With summer now firmly on their doorsteps, home owners will be looking forward to spending as much time outside their homes as they do inside them. Whether it be on a small apartment balcony or in a large yard with layered decks, there’s no denying the appeal of the outdoors.
“We are blessed with one of the best climates in the world, where outdoor living is possible almost all year round. From early childhood, some of our best memories have been of times spent in the great outdoors...Food tastes better, and life is sweeter when surrounded by our natural environment and the sounds of nature,” says Homewood’s Dave Macdonald.
Outdoor entertaining can provide a casual environment for family and friends, or a great place for theme-based parties. But, for the best experience, there are a few key elements on which you shouldn’t compromise.
Outdoor furniture will always play the most crucial part in any outdoor space, and with recent technical developments in the fabrics and materials used, there is a lot more variety available on the market. Beautiful, luxurious fabrics that are fade-resistant, UV-resistant and mould-resistant make it possible to ensure protection against the elements and better longevity.
In terms of trends, it appears the natural, warm look and feel of timber is making a comeback. We are starting to see more of fully upholstered outdoor furniture which will look as elegant in your home as it will next to the pool. Outdoor leather is particularly exciting and is a luxurious alternative to conventional outdoor fabrics.
Bianca Ungerer from Marlanteak says it is exactly these kinds of developments in fabric that have not just created added durability, but have also ensured these synthetic fibres are soft to the touch and offer the type of comfort we enjoy from our indoor fabrics.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to consider in your outdoor furniture is whether it is practical, comfortable, and compatible with the quality and style of your indoor furnishings. Maintenance is a key factor, with aluminium, stainless steel and other weather-resistant materials being good options.
“Be sure that you can easily clean and maintain your furniture with minimum effort. Upholstered pieces should have covers than can be taken off and washed in the machine,” says Enrico du Plessis from Corradi Outdoor Living Space.
But don’t be misled into believing there is such a thing as maintenance-free outdoor furniture. The sometimes harsh South African climate will take its toll on any material.
An absolute essential is shading, in the form of umbrellas, awnings or pergolas, to create a comfortable escape from the sun. And, as with outdoor furniture, advancements in the industry have yielded myriad options, ranging from permanent to retractable structures of all materials and finishes.
Kettal’s Pavilion warrants particular mention, as it offers a combination of options. Pavilion is ideal for both summer and winter, providing the necessary warmth and shade, whatever the weather. It is made from combinations of tempered glass, aluminium and composite wooden flooring, and provides a functional architectural solution for the outdoors, which can be taken with you if you move house.
“Motorisation is another trend which has picked up significantly over the past 12 months. More customers are motorising their awnings, and with options of adding sun, wind and rain sensors, the possibilities are endless,” says Lee-Anne Watson from Luxaflex Window Styling.
Last, but not least, on this list of essential elements of outdoor spaces is lighting, for evening entertaining. Lighting should be integrated in the design of the space, and add to its beauty without interrupting the look. Outdoor spaces have become a more integral part of our homes, and seamless movement from indoor to outdoor spaces has become a feature of most well-designed homes.
When putting your outdoor space together, be creative, but also do your research. Check up on the brand and company that you are considering for any installations.
When it comes to furniture, ask for a copy of the product specs, and warranties. Rather take a little more time researching and planning carefully, and, if you can, involve a design professional.
With thanks to Bakos Brothers, Bloc Outdoor, Cane Time, Creative Living, Corradi Outdoor Living Space, Homewood, Luxaflex Window Styling, Marlanteak, ORA The Outdoor Boutique, Tru Outdoor Luxury and Wetherlys.
Source: SA Home Owner December 2014 issue