The Alfresco Is Now the Most Popular Room in the House
Friday, May 25, 2018
By Catherine Nikas-Boulos, The Daily Telegraph, Australia
A recent study by a leading homebuilder found that the primary desire of Australian homeowners is “space.” It seems when we’re looking to buy a new home we want room to share a laugh and a meal, with indoor/outdoor entertaining a key focus.
While we know open-plan space has been a key trend in home design over the past couple of decades, the alfresco area is now the surprise key influencer as to whether buyers will be swayed toward a home design.
The Allworth Homes study showed that we’re now prioritizing entertainment areas that flow from indoor to outdoor spaces with a sense of ease.
Think back a generation ago, and the alfresco did not extend much beyond a pergola. The backyard was a place where children ran free, while parents entertained around a barbecue. A couple of stackable chairs were the norm, while expensive outdoor furniture was unheard of.
Allworth Homes’ managing director, Stephen Thompson, agrees that the alfresco is one key area that builders are now paying particular attention to.
“I’d say that 10 to 15 years ago, the alfresco just didn’t exist,” he says. Now, I just don’t see any of our designs working without one.
“We occasionally get someone who doesn’t want one, but it’s less than one in more than 100 buyers. Those figures are so small, they are hardly worth talking about.”
A simple easy chair or sofa with a blanket, side table, and some cushions is a great way to create an inviting space to cuddle up for the cooler months, alongside outdoor rugs.
Photo: Cosh Living.
Cozy outdoor pieces that are wet weather safe and low maintenance are best for winter alfresco spaces.
Cosh Living’s director, Shane Sinnott, says a simple easy chair or sofa with a blanket, side table and some cushions is a great way to create an inviting space to cuddle up for the cooler months, alongside outdoor rugs.
“Introducing a soft outdoor rug for your feet is a great option,” Shane says. Outdoor decking and tiles can be quite cold and uninviting underfoot. A rug will bring the whole space together, look fabulous, and make you want to stay outside longer.”
The right lighting will also create an intimate outdoor area. “Rechargeable or solar-powered LED garden lighting can bring a warm glow to your outdoor area,” Shane says.
Buyers are now telling builders that an alfresco space is a must-have.
Photo: The Altona by Allworth Homes.
What We All Want Right Now
A decade ago, homebuilders did not consider the alfresco as an important selling point. They were structures tacked onto the back to create an outdoor space, but they lacked character or any special features that might have enticed the buyer.
“Then someone came up with the bright idea of putting a roof on it, and so it became more protected from the elements, and from there it became a properly furnished room,” says Stephen from Allworth Homes.
“There has also been a cultural shift in outdoor eating. In the past it would be the builders who brought the trends to people, now it’s the other way around. Buyers are now telling us that it’s a must-have.”
He says that builders who are offering it as an ‘optional extra’ are missing out.
“Everyone wants it. If you are telling buyers that it’s going to cost them extra, you have a cross against your name.”
Freestanding baths, such as this Pescadero bath by Victoria + Albert, can create a tranquil oasis, taking in fresh air, sunlight – and moonlight.
Making a Splash Outside
If you’re looking to add a touch of luxury to the alfresco, outdoor bathing is the next big thing.
Jonathan Carter, Marketing director of Victoria + Albert Baths, says freestanding baths can create a tranquil oasis, taking in fresh air, sunlight – and moonlight.
“It’s very important when selecting baths for your outdoor area that you know what materials are used to build the bath, as it will need to be able to withstand a range of conditions,” Jonathan says.
Victoria + Albert’s baths are made from a limestone material that is resistant to thermal shocks, and its UV-resistant properties mean it won’t turn yellow in the sunlight.
You don’t have to give up your alfresco lifestyle if you live in an apartment.
Balconies Are Not Forgotten
While there seems to be a shift in Australia away from big backyards toward more urban and compact living, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your alfresco lifestyle if you live in an apartment, says LaForma general manager Lachlan Selwood.
“You will see individual alfresco oases dotted across the balconies of apartment buildings,” he says.
The furniture retailer says there is a focus on incorporating alfresco spaces into building designs, such as communal rooftops and devoted alfresco floors.”
Fire pits have become key to creating a cosy and inviting space.
Photo: Adbri Masonry.
Go for Glow
You might think winter would not be the most ideal time of year for alfresco living, but that’s not the case.
According to Allworth Homes, we now want to enjoy an Outdoor Room all year round.
Chimeneas and fire pits have become key to creating a cozy and inviting space.
Building a wall around the pit with concrete blocks keeps everyone safe while offering seating, says Adbri Masonry’s Jason Hodges.
“The ambiance a fire brings provides a natural gathering spot for socializing,” he says.