Australians love to entertain at home and we do it all year round, both indoors and out. In winter, the weather may force us inside on occasion, but in summer our parties spill out into our backyards and gardens. And thatâ€™s why itâ€™s important not only to provide our guests with a good time, but with adequate sun protection as well.
Modern awnings can extend your outdoor entertainment areas by as much as four metres. They are designed to absorb heat and reduce the sunâ€™s penetration, as well as stand up to the harshest wind conditions. They are rated according to the Beaufort scale, which measures resistance to wind speed. The higher the rating, the more resistant the material is to wind damage.
The two main styles of interior design are the traditional style, incorporating all that is ornate, comfortable and classic, and the modern style, where form and function are combined for a more clean and uncluttered look. This article describes the main characteristics of each style and those of a third style, â€˜transitionalâ€™, that combines the best of both worlds.
Traditional rooms are designed with comfort rather than style in mind. They reflect consistency, order and attention to detail and have a restful, homey, unfussy feel to them. Furniture is often reproduction and everything is placed in pairs and goes together. Edges are soft and curved and fabric colours and patterns are often muted and understated, with florals featuring heavily.
An outdoor kitchen is more than just a barbie and an Esky. Todayâ€™s outdoor kitchen comes complete with gas, electricity and running water. Creating your own outdoor kitchen is a big undertaking though and needs careful planning and consideration of a number of factors.
Your outdoor kitchen needs to be within easy reach of the house, because you will find yourself running in and out for different things. Unless you make your outdoor kitchen fully self-sufficient, with its own crockery, utensils, cookware, etc., being near the house is essential.
Before you begin designing your outdoor kitchen, you need to determine what purpose it is going to serve. Will it be basically a barbecue area, or do you plan to entertain large groups of friends? If the latter is the case, you need to think about kitchen/dining options and make sure you have sufficient room for both in your design.
A modern backyard is one that is characterised by clean lines and open spaces. It may contain a lawned area, or it may be paved or pebbled. There are no rules, other than it needs to be uncluttered and easy on the eye.
A modern backyard will often feature a garden of some description. Modern tastes lean toward native gardens, which are low maintenance and water-wise. It could also be a vegetable garden, or a kitchen garden full of aromatic herbs.
A modern backyard often has a deck for entertaining. The modern style is a square or rectangular deck, set low to the ground, so that it becomes an extension of the lawn or paved area. It will often have no steps or railings.
Your homeâ€™s green rating is a measurement system based on its water usage, waste management, indoor environment and, most importantly, its energy efficiency. The average household in Australia produces more than 18 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year and a lot of this is from heating in winter and cooling in summer. Energy conservation measures can dramatically reduce these greenhouse emissions, and having the correct blinds and awnings can play a big part in this.
Windows are a major source of heat gain and loss, adding to our cooling bills in summer and our heating bills in winter. Installing the correct window coverings can have a dramatic effect on your household energy consumption. It can lower the average electricity bill by as much as $60 a year and reduce carbon emissions by up to 200 kg a year.
When you talk about the merits of wood vs. steel in construction, there are two opposing camps, both claiming superior benefits. But while both materials have their pros and cons, the one thatâ€™s right for your backyard ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Timber is the obvious choice for a deck. It is relatively cheap to buy, easy to work with and has a great look and feel to it, particularly when the grain is highlighted with a stain. Timber is also a more sustainable resource, with a much lower environmental impact in its production than steel. If you want to get technical, you could add that, for every cubic metre of wood used in place of steel, more than one tonne of CO2 emissions is avoided.
On the other hand, wood is highly flammable, requires regular maintenance and deteriorates much faster than steel, so there are trade-offs on both sides.
Uncontrolled sunshine through windows will not only fade your carpets and furnishings and make for uncomfortable living conditions, but will also have a huge impact on your homeâ€™s energy efficiency. Unprotected windows account for roughly 50% of the unwanted heat absorbed by an average house in summer, so with that in mind, here are some practical ways to protect your windows from heat gain and the sunâ€™s harmful UV rays.
External shading is a far more effective cooling method than internal window coverings, reducing heat gain by as much as 80%, compared to just 20% with curtains or blinds. External shading can be either fixed, in the form of verandas, eaves and pergolas, or adjustable, such as awnings and shutters.
Renovating or extending your home is not as easy as picking up a sledgehammer and getting stuck in. There are several hoops youâ€™ll have to jump through before you can even bang in that first nail.
Who needs approval
Because itâ€™s your home thatâ€™s being renovated, whether you are doing it yourself or having a builder do it for you, you are responsible for getting any permits that are required.
If you are using a builder, he can take care of this on your behalf, as long as the contract you both sign clearly specifies whose responsibility it is.
Australians make more use of their backyards than most people. We enjoy a relatively moderate climate for much of the year and many of us like nothing better than to entertain or simply chill out in our private outdoor spaces.
We can experience hot summers though, while winter rain and cold can put a dampener on outdoor entertaining. With that in mind, here are some ways to protect your outdoor areas from the elements and make them accessible for 12 months of the year.
Having a retractable awning means you can enjoy the winter sun on your patio and then, when summer rolls around, increase the shade as the heat becomes more intense. Motorised awnings allow you to set just the right amount of shade and, because theyâ€™re fully retractable, you can store them safely away to avoid wear and tear in inclement winter weather. Available in a wide range of fabrics and colours, retractable awnings are a simple and cost-effective way to make the most of your outside area during summer.
If you are outgrowing your current home but arenâ€™t yet ready to move, creating more space can help solve the problem. This can be achieved in three main ways.
Altering existing space
Many homes have a lot of small rooms that are impractical as anything other than bedrooms because of their size. If you donâ€™t need three bedrooms and want a larger master bedroom or open plan area, consider removing a couple of internal walls to create larger rooms. The dividing wall between a kitchen and dining room could also be removed to create a large, open-plan kitchen and eating area.
Remember, of course, to check with a builder or your local council before knocking down walls that could be load bearing, as this would seriously weaken the structure of your house.