Editor-in-chief of Australian House & Garden Lisa Green talks outdoor living with hipages
Last Updated Nov 24, 2016 · Written by Richard Kempthorne
Can you please share with us some tips on decorating your outdoor living space with materials that last?
- Choose furniture that will age gracefully – i.e. aged metal finishes which will patina over time. Or look to the hi-tech weatherproof synthetics that now come in many more sculptural forms, with soft cushioning to match.
- Select surfaces with a natural variance in tone and texture (eg tiles or decking timbers) to disguise any discolouring or weathering.
- Approach your outdoor zone as you would an interior: comfortable seating, elegant but hard-working table. Keep the investment pieces fairly neutral and draw in colour and pattern through accessories.
- There are such gorgeous outdoor fabrics now available that you really can create beautifully decorated outdoor spaces with scatter cushions and upholstered seating which will stand the test of time.
Photo by Anson Smart
What are your summer entertaining outdoors tips?
- Invest in regular clipping / mowing / weeding to ensure your garden / green space is looking its best.
- Set the table with attractive glassware, table linen/mats and crockery to elevate a simple BBQ into a beautiful dinner party
- Create a special setting by dressing a folding table on the lawn under a beautiful tree or in a leafy courtyard and stringing lights or foliage overhead.
- Lanterns or fairy lights for night-time glow instantly make a small space prettier.
- If you have a garden then spotlighting trees or flowering shrubs creates a beautiful setting.
Photo by Angelita Bonetti
What design do you recommend for an outdoor area that can keep you cool, provide shade but also allow you to enjoy being outdoors?
An open pergola-style structure in timber or steel, dressed with a creeper like jasmine or wisteria or ornamental grape. Hang gauzy fabric for special soirees or an alternative outdoor material for longer-term use to provide a shady, whimsical outdoor retreat.
Which part of a house is your favourite and why?
It depends which house and what season but I believe a whole house comes alive when you can throw open the doors to a pretty outdoor space and extend your living area outdoors from late spring to autumn.
What in your opinion are the key elements to have for outdoor entertainment?
- Fabulous lighting (a mix of statement fixtures - wall / pendant, and also garden lights to wash feature trees and perimeter planting with ambient light). An integrated BBQ and bench top / prep area or a more casual affair, a fire pit that you can pop a grill on top of. Fire pits are the new TV – and a great place for conversations with kids or guests as you watch the flicker of the flames.
- Comfortable, flexible seating to easily transition from casual drinks to a more formal sit down affair. A table big enough to accommodate 8 adults, easy to manoeuvre shade options. A lovely outlook or greenery and scented flowers are also pretty essential to create a real sense of escape in your own backyard.
It looks like indoor-outdoor flow is the new thing to have. What do you think of this trend?
It’s not really new but it’s certainly logical with a moderate climate like ours. And as houses start trending smaller and with more apartment living, the outdoor room or balcony is increasingly important. Furniture and furnishings offerings have risen to meet that need.
Photo by Maree Homer
What do you think are the key elements to a sustainable house?
- Having a home that meets your needs rather than your aspirations.
- Ensuring it is designed to promote cross-ventilation and harness thermal mass and that it is well-insulated to reduce the need for artificial heating or cooling.
- Energy-efficient appliances and sustainable choices in fittings and furnishings.
- As well as looking at how things are made. It is wise to invest in well-designed items that are the best you can afford because they’ll have a longer life cycle. Impulse buys that are tired or collapse after a season are destined for landfill.
In all the time that you’ve been an editor at Australian House & Garden have you seen an evolution on how people are using and designing their outdoor space?
The outdoor furniture and furnishings sector has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past five years thanks to a combination of technology and design. We’ve moved way beyond the heavy pine or teak setting to see lightweight yet sturdy structures, fine-lined curvaceous chairs, smart outdoor dining options that are actually comfortable enough to sit in for extended periods and more decorative furniture made possible by synthetic rattans and powder-coated steel designs.
All of this means that there’s a setting to suit all styles of homes - and soft furnishings to accompany them. The indoors-out/outdoors-in idea is perfectly at home in Australia and the latest outdoor designs can easily move between indoors and outdoors.
Photo by Alicia Taylor
In your opinion what is the indoor-outdoor lifestyle Australians love?
Australians love everything to do with the outdoors, and effortless indoor-outdoor casual entertaining has become an almost year-round ritual in many parts of the country. From serving breakfast on the deck on weekends to sitting around the fire-pit or outdoor fireplace at night, the backyard and garden are increasingly important to family life and to broader entertaining.
Photo by Maree Homer
Australian homeowners nowadays see the value of a house that responds to its surrounds and climate. How do you think this has impacted the design of Australian homes today?
Since Harry Seidler specified large panes of glass at Rose Seidler house to take in the bush views, we’ve been designing houses to draw in light and ideally, a view. Now we’re opening the whole width of the home at the rear for a seamless connection to the backyard. And many new builds in built up areas are incorporating protected courtyards to draw light into the centre of a home and create a view from all sides. More people are wising up to the basic principles of good home design and, even better, legislation has emerged to support design that is climate-wise.
Photo by Maree Homer
Based on your learnings from My Ideal House project what do you think are the key elements of an ideal house for Australians?
- Correct sitting on the block, with northerly aspect is paramount
- Good light
- Embodied sustainable design principles
- Good circulation – of air and people flow;
- Flexible floorplan to cope with changing family needs (eg a multi-purpose room that can transition to or from a bedroom or living space as the household’s needs shift)
- Ample outdoor spaces
- Areas where the family can connect and entertain and others for retreat
- A generous open kitchen and living space connected to the outdoors is pretty much essential
- The house should be considerate of its neighbours too.
What advice would you give to someone that is about to start renovating their home?
- Do your research.
- Collect images to help you build up a picture of what you like and don’t like. (This will help enormously when you consult an expert, something I advise you do).
- Try to futureproof your design by thinking about the changes the home will need to accommodate over the years ahead.
- Ask friends or neighbours for recommendations of good builders and other trades [hipages is a useful resource], do thorough background and reference checks and make sure you have a good rapport before you engage them. This is a big deal and you want things to go smoothly.
Can you please describe your ideal house?
Low-fuss but architecturally uplifting, thoughtfully designed, no wasted space. A home that is comfortable and fosters well-being, well-connected to the garden, where everything just works and every detail has been considered with the user in mind. It should nurture the occupants physically and emotionally, providing a true retreat from the busy world beyond without turning its back on the street and community. Neighbourhood is essential to a harmonious society and thoughtful home and community design has a big role to play.
Photo by Maree Homer
Lisa Green joined Australian House & Garden as Editor-in-Chief in July 2006 and has firmly established the magazine as the leading aspirational homes magazine in the Australian market. House & Garden is now the 4th most-read monthly magazine in Australia.