Barbecues, afternoon drinks, morning coffees, lazy Sunday brunches - there’s no denying Kiwis love our outdoor living and entertaining.
Tim Sunderland from David Reid Homes Wellington Region knows better than most about the importance of creating outdoor areas that can be used whatever the weather.
Despite first trying to convince us that Wellington’s notorious weather is a myth to prevent people moving to the capital, Tim says it’s important to maximise the space available to create comfortable spaces outside.
“We tend to go with a multi-zone approach, with more than one outdoor area, so there’s a sheltered space available no matter which direction the weather is coming from, or what time of day it is,” he says.
A U-shaped house with a courtyard between, for example, was great for sun and shelter.
While the scale of outdoor areas was limited by budget, David Reid Homes had plenty of options available from simple patios and ready-rolled lawns to outdoor kitchens with lavish landscaped gardens, he says.
When people want to get really creative with their outdoor living areas, Tim calls on award-winning designer Ben Hoyle from Blue Gecko Landscape and Design.
Ben says the primary consideration for an outdoor area should always be functionality.
“People often get fixated on the aesthetics, so the first thing I ask is what is the space for? Do you want a veggie garden? A clothesline? An entertainment area?”
“Once you’ve got your basic needs sorted we can start looking at how we’re going to make it really interesting and how it will relate to the house.”
For example, the entertainment area should be close to the kitchen and lounge, rather than at the back of the section where it will be forgotten, he says.
One of the challenges of modern houses is smaller section sizes, and it was important to maximise the space available.
The narrow space down the side of the house which is often overlooked could be used create an interesting walkway, breaking through to the main outdoor areas, he said.
If you’re on a tight budget, Ben recommends focussing on investing in planting - particularly a few mature trees or shrubs for privacy and shade.
“You want a good palette of plants, so chat to your local nursery about what species do well in your area and take note of the other plants on your street.”
One thing I always say is you can’t buy time," Ben says.
“You’re better off to get the plants in the ground, even if you’re still thinking about the structure, because a year later that’s 12 months growing time.”
Another tip for people with budget constraints is to attack one section of the outdoor area at a time, much like renovating room by room, he says.
“Instead of getting overwhelmed and trying to spread your time and budget too thinly across the entire project, you’re better off to focus on one area and doing it well, before moving on to the next thing.”
For more inspiring outdoor living ideas, visit one of our David Reid show homes around the country and chat to our experienced team.