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How to create the ultimate outdoor entertaining space

There’s an intrinsic connection between the Australian lifestyle and outdoor entertaining. From hosting long summer lunches to those impromptu family barbecues and special occasions, our outdoor rooms are an extension of our home – especially for those who love entertaining.

Now that your new build or renovation is complete, you may be wondering how you can get the most out of your outdoor area. Here’s everything you need to know to create an entertainer’s dream outdoor living space in your own backyard.

The layout

Entertaining at home looks a little different for everyone, so before you start to furnish and style your space, consider your needs and wants. Are you likely to host large groups for relaxed BBQs, or smaller, more intimate dinner parties? Grown-up gatherings? Or family-friendly affairs?

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Start by measuring the space and mapping out the layout. Seek to create a welcoming connection between your interior and outdoors – never set outdoor lounges with their back across the indoor access, for example. Avoid overcrowding, too – it’s nice for guests to have room to stand and circulate, rather than being stuck in a seat.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an outdoor kitchen, place your outdoor dining setting nearby, keeping clear of any doors. Create separate zones for dinning and lounging if you can, or, if space is limited, a lounge setting with a good-sized coffee table can work for both dining and relaxing.

Comfort zone

Once you’ve finalised the layout of your outdoor living space, you’ll want to give careful thought to your guests’ comfort. Consider wind and shade requirements. Retractable awnings or motorised blinds with UV protection will provide shelter for decks and patios as the sun moves around your home.

Ceiling fans are a must in warmer areas, while wall-mounted or free-standing heaters will stop your guests heading for the exit when temperatures drop. A pretty basket full of cosy blankets is a low-tech option for chilly evenings.

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To extend your entertaining zone into the backyard, proper beanbags and a statement shade umbrella or gazebo are good temporary solutions for larger groups. Always keep mosquito repellent handy and invest in a high-quality insect zapper to keep critters away.


The look

When you’re searching for outdoor entertaining area inspiration, seek to extend the key elements of your interior design. Look for similar colours, furniture silhouettes and textures to those used inside – just opt for more durable, outdoor-friendly versions.


Use accessories, such as throws, cushions and even wall art to make the space inviting and build a cohesive colour story. Working with the colours and textures of your exterior cladding is also key. The soft render appearance of Hardie Fine Texture Cladding provides a calm background for colourful or boldly patterned soft furnishings. A horizontal finish like Stria™ Cladding, on the other hand, evokes a relaxed coastal feel.

Natural accessories in the form of pot plants are both practical and visually appealing – greenery cools the space, while attractively filling bare corners. For maximum impact, look beyond standing pots to hanging baskets and vertical gardens. Potted greenery also serves to seamlessly connect your deck or patio with the garden beyond.

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Bring the bling

Step things up a notch with one or more of the following accessories:

  1. Fire pits create a beautiful ambience while generating warmth, extending the use of your deck or patio in colder months.

  2. Water features make for a fresh and tranquil focal point while cooling the surrounding air.

  3. Festoon lights are the new fairy light. They bring an Insta-friendly aesthetic and relaxed vibe – install them for a party and keep them up for you and the family.

  4. Outdoor candle lanterns are a safe and stylish way to create a relaxed, intimate atmosphere when the sun goes down.


Now it’s time to turn on the barbecue, stock the fridge and invite your friends and family over to experience your little slice of entertainer’s paradise.

For more design ideas, download our Modern Look Book. A constant supply of inspirational imagery can also be found on the James Hardie Pinterest and Instagram pages.

Modern Look Book

Our Modern Look Book provides design inspiration and highlights hallmarks to help describe and define the clean, contemporary home of your dreams. Discover which modern look you love then use the images and language to brief your designer or builder.


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