Do you love a bit of outdoor entertaining? Are you all about backyard barbecues, dinner parties, kids parties or just relaxing with friends and family? Then maybe it’s time you thought about updating or extending your outdoor area. And nothing beats a deck and pergola for backyard entertaining. But before you start speaking to deck builders, there are a few things you should consider so you can plan out an entertaining space that perfectly suits your requirements.
What will you use the deck for?
First thing to consider is what you’ll be using the deck for. Whether you’re using it for barbecues, dinner parties, kids parties, pool parties or just relaxing with friends, how you plan to use the space will influence a number of factors including the size of the deck, the layout, the materials you use and how it’s furnished.
How big should the area be?
The size of the decking area will not only affect how it can be used and what you can fit on it, but also the cost of materials and labour to build it. When thinking about the size of your outdoor entertaining space, there are various factors you need to consider.
Firstly, it needs to be big enough to comfortably fit all the people, furniture and accessories you need to entertain. Have a think about how many people you are likely to entertain at any one time and how much space you’ll need to accommodate them. If you love playing host or you have a large extended family, you’ll obviously need more space. However, if you prefer small intimate gatherings or one-on-one chill time with someone special, you may only need a smaller deck space.
The type of seating and the layout will also affect your use of space. Will you need room for a full size dining table or just a few small cocktail style tables? Will you be laying out casual folding chairs or furnishing the deck with full outdoor couches? Draw out your ideal seating or furniture arrangements to scale to see how much space you’ll need. Be aware that you’ll need additional space to move around the furnishing and to fit other necessities like barbecues.
Another size consideration is how much of your backyard space you are willing to give over to your deck. Since any addition of an outdoor deck will eat into your backyard space, you will want to try to strike a balance between the entertaining space and your backyard or garden space. If necessary, you can create a flow from your deck down into your garden area to set up extra entertaining space on the lawn.
You should also factor in the size of your home. Adding a huge deck to a small house can make the house look even smaller. A good rule of thumb is that the deck shouldn’t be larger than the biggest room in your house. However, it’s important that decking size should also be driven by purpose and use.
Where should it go?
When setting up an outdoor entertaining space, you should also carefully consider where it should go. Where you place the deck will affect how conveniently you can access other areas of the house like the kitchen, living room and bathroom.
Decks are often located just off living areas to help create a flow from the inside entertaining areas to the outside. However, depending on how you’re planning to use the deck, you may be better off locating it elsewhere. If you plan to mainly use the deck for barbecues and dinner parties, you may want to situate it as close to the kitchen as possible. You could also locate the deck close to other outdoor focal points like a swimming pool or spa. Other factors that can affect decking location are shade from elements like sun and wide, as well as the best possible view.
Think about the shade
Aussie summers can be brutal. And if you don’t factor in enough shade, your deck can quickly become uncomfortable or even unusable on a hot day. Have a think about how the sun will pass over the deck during summer and consider the best shade options.
You can use natural shading from trees to help block out some of the sun. However, this means that you have no control over the shade and that the trees will block the sun on cooler days when you want it to warm the area.
Umbrellas are a quick and versatile shade solution, but they can be cumbersome to set up. They can also be trip hazards and a major hassle on windy days.
The best solution for managing shade is designing a pergola or canopy to go with your deck area. You can even include a retractable roof or adjustable louvres to control the shade.
Ensuring your entertaining area is protected from the prying eyes of neighbours and passers-by is important for the comfort and safety of your friends and family.
There are plenty of green privacy options available. Evergreen trees, shrubs, vines or dense hedges can be used to improve privacy while adding greenery. Of course, it will take some time for the plants to grow, so make sure you pick fast-growing plants otherwise you could be waiting years before they provide any privacy.
If you don’t have time to wait for something to grow, you can enhance your backyard privacy using a range of materials including fencing and screening products, a canopy or pergola, trellising, and outdoor curtains or roller blinds.
Taking the time to properly plan out your outdoor entertaining space means you will be able to get the most out of the space for years to come.