Handy hints for around the home

Make the most of your home

The Forbes Homemaker Guide is back again to help you with all you home improvements including styling, maintenance and trends, along with a wealth of hints and tips. Click the Forbes Homemaker Guide link to browse the guide including this "Outdoor Living" story.

Making a wise choice outdoors

Gardens, patios and entertainment areas are no longer considered a separate part of the Australian home. They are an extension of our living space. To make the most of the space and find the right fit when it comes to furniture, furniture retailer Harvey Norman says there are a few things you need to consider when looking for the right piece for your space and lifestyle.

Outdoor lounges

Outdoor lounges are all about being able to enjoy the comforts you expect of a living room, just outdoors. Durability, comfort and easy-to-maintain are all essential items for outdoor furniture. Be sure to shop for lounges that are large enough to comfortably seat everyone in the household. If you love entertaining, think about adding some additional seating. For the ultimate in relaxation, consider lounges with a recline option which can take it from a comfortable seat to a daybed. Modular lounges are great as a tailored fit to a space by eliminating dead space. Lastly, pay attention to the cushioning. If you want plush look for lots of padding and support.

Dining

Aussie's love the great outdoors and dining outside when the weather is perfect can give a whole different feel to your evening. To maximise your alfresco dining Harvey Norman suggests opting for an extension table in a large space to accommodate large groups; making sure you have enough seats for the family and unexpected visitors. When it comes to space individuals need to have around 55cm at a rectangular table and 75 centres at a circular one. For serving, think about placing a Lazy Susan on the table to allow access and sharing of dishes once seated.

Barbecues and outdoor kitchens

There is nothing better than cooking outside. No outdoor area is complete without the barbecue. A barbecue is a personal choice based on preference of gas, electric or charcoal. Consider what heat source and flavour you want. One of the most important things you can do is purchase a barbecue which caters for how many months you wish to feed. As a guide a two-burner or medium charcoal barbecue will cook enough food for four to six people.

Materials

Outdoor living requires a certain type of furniture. It needs to be able to withstand the elements, even if it is undercover. It will still be exposed to all manner of water, dirt and insects, so it pays to ensure you have the right materials. You also need to think about how often you want to maintain the pieces. Hardwoods are beautiful and are naturally resistant to the elements, but do need regular TLC to avoid looking worn. Wicker is a popular choice as it is equally matched in style and durability. Lightweight, it makes for an easy to move around choice. Given it is typically built around an aluminium frame, it also means it is rust resistant. Want no maintenance and a modern look? You can't look past steel or aluminium with a powder coating for aesthetics.