You don’t need a gigantic backyard to be able to enjoy your outdoor spaces. There are a few simple tips and tricks that help make the most of your outdoor areas.
We spoke to two designers to find out how you can dial up the fun and sun factor in your courtyard or balcony.
Top furniture tips
Choosing furniture that serves multiple purposes looks good and adds flexibility when entertaining.
“For example, a stool or ottoman can be used as both a side table or another chair when you have extra guests,” says Kristy-Lee Michael, from Valiant Interiors.
Courtyards like these at Ed.Square make great spaces to enjoy summer at home.
While terrazzo is on-trend, Kristy-Lee says she is now seeing furniture with manmade rope finishes as the new go-to.
“Roped arms, roped backs and woven rope finishes are really popular,” she says. “It’s polyurethane, UV, stable rope so it’s really durable, comfy and flexible for our Australian weather.
“You’ve also got some transparency through the furniture. It lets the light through, so it’s good for smaller spaces, like terrace home courtyards.”
Decorate your walls
Without using extra space, courtyard or balcony walls are perfect for you to get creative and add some personality into your home, says Kristy-Lee.
“It’s good to think about accentuating the vertical space as a way to make an outdoor space feel bigger.”
Popular choices include wall sculptures, wall hangings and green walls.
“If you have a sculpture or hanging made out of a hardwood or metal or UV plastic, they’re going to be absolutely weatherproof,” Kristy-Lee says. “There are lots of options too.”
When it comes to colour, courtyards and balconies are echoing the interior trend for native Australian landscape tones.
“Colours like rust and olive are really popular right now,” she says. “And they work really well in an outdoor space because they tie into our natural landscape.”
Light it up
Nader Ibrahim, a landscape architect from O2LA, says lighting is a great way to set a mood for a magical setting – especially at night.
“By lighting not only the patio, but also beyond, it extends the living space all the way to the confines of the courtyard,” he says.
The right choice of lighting can transform an outdoor space.
Examples include low-level lighting, bollard lighting and festoon decorative lighting, which are great for creating atmosphere and enabling easy entertaining in the evenings.
“They are also great at blurring the line between inside and outside, so you are really drawn from your living room to outdoors,” says Nader.
“At Minnippi Quarter, we’ve included ambient down lights above the courtyard to make sure that the outdoor space is welcoming and usable both day and night.”
Easy being green
Plants are the best – and easiest – source of outdoor decoration.
Whether you choose a pot for your fiddle leaf fig or a herb garden on your balcony, the options are endless to create an affordable, green look. They’re also a fantastic way to bring nature back into an urban environment.
The trick is to buy the right species in proportion to your available space, says Nader.
“For a sub-tropical feel, you want big leaf-type, hardy species, like bird of paradise or heliconias.”
“When we were designing the courtyards at Minnippi Quarter we went for lots of dark leafy varieties to create the sense of living inside an oasis and provide a cooling element in the Queensland heat.”
Then, it’s about how you place them.
“You might have perimeter planting in your courtyard, but it can be one-dimensional. So, add depth and detail.
“We’ve created the depth by placing larger varieties in the back and smaller in the front. It almost gives the sense that you’re living in a natural clearing.”
Pots on the patio with some trailing plants on top, a small shrub, or little groups of plantings do just that and help you live a greener life too.
Even a little bit of greenery can bring the outside in, like this winter garden at Minnippi Quarter, Carina in Queensland.
A private place
A fence isn’t the only way to create privacy – how about a planted wall? Green walls aren’t just a fantastic way to bring life to the space but can also offer privacy in a way that’s open and intimate rather than closed off.
“Just make sure it doesn’t get any higher than 2-3m, so it still encourages a view to what’s beyond,” says Nader.
If you don’t want the hard look of a fence, there are plenty of options including decorative screens and even strategic plant groupings.
Timber blade screens add privacy but also let in light, while a metal decorative fence creates interest to make your fence stand out.
“It’s important to create that sense of refuge and enclosure, but at the same time, there is that balance,” Nader says. “At Cova, we’ve used tall, leafy potted plants and trees to provide a softer barrier between the terrace home and villa courtyards.”
All pictures supplied by Frasers Property Australia.