Outdoor Living Design Tips

Outdoor Living Design Tips

2018-10-25T16:46:38+13:00October 25th, 2018|

Thinking of building a new house but have no idea how to design an outdoor area to compliment your beautiful new home? We’ve got you covered, take a look at our outdoor design tips and tricks for making the most of your new outdoor living space. There is no limit to what you can achieve when creating the outdoor space of your dreams!

Is It Hot Out There?

Thanks to the lovely big hole in the ozone layer, New Zealanders are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of the sun. When designing your outdoor spaces, shade and sun protection should be at the top of the list, especially in the sweltering heat of Summer.

5 great ideas for creating shady spots out in the garden are;

  1. Shade Sails. A big canvas sun shade, suspended by posts is a great semi-permanent shade option.
  2. Fixed Umbrellas. An outdoor umbrella next to your favourite chair will provide the perfect place to sit and read a book.
  3. Hanging Fabric. This technique still lets the sun touch your skin, but will lessen the harsh UV rays.
  4. Planting Vines Over A Pergola. This creates a fairy garden feel, and is aesthetically pleasing.
  5. Sliding Overhead Shutters. These genius contraptions are able to be left open during cooler days and closed up for shade on the hotter days making them very versatile while also protecting you from the elements.

Feeling The Cold?

Unfortunately it isn’t always Summer, and in some places around New Zealand cold winds can be a predominant weather feature. But that doesn’t mean your outdoor area has to be!

4 good ways to heat up your outdoor spaces are:

  1. An Outdoor Fireplace. Warm, stylish, and practical outdoor fireplaces can also double as a stove for entertaining. If fitting an outdoor fire you need to ensure that it is safety compliant.
  2. An Outdoor Gas Heater. Portable heaters are great for semi enclosed spaces, but can be dangerous around small children or animals, so think this one through before you buy.
  3. A Heatstrip. Heatstrips are a modern stylish, subtle heater that covers a large amount of space while being extremely energy efficient. Heatstrips are perfect for above your outdoor table to keep you and your guests cosy.
  4. Directional Orientation. As with the orientation of your house, your outdoor area should be positioned in such a place that you get as much sun as possible, while reducing exposure to the prevailing winds. Providing more than one outdoor space is also a good idea, enabling you to maximise the sun whatever the time of day.

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3 Key Outdoor Design Elements

Ideally your outdoor space will be beautiful, practical, and calming. But there is more than just heating and cooling to think about. Here are 3 key features to keep in mind when making your outdoor space comfortable and inviting.

1. Seating

Reclining sun chairs are a great option for few people, but if you intend to entertain large numbers your seating will need to be more space efficient. Think about what you intend to use the space for, potential numbers of people you might wish to entertain and the types of seating that will best accommodate your guests specifically.

Do you eat outside a lot? Then outdoor dining suites may be the best option for you. Prefer to lounge about reading a book in the sun? The sun loungers are going to be the best fit. Don’t forget to include children’s seating if you have few little ones running around,they will love being included and feel special if they have their own seating areas.

2. Lighting

Entertaining outdoors at night inevitably involves the need for lighting of some kind. Strategic use of good outdoor lighting can make or break your outdoor design.

Some tried and tested outdoor lighting ideas are:

  • Strategically placed LED’s to compliment the beauty of your house.
  • Big elaborate lamps, or small dainty table lamps. Do make sure they are intended for use outside, are durable and safe.
  • Solar lights to light up pathways or around patio areas.
  • Moon lighting” created by placing lights high in trees gives the effect of natural moonlight, with light shining through between leaves.
  • Fairy lights, particularly when placed around the edges of pergolas or hanging overhead can be particularly effective.

3. Flooring

What is the one thing that every outdoor area has in common? Flooring, of course. When considering flooring, think about the style you want to achieve, how hot it will be in the summer, how cold it will be in the winter.

If you’re unsure of the kind of feel you want, look at your flooring as the foundation for your design.

  • Wood is a great option for any outdoor areas, it dissipates heat and stays warm without being scalding. Wood can be stained to fit any colour scheme, or even painted in bright colours.
  • Bricks or pavers are cheap, attractive, and come in a variety of natural colours. Keep in mind, however, that bricks store heat in the summer and dissipate it in the winter, which can make them uncomfortable underfoot at times.
  • Outdoor tiles come in many different colours and shapes; there are thousands of different tiling options that you can choose from.
  • Stamped concrete or exposed aggregate are also relatively affordable options, easily installed and maintained.

Outdoor Living Design – Thinking Ahead

Thinking about electrical wiring and outlets, allowances for children and indoor/outdoor flow along with leveling the section before you begin your landscaping will help to future-proof your outdoor spaces and save you money and hassles with having to dig things up and move things around in the future.

Electrical Wiring

When building your home it is a good idea to take into consideration the number of outdoor electrical outlets. Preemptively installing cables and outdoor rated power outlets is a cheaper and easier option than installing them after the house has been built.

You may not need them right now, but there are many reasons outdoor electrical outlets can be useful in the future including:

  • For heating
  • Speakers and sound systems
  • Spa pools
  • Phone charging stations
  • Fairy lights
  • Hosting live bands
  • Children’s parties

Child Friendliness

Imagine you’re sitting on the couch, enjoying a cup of tea on a nice day and you hear the kids arguing outside. If you are unable to see what is going on then leaving them alone in the backyard can be stressful.

If you’re building a house and you have kids, think about making sure your outdoor area is visible from inside the house. Sliding doors are a great feature in this situation, providing good visibility and easy access.

Feng Shui Or ‘Flow’

There are many other reasons that having a visible and easily accessible outdoor space is helpful. Creating good Feng Shui or energy flow within the house and garden is one of them.

Feng Shui can be important in terms of planning your indoor and outdoor spaces in order to align with its underlying principles of prosperity, health, and well-being. Ideally you want the style of the indoors to continue outdoors, bringing a sense of continuity or flow.


Bumpy, uneven dirt and grass is a common sight in any areas of New Zealand. Before doing any landscaping, it is important that you level the site so you have a nice, flat canvas to begin your design dream.

A good idea is to consider leveling the property before building to avoid any landscaping issues afterwards if the house is a different level to the rest of the land.

A little out of your depth? Create the perfect outdoor space for you and your family with the help of outdoor design experts and get it right first time!


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