In the words of poet Dorothea Mackellar, many Australians ‘love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains’. For most of us, especially this year, her ballad is not only about the far-reaching variety of our land’s ‘beauty and terror’, but our innate desire to be outdoors.
Blessed with more months of blue skies than other nations, it is no wonder we crave a good outdoor space of our own. Be it the backyard, courtyard or balcony, whether we are inclined to read a book, tend to our green friends or even play some friendly cricket, we take any opportunity to catch some Vitamin D.
Nevertheless, as the average block of land has shrunk over the years, our desire to make the most of each zone hasn’t.
According to Houzz, one in two Australian homeowners use their outdoor space for entertaining, the highest percentage of the 13 countries surveyed. The vast majority of homeowners (86 per cent) update structural elements, such as decks, pergolas, terraces and verandas during an outdoor renovation project; most wanting to extend their living space outdoors for relaxation and entertaining.
Architect and James Hardie ambassador Joe Snell says traditional design often dictated that we use a garden to present the home like a trophy, surrounding it and emphasising the outside from the interior. ‘Conversely, popular modern design embraces open plan living that bridges the divide between the surrounds and the home, creating a more outdoor lifestyle by creating an extended cohesive space,’ he says.
Beyond plants, pools and pergolas, according to Kastell kitchen designer, Daniel Monteverde, it is quite clear that the eastern states of NSW and Queensland, as well as the Northern Territory and Western Australia, are quite transfixed with outdoor kitchens. We could assume this interest is based purely on a greater volume of warmer days experienced in their climates.
Another reason for the growth in demand, he says, is that many housing developments include alfresco areas in their builds: ‘With the structure, lighting and even cooling or heating elements already included, it makes sense to go that one step further and add a kitchen area’.