Al fresco living conjures up images of Parisian sidewalk cafes, Italian piazzas, island beachfront balconies and lounges set on rolling green English lawns. Whether it is the serenity of savouring the scene on your own or the joy of doing so with friends and family, the pleasure is undeniable!
Creating perfect outdoor living areas, for dining, lounging, socialising or relaxing requires a very similar design approach as their indoor counterparts; the same principles of scale and proportion, colour and light, texture and pattern apply.
“Outdoor living spaces need to complement the style of the home and its interior décor,” says Karina Palmer, interior designer and marketing director of AMERICAN shutters. “There needs to be a seamless flow and visual synergy between the indoors and outdoors, but most importantly it must be fit for purpose.” Designing an al fresco area needs to consider both style and practicality, here are Karina’s top tips:
1. Don’t only focus on the furniture and accessories but consider what is underfoot too; an outdoor rug or artificial lawn are great ways to identify the area and make a statement.
2. Crowding the table with wine bottles, ice buckets, salad bowls etc. is awkward and impractical. Set up a serving counter or use a drinks trolley to give diners more space on the table.
3. Good lighting is critical, not only at the table for diners to see what is being served and eaten, but between the al fresco area and the home for those kitchen runs and bathroom breaks.
4. Thanks to the relaxed leisurely tone of al fresco living, lunches become sundowners become suppers, so the space needs to be comfortable. Invest in good quality seating with high backs and high density padded cushions.
5. Being beyond your home’s traditional security gates, burglar proofing, and security alarm can make diners vulnerable which makes it difficult for them to relax. Al fresco dining is best enjoyed if security measures are in place i.e. the property’s perimeter is secure, a panic button is at hand for a call to armed response if help is needed, or the area itself is secured in a stylish way that does not impede the outdoor vibe. Security Shutters are ideal for this purpose; they can be installed outdoors, they can be fully opened or locked for ultimate security, and they have the same aesthetic beauty of traditional wooden shutters, but are far more attractive than traditional security gates.