, heritage‑listed apartment block. Her hobbies are gardening, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and walking her beloved Golden Retriever, Dougal.