Outdoor Living Space Design – 7 Important factors

It’s all in the detail… I am sure you have heard that before. Knowledge is power, which really boils down to the same thing. The point is that if you want to get the best results, it helps to do a little homework first. Increase your knowledge by doing some research. Some details nobody thinks about at the time of planning, may very wail have a significant impact on how much pleasure you finally get from your outdoor living space.

We are not saying you should become a professional, but arming yourself with the necessary knowledge will go a long way towards ensuring success. Here are 7 of the most important factors that you should consider.

1.How do you intend utilising this space in future?

Are you just looking for a chill-area where you can relax in an open-air environment, or would you rather just have a nice al-Fresco dining area? Perhaps you require both, and an outdoor kitchen or bar, so I can prepare food and drinks while watching a great sports event with my friends.

2. Think about the weather and the elements

What is the direction of the sun in summer vs winter? From which direction do the strongest winds come? What about rain? – do you need the structure to be absolutely waterproof? Keep in mind that fixed structures can be made absolutely waterproof, but retractable/adjustable structures can hardly ever be considered absolutely 100% waterproof (especially during heavy rains combined with strong winds. Some manufacturers may claim their structures are watertight, but that may only be during normal, fairly moderate rainy conditions.

Wind also plays an important role. It may be worthwhile to consider enclosing the sides of the structure, to serve as a wind-barrier. In winter, this will allow you shelter from the cold winds, this raising the ambient temperature inside the structure. In summer you may want no windbreak, to allow the necessary airflow too cool the outdoor space.

Outdoor blinds/screens with a perforated, semi-transparent fabric will may be an ideal alternative. They will allow light in, have a minimal effect on your views, whilst doing a really good job of tempering the sharp light from a rising or setting sun. They will also cool the area significantly.

3. Resistance against the elements and future maintenance

Consider what materials are used in the construction of your shading solution, furniture and other elements. There has been some great technological advancement in the creation of materials and fabrics for the outdoor market in recent years.

Using materials like high grade, powder-coated aluminium, or stainless steel will require far less maintenance than wood or even galvanised steel for the sub-structure of your terrace cover. Coastal areas are especially vulnerable to the onslaught of corrosive, salt-laden sea air.

In the outdoor furniture industry, we now see fabrics that are very comfortable and gentle to the touch, but with high resistance against mould, fading colours and UV rays from the sun. These, combined with aluminium sub-frames, will last longer and will retain it’s good looks with minimal maintenance in years to come. Synthetic rattan has replaced bamboo, and will not fade, or become mouldy in the way that traditional rattan may do. Wood will most likely require sanding and re-varnishing from time to time, but aluminium will probably just require a good wipe-down from time to time.

4. What will the impact of fitting a shade structure be on the adjacent rooms?

Will shading the entertainment lounge make the lounge too dark? Keep in mind that covering a patio may cause adjacent rooms to be much cooler in summer (an advantage) but those same rooms may then be freezing in winter. This will also impact on your electricity consumption.

A retractable structure will allow you to have both options. In winter you can let the sun in by retracting the roof and in summer you can enjoy the cooling shade.

5. Drainage

This is, oddly enough, an aspect that is very often ignored. Any structure you erect on your patio will deposit a certain volume of water when it rains. How heavy the rains may be in the worst possible conditions will to a large extent determine what kind of drainage is required. Some structures have integrated gutter and downpipe systems, avoiding ugly, exterior-mounted downpipes that spoil the design.

A slightly raised wooden deck can be a handy solution, as water can run freely and hidden under the deck towards established drains on the patio.

6. Budget

Although it is important to consider the existing style and architecture of your home, it is also important that you keep an eye on the expenses. In Europe, with it’s high-density populations, budgets for research and development are much larger than in developing regions such as Sub-Sahara Africa, which has lead to some really amazing technological advances.

Some really sophisticated gadgets are available, from retractable roofs and screens, to dimmable LED lighting, as well as wind and rain sensors that will automatically open and close- or switch things on or off, depending on their settings. All these gadgets allow you to control these features via a remote, or may even be integrated in your Home Automation System. Some manufacturers have even developed Apps that you can download to control these systems from your smart mobile or tablet. They do however come at a cost.

A fantastic patio and entertainment area may be great, but you need to ask yourself how much value the alterations will add to your home, and how that compares with the cost of the alteration. If you live in a fairly middle-class suburb with more average homes, you could easily over-capitalise, which means that you will not be able to sell the home at a price that exceeds the cost of the alterations plus the current value.

As a guideline, you could spend 10-15% of the value of your home on a decent outdoor living space, and you may even find that, such an alteration increases the overall value of the home be even more than you invested (obviously the most desirable outcome).

Once you have determined a maximum budget, do not be tempted to overspend. Remember also, that you cannot go shopping for a Ferrari of a Fiat budget. For this reason, we have specifically sourced suppliers that enable us to offer good value all the way up and down the costing scale. We can supply the ultimate outdoor living space with every bell and whistle you could possibly have, or, if you need something more reasonably priced, we have products that will still allow you to create a beautiful, functional outdoor space at a more conservative price.