As Spring approaches, thoughts turn to those long days of sunshine ahead and ways we can maximise our outdoor living space. It’s literally an extension of your home, so if you can find an easy way to turn a barren, unusable space into an inviting, resort-style balcony or courtyard, then what are you waiting for?
There are a few key things to remember when creating an outdoor room:
- Privacy is important; you can often achieve this through screening or vegetation
- Make it as multi-purpose as possible (eg, a lounging, eating and possibly even cooking area)
- Make sure there’s sufficient shade
- If you can factor in some storage, all the better
- Create a smooth indoor/outdoor flow so there’s no jarring transition when you step outside.
With those pointers in mind, here are two courtyard makeovers that can be tackled in a weekend, and use the warmth of merbau timber to soften the surrounding surfaces.
This half-day makeover relied almost entirely on paint, plants and a flexible DIY decking system to transform a bleak slab of concrete into a beautiful outdoor room, for around $5,000.
I started with an industrial clean, then painted the walls a muted grey and used Good Times modular decking system for the hard surfaces, and for screening on both sides that were overlooked by neighbours. It also worked perfectly as a day bed, creating a cosy lounging area for the owners. The beauty of this DIY system is that you don’t need any holes or footings; you simply lay the framing straight over the top of what’s there. Plants, rustic pots and artful styling provide the homely touches that turn it into a true outdoor room.
This 12 square metre courtyard in Sydney’s Chippendale flowed out from an inner city studio, so was valuable space that had basically been relegated to a clothes-drying area. Engulfed in greenery, it had the potential to be an inner city oasis, but was anything but!
For around $3,000, I turned it into a proper outdoor entertaining area, with merbau decking boards, a daybed, integrated barbecue and bench, and a foldaway table. The deck was raised to make it level with the studio floor, creating that all-important, seamless indoor/outdoor flow.
It now easily doubles as an outdoor kitchen, as well as a calming oasis to relax in.
–Cherie Barber is the director of Renovating for Profit, a company that teaches everyday people how to buy and renovate properties for a profit.