Designing The Ultimate Outdoor Entertainment Area - Business Media MAGS


Designing The Ultimate Outdoor Entertainment Area

An appealing outdoor living area will enhance your enjoyment of your home and add to its value. Cobus Odendaal, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Johannesburg and Randburg, shares some advice for creating the ultimate summertime venue in your home.

Summertime is synonymous with outdoor gatherings, garden parties and the national South African pastime – the braai. Creating the ultimate backyard space for these occasions not only enhances your enjoyment of your home, but also its value.

We’re blessed with the perfect climate for outdoor entertaining, and from as early as September, we can start spending time outdoors in the evening. An appealing outdoor entertainment area features high on many buyer’s wish lists, so it makes good sense to create an inviting outdoor space to share with family and friends and attract more buyers when the time comes to sell.

A beautiful small, urban backyard garden featuring a tumbled paver patio, flagstone stepping stones, and a variety of trees, shrubs and perennials add colour and year round interest.

Although a large budget can certainly make it easier to create the dream entertainment area, it can also be done on a shoestring with some forethought, planning and imagination. 

Before you start buying materials and furniture, you need a well-thought-out plan and to consider some key elements.

Layout and flow: think about how you want your backyard organised. Designate areas for cooking, dining, lounging and entertainment and ensure a smooth flow between these zones for easy access during parties.

Backyard hardscape entertainment area

Budget: determine your budget for the project, taking into account landscaping, furniture and equipment costs. Research what is available and shop around. Be realistic about what you can afford.

Permits and regulations: check local regulations, such as zoning laws and building permits, before making any major changes to your backyard.

Landscaping: plan your greenery, from flowers and shrubs to trees and lawn space. Consider using indigenous plants to reduce maintenance and water usage.

The dining area

When creating the ideal dining area, it’s worth spending a little money and time rather than just trying to fill the available space with your old furniture. If your budget and available space permits, install a patio or deck as the foundation for your outdoor dining space. It clearly defines the area and provides a stable and comfortable surface for tables and chairs.

It’s also worth investing in weather-resistant dining sets and comfortable seating options. Materials, such as teak or aluminium, are durable, look great year-round and can be brightened with colourful removable cushions.

As much as we enjoy the sun, dining in its full midday glare is not advisable, so add an umbrella, pergola or retractable awning to provide shade during hot summer days or shelter from unexpected rain showers.

Finally, install outdoor lighting to create an ambience during the evening. String lights or lanterns and light the pathways.

3D illustration of urban terrace at twilight with fire place and wooden table. Teak wood bioclimatic pergola and flooring.

The perfect cooking space

Choose the best quality braai you can afford that suits your needs. Consider built-in options for a seamless look. You can also elevate your cooking game with an outdoor kitchen complete with countertops, sinks and storage that not only add functionality, but also enhance the overall appeal of your backyard. And for those cooler evenings, a fire pit or outdoor fireplace can be the centrepiece of your backyard gathering. 

The added extras 

These are largely dependent on budget and taste, but can finish off your outdoor entertainment area beautifully. Add outdoor rugs to define seating areas and infuse style into your backyard, incorporate colourful cushions and pillows to make your outdoor seating more inviting and comfortable and hang outdoor-friendly artwork or sculptures to personalise your space and add visual interest.

3D render of luxury side view outdoor garden with teak wooden deck and black pergola at dawn. Twilight scene with sofas and deck chairs next to the swimming pool.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s worth considering an outdoor sound system – just ensure it’s weatherproof and integrates well into your backyard design.

And, if space and budget allow, a plunge pool or hot tub can be a luxurious addition to your backyard. 

On a more practical level, it’s a good idea to invest in outdoor storage solutions for cushions, garden tools and equipment to protect them from the elements.

Pitfalls to avoid

To ensure your outdoor space truly shines, it is essential to avoid some common pitfalls.

Neglecting planning: one of the biggest mistakes is jumping into the project without a well-thought-out plan. Take time to consider layout, budget and your specific needs to prevent hasty and potentially costly decisions.

Overcrowding the space: while it’s tempting to fit in as much as possible, overcrowding can lead to discomfort and a cluttered appearance. Leave enough room for guests to move comfortably.

Ignoring local regulations: failing to check local regulations and zoning laws can lead to costly setbacks. Always ensure your backyard modifications comply with local rules and obtain any necessary permits because this can be an issue when it’s time to sell and you need to present the buyer with approved plans.

Disregarding shade: lack of shade can make your backyard unbearable during scorching summer days.

Neglecting lighting: inadequate or poorly placed lighting can be a safety hazard and affect the ambience of your outdoor space. Plan your lighting scheme carefully to create a warm and inviting atmosphere after dark.

Neglecting pest control: summertime often comes with unwanted guests in the form of insects. To keep your outdoor space pest-free, invest in citronella candles or torches to deter mosquitoes. Consider installing screens or netting around seating areas to keep flies and other pests at bay. Natural remedies, for example, planting mosquito-repelling plants or using essential oil sprays, can also be effective.

Neglecting maintenance: a beautifully designed backyard can quickly lose its charm if you neglect maintenance. Regularly clean and care for your outdoor furniture, grill and landscaping to keep everything looking its best.

A tropical modern villa exterior view with built in sofa

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