Sunday 25 October 2020

Designing the Great(er) Outdoors!

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but with Australia’s beautiful weather and outdoor lifestyle, an outdoor room might just be the space that really captures the heart. This area that bridges the divide between interior and exterior can be an alfresco with a barbecue or pizza oven one moment and transform into a relaxation destination the next. With shrinking block sizes, the trend for outdoor rooms is a modern solution for modern homes.
With so many opportunities to enjoy an outdoor room, it’s important to consider how multiple functions can work together in one cohesive style says architect and according to James Hardie Ambassador, Joe Snell, 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.

Below are some important considerations for making, not just an outdoor room, but a destination that will feel like an escape in your home.

Start with the look
To achieve a Modern outdoor space, it’s important to understand the look of your home, a controlled Zen garden will fit perfectly with the minimalist elements of a Scandi Barn Look or Box Modern Look home due to the focus on encouraging the occupant to be mindful and look within. Alternatively, a natural style planting would be better suited to a Mid-Century modern aesthetic as the movement was built on embracing and connecting to nature. A Modern Coastal Look encourages native coastal plants, possibly with a hammock between some native palms. Meanwhile, using more bold, man-made architectural features would tie into a Mixed Cladding Look where vertical and horizontal lines are interrupted with organic shapes. It’s also important to consider the history of your look, a Modern Scandinavian barn usually won’t suit a tropical garden for example.

Once you know the style of your home, begin to incorporate this look into your exterior beginning with the façade, for example, Linea Weatherboards create a relaxed vibe with a simple shadow line that adds texture that’s reminiscent of beach huts and Hamptons homes, making it a perfect backdrop to a Modern Coastal garden.
Create continuity
By creating continuity across your interior and exterior, blur the lines between the two spaces, making the transition less jarring. To do this it’s important to have one idea or visual story that is brought together with consistent motifs and colour choices. An easy way to create consistency is through materials that appear to be the same. Painted vertical joint timber internal walls are popular. James Hardie’s exterior Axon Cladding works well as it provides a similar vertical joint look on the inside and can continue through to the outside. The result is a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. Despite having the look of crafted timber, the Premium Fibre Cement is resistant to flaking, warping or swelling and damage from moisture.
Less is more
All modern home trends share common themes that need to be adhered to in the garden to create a cohesive and continuous design story. Chief among these is the focus on form and materials over finery and ornamentation. 
Every aspect of your garden should be planned with a purpose. If it’s not necessary to the core theme of the home, take it out. This is especially true of pools, which often end up working against the design of the space than forming part of it. Don’t just stick your pool in the middle of your garden taking up valuable backyard cricket space. Instead bring it closer to the house if not into it!

Remember pools are much more than just for swimming, they are an important landscape design element. A good guideline here is to align the shape and dimensions of the pool to that of the all or part of the building to create a balance of form.
Know your zones
As with the interior, you need to know your space. If you’re building a new property visit the site throughout the day and take note of the prevailing winds and where there are opportunities for shade. Take a look at the views you want to capture and note the lay of the land.
With this information in mind, think about the life you want to create and lay out your exterior space to facilitate that vision. You may decide to put up a screen to shield against an afternoon southerly, or put a  children’s sand pit under a tree that provides shade during the middle of the day.

Decking can be a great way to differentiate areas. Use it to create an alfresco or pergola area that ties to your internal flooring or rear façade. HardieDeck works well here and is particularly well suited to areas around pools in place of timber as it is resistant to damage from moisture. No matter your modern home style, it’s important to enjoy your space by creating it with your life and style in mind. By keeping these two basic tenants at the fore you will be able to define your look, continue it into your outdoor room, take out what’s not needed and create areas that suit the way you want to live.

Find out how to get more outdoor with Hardie Deck and James Hardie Premium Fibre Cement cladding at

Till next time... are you wishing for an outdoor room too?


About James HardieTM
Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1888, James HardieTM has become a global leader in the production of interior and exterior building products, with operations in North America, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Europe.

With research and development and manufacturing in Australia, the innovative company created Cellulose Fibre Cement in the early 1980’s. This durable and versatile building material is used to this day to create board and sheet products such as HardiePlankTM weatherboards, HardieFlexTM cladding, HardiePanelTM Compressed flooring and VillaboardTM wall lining. Further modernising the category, James Hardie developed Premium Fibre Cement, which it uses in a number of ranges, including its ScyonTM range of low-density, thicker and lighter weight products, that have been designed to help consumers, builders and architects create homes that offer the best of style and liveability.

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