The joy that comes with building your custom luxury home is not just having control over the indoor floor plan, but the freedom to optimise the placement of your dream alfresco in harmony with the interior and exterior scheme.

The alfresco is an extension of the home and should incorporate the same family of design elements right from the drawing board. We are sure your alfresco will be as unique as your own tastes, but to help ensure your open-air entertainment zone is a big hit with the guests you are sure to host, and to increase the value of your home, here are some outdoor alfresco ideas to help inspire your ideas for the ultimate alfresco.

Seamless indoor-outdoor living
The standard setup for most alfrescos in Australian homes is an easy slide-access from the living or dining room as a way to extend mealtimes to the outdoors. However, with a custom build you can take convenience to a whole new level and position the area alongside your kitchen, smoothly interconnected with a servery window. Ease the delivery of plates and nibbles in one quick passover, or have guests ‘order’ a drink from the bar. An overhanging bar from the window is a clever way to include seating if you are compromised when it comes to backyard space. Having direct access to someone in the kitchen is also an alternative for an outdoor alfresco kitchen.

Add shade and value with a patio or extended ceiling
Alfresco means “in the open air”, but it does not mean it is wise to dine in the open sun, especially with our harsh Australian climate. Avoid having to install a patio by opting to have the alfresco fall under an overhead ceiling extended from the home. While it seems like the most straightforward solution, it’s a great way to bridge the indoor and outdoor spaces together, and your alfresco will seem less like an afterthought.

Aside from the obvious benefit of shade, sturdy ceilings are doubly functional. When fitted with ceiling fans and lighting, they provide an invaluable source of comfort and practicality. Lighting can help establish the mood and heighten the appearance – recessed LED lights are modern and can evoke a simple elegance, whereas hanging lights can emit elegance in a more luxurious vein. For the floral enthusiast, the eaves grant a platform for hanging pot plants, freshening up the air and bringing in some vibrant yet neutral colour.

Entertaining guests all year round
Your custom build should be cosy and enjoyed throughout the different seasons. Whilst the sheer comfort of your home may entice you to hibernate indoors, it would be a shame for those celebrating their birthdays in the winter to miss out on an outdoor get-together that other birthday celebrants get to enjoy in the warmer weather. Fireplaces are not only a novelty for Australian homes, but they install an element of luxury to the space from its appearance alone. The mere sight of a roaring flame is inviting from afar, and instills a collective behaviour of gathering around as a group. Outside of winter, fireplaces stand as a good structural feature when designed to jutt outside of the wall. This provides inbuilt shelving options for plants or speakers, ensuring functionality for parties in the summertime. Investing in an outdoor fireplace will instantaneously add value when well designed to work well with the space even when not in use.

Sunken features
Another option to accommodate a fireplace whilst adding volume and depth to the space is to insert sunken areas. These are also a way to influence the flow of the outdoor space using design. You can foster a level of intimacy as people tend to come together within a sunken space, or crowd around embedded objects. It’s a good way to block out designated areas for a central fireplace, or a general lounge zone. Use volume to your advantage by using levels to create easy seating, like an amphitheatre. Sunken features are sure to turn a lacklustre space into one that is visibly and physically engaging.

While you have so many options to run wild with when designing your custom build, it is wise to consider function behind every design feature, as this not only saves space but adds a satisfying layer of justification to your choices. You will have an undercover alfresco that is not only appealing, but more likely to be used for gatherings throughout the year, or if you like to regularly savour a beverage out in the open. When the design is convenient and comfortable, you the proud homeowner will be the lucky one who gets to enjoy your ultimate alfresco the most.