Make the most of your Outdoor Area

There's no secret that Port Macquarie has the most amazing temperate climate. If you live here, you know how great it is! I've been away on a little annual leave which seemed to punctuate the end of the season for me. Since my return, spring is definitely in the air (and in my step) and its starting to feel great in the outdoors once again. I enjoyed a happy weekend in my own garden enjoying the spring vibe.

With the change of season, there is renewed interest in maximising outdoor living spaces. If you arent using your outdoor areas wisely then read on... a few ideas to help you improve your lifestyle for the upcoming spring and summer seasons and add value to your home at the same time.

Today space is precious so you need to make the most of what you have.The first important step is to look at the space you have to work with and measure the ‘useable’ area. This way when you go shopping for furniture you know exactly what you can work with and what you can’t!

As a starting point try and buy the best quality pieces that you can afford.

Good outdoor furniture made from appropriate materials such as marine grade stainless steel and suitable outdoor timbers are an investment and will last you a life-time. Cheap inferior products will simply have to be replaced over and over.

Pieces should also be low maintenance, look at timbers that don’t need oiling. Do not stain outdoor timber, let pieces weather naturally. Most timbers will weather to a driftwood silver colour and look beautiful for many years to come.

Give your furniture a regular wash and light sand once or twice a year to keep it looking at its best and feeling silky and smooth.

It's important to look for flexibility with your outdoor pieces. For example perhaps two tables that can be used separately and also together is a better option than just the one large central piece. If you have a very narrow area you need to consider having a table custom-made to suit the space. As a rule of thumb don’t go narrower than about 650mm as you will feel you are ‘in each other’s space’ if sitting opposite. When having a narrow table made keep the benches in proportion but don’t go narrower than about 330mm or you will not feel comfortable.

On the other hand if you have the luxury of a wide deck or verandah by having a table with a 1200mm width you will comfortably accommodate two guests rather than one on each end. Also in a large area why not consider a square table -1500mm x 1500mm will seat 8 comfortably and allows for easy conversation between everyone. Round tables are the best for social interaction and I recommended a 1200 diameter unless you have plenty of space in which case maybe a 1500 diameter.

With rectangular tables the most popular width if you have the room is 1000mm as this allows room for platters in the middle of the table. With most chairs being between 300mm-450mm deep remember to allow a minimum depth of 500mm for each chair, to allow guests ample room to get in and out from the table.

As a general guideline a 2100mm x 1000mm table seats 8-10 and a 1800mm x 900mm seats 6-8 people.

Also look at the adjoining areas, for instance if the outdoor area leads off of the dining room perhaps using benches rather than more chairs outside will give a much simpler uncluttered look.

With regard to seating, some people definitely need back support to enjoy a long leisurely lunch where as others like the convenience of being able to accomodate a few more guests (especially if there are kids involved) with the use of benches.

Usually a combination of both is the best solution and also looks visually more interesting. With very small apartment balconies, rather than blocking a view with a whole lot of furniture and making everything feel crowded why not utilise the end space that is usually left empty.

By adding a bar table and stools not only will you make the most of precious views you will create a casual area to read the papers, have brekky or share a drink with your guests while you also keep an eye on the barbeque!.