Bringing the outdoors indoors

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Porter Davis Alfresco area Porter Davis.Barossa.Harcrest.AlfrescoTHE outdoor room or the covered alfresco has changed the way Victorians live.

This roofed open space allows the householder to entertain friends and family year round and is particularly popular in the warmer spring and summer months.

The alfresco was introduced to new housing on a widespread scale in the early 2000s and has become more and more sophisticated. Its emergence as major part of the home occurred at the same time back yards were being scaled back in size due to smaller residential blocks being introduced to new estates. Therefore there was a push to maximize the home’s entertaining space.

Back then there was some scepticism about whether Victorians would embrace a covered outdoor zone given the sometimes fickle nature of the state’s weather.
But new homebuyers have fallen in love with the concept of an alfresco area where they can live work and play throughout the year. The covered outdoor area, which is usually attached to the house’s main internal living areas, has now become a “must have’’ for those thinking of buying a new home.

Housing Industry Association state executive director Gil King says industry feedback reveals the outdoor rooms or alfresco zones continue to be highly sought-after features.
And Mr King agrees that these covered outdoor spaces are becoming more elaborate.
“We have moved away from portable barbecues (in this space) to fixed, fully fitted outdoor kitchens with a sink, bar fridge underneath and a cooking space. It’s a bit like a tarted-up barbecue, but better,’’ Mr King says.
Porter Davis Homes director Paul Wolff says the alfresco has added to the average home’s entertaining space.
Porter Davis’ rise to prominence as a builder in the mass volume housing sector went hand in hand with its strong focus on protected outdoor living in its homes. Mr Wolff says his company “challenged the standard floorplan and focused on open-plan living with an integrated outdoor area’’.
“The vision was to create a free-flowing area that maximised the space available – extending the every-day living and entertaining spaces by creating a more useable back yard,’’ he says.
“The outcome has been a true evolution in house design, with most modern homes now incorporating an external aspect within the central living zones.  The Porter Davis concept of the integrated alfresco quadrant delivers an open-plan living room linking through to the dining room and kitchen, and opening out to the alfresco.’’
The Porter Davis chief says the outdoor area is usually enhanced with large bifold or sliding doors which provide easy access to the main communal living areas. He says allows the back yard to be part of the “visual aesthetic of the interior’’.
In other words it brings the outdoors indoors.
Mr Wolff says the alfresco can also become another dining space and an additional lounge area. A fireplace in this zone can create “a welcoming outdoor zone’’ in the cooler months.
“The area is completely functional and is ideal for interactive food preparation and entertaining as well as providing a casual and relaxed space for every-day living, dining and relaxing,’’ he said.

By Andrew Brasier

Published in The Indian Weekly (First Weekly Indian news Magazine in Melbourne, Australia)