With summer well and truly here, it’s time to enjoy the warm weather and mild evenings in your outdoor space. Creating an alfresco area that not only stands on its own merits but also meshes perfectly with the rest of your home is no easy feat. However, by researching the most appropriate style, investing in the right products and then furnishing your space with impeccably selected items, you can create an outdoor living area that elevates your entire home.
Here’s how to design a unique alfresco space that speaks to your tastes and lifestyle, as well as helpful tips from architect and James Hardie™ ambassador Joe Snell.
Why are Alfresco Areas ‘in’ Right Now?
Alfresco is a term borrowed from Italy – and if you’ve ever ventured to that beautiful and ancient country you’ll understand why. Italians are the Kings and Queens of outdoor dining, so you also want your alfresco room to be synonymous with relaxation, good food and entertainment, as well as being an aesthetically pleasing space.
While not a new concept by any means, the alfresco movement in Australia really took off in 2019 and is set to continue into 2020. With summer here and outdoor entertainment top of the list for many Australian families, now is the perfect time to find out why alfresco is so popular.
An alfresco space isn’t just an add-on area for entertaining – it’s essentially a way to extend the size of your home and potentially improve its overall value. But you need to ensure it’s designed with the surrounding environment in mind. That means matching – or contrasting – tones and materials with your existing home, and making sure there’s a natural flow from indoor to outdoor, which will maximise the space and ensure greater functionality.
How to Create Your Dream Alfresco Space
First, you need to conceptualise your space and put together a holistic overview of what you want to achieve. Joe Snell says “understanding the specifics of your preferred alfresco style is key” – and with ‘modern and designer’ homes making up more than half of new-build properties, it may make sense to invest in a modern aesthetic.
But, as Joe advises, you need to know what style you are going for from the beginning: “Whatever your modern aesthetic, it’s important to know the specifics of your look and how to achieve them. Generally speaking, the basics of clean lines, strong shapes, modern materials and simple colour palettes remain the same, but it’s how you build from there that will bring life and personality.”
Next up is materials. For any outdoor space – whether it’s purely for entertaining, or more for everyday living with the family – you want to ensure the materials can stand up to the harsh Australian weather. Linea™ weatherboards are perfect for a modern, coastal look while Axon™ cladding introduces drama and detail to your alfresco space. And underfoot, you’ll want decking that’s hard-wearing, moisture-resistant and capable of enduring the harsh Australian sun just as easily as repeated soakings from a nearby pool – HardieDeck™ is the best solution for you.
Finally, you’ll want to flesh out your alfresco area with the right furnishings. Depending on your tastes and the environment around your home, you may decide to invest in functional outdoor furniture that can be repurposed no matter the occasion – barbecues, pool parties or high-end dinner dates. Alternatively, go for a specific look like the nautical theme, replete with wicker chairs, rustic cushions in soft blues and whites, and even a striking visual like a traditional lamp or an old-style ship’s wheel.
Joe Snell’s Top Alfresco Tips:
● Know your aesthetic: If you’re keen to take advantage of the huge trend towards modern design for your alfresco space, Joe says you first need to know what style you want to employ: “[The ‘modern movement’ has] a focus on form and function, but a number of different design trends such as coastal and Scandi have added to the style, each based on their own influences and principles. It’s important to make distinctions between these and understand the specifics of your preferred version of modern to make it work.”
● Invest in high-quality but low-maintenance materials: Joe shares an example of a Hamptons-style home that makes the most of James Hardie products: “One key component of both modern and Hamptons designs is Linea weatherboard, which creates a similar shadow line to timber boards but, like all premium fibre-cement cladding, stands up to the Aussie elements as it is resistant to flaking, warping or swelling and damage for moisture. This means you can create your vision and keep it longer without maintenance.”
The beauty of an alfresco space is that it can be whatever you want it to be. The only essentials are the need for high quality materials, a clear vision, and plenty of friends and family to entertain when your outdoor area is ready to show off.