Make the most of your outside space with these tips for creating an outstanding entertainment area.
The perfect entertainment area should be designed in such a way that it can be used all year round. However, if you are an average South African, you're more likely to use the area during the summer months and apart from the occasional braai when things get a little chilly, choose to hibernate inside during the winter.
Insulation and heating
There are a vast range of outside heaters available which can be a lifesaver when the power goes out. Add a lapa or a pergola into the mix and you're basically good for go come rain or shine.
Thatch roofs not only look good, they are terrific insulators too. They also don't cost that much to maintain and although the initial layout may be a little pricey, they keep their looks for a relatively long time.
The type of flooring that is used can make or break the look you are trying to achieve. Decking is a popular choice, although it is important to remember that this type of flooring needs to be maintained, particularly if it's exposed to the elements. Your entertainment facilities basically dictate what sort of flooring should be used. Tiles, for example should be chosen with care when tiling around spa baths or swimming pools.
Lighting is yet another important aspect that will help set the mood when entertaining. A well-lit pool area is ideal for those who utilise their swimming pools in the evenings, but lighting needs don't stop there. There is a huge choice of outdoor lighting available and whether you chose to go the solar route, go with classy candles housed in pretty candle holders or install uplights or down lights, the correct lighting will add to the overall ambiance of the area.
Outdoor cooking has come into a league of its own in recent years. Gas braais, kettle braais, custom-made built-in braais and pizza ovens have replaced the skottel. A fully-fitted outside kitchen section, will, if the budget allows, not only add to the fun, but will also take the hard work out of entertaining. Even if the budget doesn't stretch to a gourmet outdoor kitchen, it is possible to create a decent working space that enables the chef to prepare entire meals outside. Indeed, the days where the men stood outside cooking the meat while the women stayed in the kitchen preparing the salads are basically over.
Perhaps the best news of all is that patio furniture has been revolutionised in recent years - uncomfortable wire mesh chairs (complete with plastic cushions) are out and comfy lounge-type furniture is in. The choice will depend largely on your family's entertainment needs and the number of guests you ordinarily invite to your home. Regardless, try and make your entertainment space as comfortable as possible in order to help you guests kick back, relax and enjoy the party.