Spring has sprung, which means it’s time for Melburnians to start spending a little bit more time outdoors! A concrete patio with an outdoor alfresco area is one of the best ways to enjoy your backyard on beautiful days, not to mention an excellent way to maximise the use of space, but who says alfresco living is only possible during the warmer months of the year? Here are some tips on how, with a little bit of clever planning, you can create a year-round alfresco area in your home.

  1. Put a roof on it

Weather is always the main concern when it comes to your patio and alfresco area, and for good reason – Melbourne weather in particular is notoriously fickle! A lined ceiling or covered pergola are some of the options available if you’re looking for overhead cover, while outdoor blinds and even the existing walls of your home are great for providing shade and protection from rain, hail and shine.

  1. Watch the temperature

A good quality outdoor heater is all you need to make your alfresco area just as welcome in the winter as it is in the summer. Panel heaters attached to walls, ceiling-mounted heat panels, gas patio heaters or even an outdoor fireplace are some of the popular choices, so do your research and take your pick. Is it too hot to be outside during the summer? Take the temperature down a notch or three with ceiling or wall fans.

  1. Make yourself at home

Ensure that your alfresco area is a welcoming space that the whole family will love to spend time in. Before you think about investing in good quality furnishings and comfortable chairs, consider how you would like to use the space. If it’s dining, pick an outdoor table setting and chairs that will seat your family (and guests) comfortably. If it’s lounging about, set up hanging chairs or daybeds with low tables for drinks and snacks. If it’s for games, read on…

  1. It’s all fun and games

Make your alfresco area the focal point of family activities by incorporating games and other equipment into the mix. Once you have a roof overhead and protection from the elements, there really is no reason you can’t set up your alfresco area to be the family entertainment hub.

Sandpits and paddling pools, outdoor blackboards with large coloured chalks, and storage areas for play equipment are just the start. Why not consider an outdoor chessboard, table tennis table, air hockey table, or even a hot tub complete with a corner bar area?

  1. Let there be light

Last but not least, a year-round alfresco area needs to have lighting for all seasons so that regardless of whether you are facing dark winter days or long summer nights, it will always be a well-lit, welcoming and functional space.

When it comes to lighting, the possibilities are limitless: from simple stand-alone lighting fixtures and wall-mounted outdoor lighting to feature lighting built into walls and ceilings, the choice is yours. Don’t forget to include floodlights for the areas that need to be especially brightly lit, for example the BBQ pit or outdoor kitchen if you have one, or areas where there are steps.