We had a chat about outdoor rooms and living, and how the barriers between our insides and outsides are disappearing.

Celebrity gardener Jamie Durie

Aussies love the outdoors. Do you think this is why people are blending indoors with the outdoors? Or has outdoor living has always been popular; we are just doing it better now?

Aussies have always been known for their love of the outdoors, whether it be a barbie for lunch or enjoying a drink with friends under the stars.

But it’s only recently that our architecture has started to adopt a truly Australian style and reflect, and make use of, our beautiful climate.

Houses are orientated so that living areas open out towards the best aspect – the sun and the view and therefore living areas more naturally spill outside.

For people to feel comfortable in a space it has to have a sense of enclosure

See: Home Ideas Outdoor Living Collections

Are there golden rules to designing an outdoor room?

I think that for people to feel comfortable in a space it has to have a sense of enclosure, even if it’s just suggestive, such as the arching canopy of a beautiful big tree, a sunken area to nestle seating into or a wall of screening plants.

No-one feels comfortable exposed to their neighbours, the cold wind or the western sun.

outdoor room Australian house

An outdoor room sounds great, but expensive.  If I’m on a tight budget, can I really get my outdoors looking world class?

You can use inexpensive materials in very beautiful ways with some imagination and good planning.

Plants thrive when planted as small specimens and raised with care, soon catching up with the more expensive larger pot sizes.

Keep it simple and, as time goes by, and there is more money to invest in the garden, you can add to your creation.

The money you spend getting a professional to design your garden will soon be saved with the right plant choices and great ideas

If budget is not too much of a problem, but I really don’t have much of an idea about landscaping, where can I start?

I truly believe a plan is a great investment. The money you spend getting a professional to design your garden will soon be saved with the right plant choices and great ideas that they will assist you with as you journey through the process together.

Australian outdoor room tropical backyard

If I’m a hopeless gardener, how do I know what the best plants are for my garden/outdoor room?

Your local nursery is a great source of knowledge. They are experts on what grows well in the local climate and soil.

If there’s a plant growing in your neighbourhood that you love, take a clipping there for identification and confirmation that it will suit your garden too.

What if I live in an apartment, or a townhouse, do I really have a chance to make this area look good? How?

There are really stunning pots and planters available for sale now.

I suggest you choose (them) on the large side and have fewer of them. Plants thrive with more soil space to grow and there is less chance of cluttering your space with a busy arrangement of too many plants.

Australian outdoor balcony apartment

If I am concerned about the environment, are there designs, or plants, which are better for the environment than others? Or does every little bit help?

The best thing you can do is choose plants that are native to your part of the country. This way they are likely to thrive as they are in the optimum environment.

They are also likely to attract flora and fauna and won’t pose a weed problem.

Which is your favourite room in a house? Or can we guess?

There is no better place to entertain than in the outdoors. I love to relax on a pleasant evening under the stars and I find gardening very therapeutic and grounding. So an outdoor room, definitely.

Australian outdoor living room

Do you have an outdoor room? And if so, what is your favourite feature in it?

My outdoor room at home is my favourite part of the house. The best feature of all is a magnificent view of the ocean and the coast. I could watch it change all day.

Venessa Paech

by Venessa Paech

DEC 2013