In the balmy summer months, it’s easy to entertain family and friends in the alfresco area while children splash happily in the pool. When the cooler months arrive, it’s tempting to shut the bi-fold doors, pull the curtains and wait for spring.
But Western Australia’s mild temperatures mean that apart from a few short weeks of the year, outdoor living and entertaining is entirely possible, especially if you employ a few tricks of the trade.
John Cory, of Country Earth, says the key to creating an outdoor area that is flexible through the seasons is building a north-facing shelter.
“That will be better positioned for protection from the hot summer sun and strong winds but it will allow for the lower winter sun to heat up the area in the cooler months,” he says.
“Shelter does not have to be limited to structures. You can use deciduous trees to provide summer shade and in winter when they drop their leaves, warm sun can still filter through.”
On the ground
“The style of paving is also important,” John says. “If you plan what is on the ground carefully, you can integrate grass with pavers and encourage people to navigate around the grass in winter.
“Deciding on a non-slip, stain-resistant and low-maintenance paving stone will ensure that you are always ready to entertain, no matter what the season.”
John says having easy access to outdoor areas and working with materials that can be used inside and out will help to create a seamless transition.
Consider installing doors that can be opened wide in the summer months but still provide a strong visual link in winter when they may need to be closed.
“If the inside and outside flow well together, the whole property will seem more spacious,” he says.
Adam Smith from eKitchens says there’s plenty of good reasons to cook outside year round.
“No smells or mess inside and being able to watch the kids or dogs play outside while cooking is nice,” he says.
“My grandparents were Italian, rarely did I see Nonna cooking inside, meals were almost always cooked outside in their alfresco. This can be seen all over the world, so I find it a little odd that here in Australia we’re blessed with great weather and yet we don’t do more outside year round.”
Adam says demand for alfresco kitchens has exploded in the past couple of years thanks to new and affordable materials being available.
“We have found customers these days are very well researched and know exactly what they want, so they are not afraid to ask for custom-made DIY options.”
Adam’s tips for designing an alfresco kitchen
- Check the regulations regarding ventilation with your area when installing gas barbecues.
- If the kitchen will be exposed to the elements, then Laminex Alfresco doors are the perfect choice, as these are built for Australian conditions.
- If you’re not going to flume your barbecue, make sure you position your kitchen as close to the open areas as possible. This will help disperse excess smoke when cooking.
- Think seriously about putting in natural gas and water/waste – no more trips inside to clean up or trips to the local hardware store for bottles of gas.
- Having a fridge outside close to the barbecue is really handy when you are entertaining.
- Having a bin drawer is a must to keep the rubbish outside, not back inside.
- Waterproof cabinets and doors are a must in my opinion, even if the area is not exposed to any rain or direct sunlight. The huge temperature fluctuations that occur every day are not ideal for traditional materials such as chipboard.