It used to be all about the dining room. Entertaining was a formal affair – a Sunday roast or family gathering around a big table. Despite those big backyards, we didn’t really make good use of them.
As our lifestyles have evolved to favour a more casual approach to entertaining, our homes have adapted with the times, according to Sold on Styling’s Mel Jamieson and Suzy Piani.
“Before 1980, houses were generally designed with the living and entertaining areas at the front of the house and the service areas, such as a laundry, kitchen or another bedroom, positioned at the back of the house,” Piani says.
“In the last 20 to 30 years, the trend has been to have open-plan living, with the entertaining areas towards the back of the house, ideally opening out to a garden area or outdoor entertaining area.”
Maria Selleck Properties principal Maria Selleck says space is now at a premium and the trend towards smaller block sizes has translated into home owners making clever choices with highly functional areas throughout the home.
“While blocks have decreased in size, the quality of the entertaining spaces has increased,” Selleck says.
“This is true for outdoor entertaining also. While once we entertained in our backyards or on verandahs, there has been a definite move towards covered outdoor entertainment, alfresco dining and deck spaces.”
Peter Blackshaw Queanbeyan and Jerrabomberra agent Chris Churchill says the kitchen is now a focal point for entertaining. The family chef is no longer banished to a quiet corner of the home, they enjoy company and conversation from the centre of an open-plan living area.
“The notion of mum in the kitchen and the rest of the family somewhere else doesn’t happen any more,” Churchill says.
“The kitchen has become an integral part of the house and that’s the key to what people want in the design.”
The way the indoor living areas are integrated with the outdoor spaces has also become increasingly important for home owners, LJ Hooker Manuka principal Stephen Thompson says.
“A lot of the focus has been on integrated living,” Thompson says.
“The kitchen and family area should link with the garden, swimming pool or deck.”
If you’ve got the space, but it needs a little work, a few simple tweaks could see you making better use of it.
“Create a natural flow from indoor to outdoor spaces,” Jamieson says.
“Sliding doors are an obvious option.”
Outdoor lighting can often be overlooked, but Jamieson says it’s critical.
“Use strategic lighting in spots where people can trip at night or where food is being cooked and softer lighting around the table and in the garden,” Jamieson says.
“String lights above a table are an easy way to transform a simple outdoor area into something fun and magical. A cluster of candles down the centre of the table is another simple way to create a warm and inviting outdoor dining area.”
Built-in bars, outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens and fire pits also make a strong statement, Selleck says.
“Water features are truly popular also – they can bring a whole new life to indoor or outdoor areas,” she says.
Churchill says if you’re styling your home for sale, creating a welcoming atmosphere is crucial and this applies to entertaining areas both inside and out.
“If it looks inviting and people want to go out there then you’re halfway there.”
Tips for styling your entertaining area
- Less is more – LJ Hooker’s Stephen Thompson suggests opening up the outdoor entertaining areas. “Sometimes less is more for furniture,” he says. “Open up the walls or spaces so it’s more open and you can enjoy the outlook of the garden.”
- Keep it cool – “Entertaining areas should look authentic, that is, lived in and carefree,” Sold on Styling’s Mel Jamieson says. “To achieve this, let garden beds grow in a less structured manner, group different sized pots of the same material together.”
- Or fire things up – “Fire pits are definitely in fashion,” Maria Selleck says. “The appeal of sitting around a communal focal point in the cool (but not cold) autumn or spring evening weather and sharing stories is gaining a lot of traction.”
- An empty wall is a blank canvas – “If you have a blank rendered wall near your entertaining area, such as the side of a garage, paint it a rich red or pop orange,” Sold on Styling’s Suzy Piani says. “Place pots in front of this or espalier camellias or fruit trees, depending on the wall’s orientation.”
Open-plan living area home’s ‘heart and soul’
It was the open-plan living areas that drew Kerrie Castles to her Torrens home 16 years ago. It had a welcoming feeling and she could envision parties, barbecues and celebrating birthdays and Christmas with her family here.
“The open-plan living area is the heart and soul of the house and the kitchen was a real drawcard,” Castles says.
“The kitchen is at the centre of the home – I can be in the kitchen and still be included.”
Her children, Arielle and Jack, have grown up in the four-bedroom property and Castles says it has been the perfect family home.
The living area opens up to a beautifully landscaped backyard with a water feature and paved area. There’s also a covered deck with a heated spa, which Castles says is one of her favourite features.
The home is set on a 1081-square-metre block in a convenient Woden suburb.
“Torrens is very friendly, the neighbours are fantastic and it has a great community feel,” Castles says.
Number 46 Gouger Street, Torrens will be auctioned on Saturday, April 2 at 10am, onsite. Phone Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Queanbeyan & Jerrabomberra agent Chris Churchill on 0417 080 460. EER: 1.5. Price guide: $700,000+. Inspect: Saturday, noon-1pm.
Holiday in your own resort
5 Gangele Street, Ngunnawal
Price guide: $1.15 million
Whatever the occasion, you’ll find the perfect place to entertain at this resort-style Ngunnawal property.
Inside there’s a huge rumpus room with a built-in bar, as well as an elegant dining room for more formal occasions. However, the piece de resistance is the spectacular entertainer’s courtyard.
The kitchen is at the heart of the home, offering easy access to the formal and casual dining areas. It is well equipped for catering, with a large Smeg oven, granite bench tops, Cata rangehood and Brandt induction cooktop.
The kitchen overlooks the family room, which flows through to the spacious rumpus room. The alfresco courtyard opens up from the large living spaces, extending the entertaining space out towards the sparkling swimming pool.
Overlooking the pool and spa, the courtyard offers plenty of room for large gatherings and includes an outdoor kitchen, complete with pizza oven.
The living areas continue upstairs with a second rumpus room and private balcony capturing serene mountain views.
There are four large bedrooms with built-in wardrobes and the master boasts an en suite and direct access to the pool.
Other features include hardwood floating floors, in-slab heating with individual temperature control, NBN connection, LED downlights and an automatic irrigation system.
The home is situated close to good schools and the Gungahlin Town Centre.
Number 5 Gangele Street, Ngunnawal is for sale by tender through Maria Selleck Properties. Tenders close on Thursday, April 7 at 5pm. Phone Maria Selleck on 0417 258 803. Inspect: Saturday, 12.30-1.15pm. EER: 5.