[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] An outdoor kitchen is more than just a barbie and an Esky. Today’s outdoor kitchen comes complete with gas, electricity and running water. Creating your own outdoor kitchen is a big undertaking though and needs careful planning and consideration of a number of factors.

Location

Your outdoor kitchen needs to be within easy reach of the house, because you will find yourself running in and out for different things. Unless you make your outdoor kitchen fully self-sufficient, with its own crockery, utensils, cookware, etc., being near the house is essential.

Purpose

Before you begin designing your outdoor kitchen, you need to determine what purpose it is going to serve. Will it be basically a barbecue area, or do you plan to entertain large groups of friends? If the latter is the case, you need to think about kitchen/dining options and make sure you have sufficient room for both in your design.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] When you talk about the merits of wood vs. steel in construction, there are two opposing camps, both claiming superior benefits. But while both materials have their pros and cons, the one that’s right for your backyard ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Decking

Timber is the obvious choice for a deck. It is relatively cheap to buy, easy to work with and has a great look and feel to it, particularly when the grain is highlighted with a stain. Timber is also a more sustainable resource, with a much lower environmental impact in its production than steel. If you want to get technical, you could add that, for every cubic metre of wood used in place of steel, more than one tonne of CO2 emissions is avoided. On the other hand, wood is highly flammable, requires regular maintenance and deteriorates much faster than steel, so there are trade-offs on both sides.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]External Blinds & Sun Screens Uncontrolled sunshine through windows will not only fade your carpets and furnishings and make for uncomfortable living conditions, but will also have a huge impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Unprotected windows account for roughly 50% of the unwanted heat absorbed by an average house in summer, so with that in mind, here are some practical ways to protect your windows from heat gain and the sun’s harmful UV rays.

External shading

External shading is a far more effective cooling method than internal window coverings, reducing heat gain by as much as 80%, compared to just 20% with curtains or blinds. External shading can be either fixed, in the form of verandas, eaves and pergolas, or adjustable, such as awnings and shutters.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] Energy efficiency is about using less energy to do the same job, and there are several areas around your home where you can save energy and cut your power bills dramatically.

Windows

Windows are a huge source of heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Choosing the right window coverings, both inside and out, can make a significant difference to your energy bills all year round. Exposed windows account for about half of the unwanted heat your home takes in during the summer months. Simply by installing screens or shade awnings, you will cut down glare, block harmful UV rays and reduce the inside temperature considerably. External venetian blinds are also a great idea, with louvres that allow you to adjust the amount of light entering the room.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] If you own your own home and want to give your backyard a facelift, all you need is the motivation, time and materials. If you live in a strata titled property, however, it may not be as easy to achieve. The main difference with outdoor areas in strata titled properties is that the balconies, lawns and fences are usually classed as common property and nothing can be done to them without the permission of the body corporate. These are the collective owners of the property (of which you are one, unless you are a tenant) and, in order to erect a pergola, put in an outdoor spa, or make any other sizeable alterations, you would need to make a submission to the body corporate and obtain their consent before doing so.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] Contrary to popular belief, many historical buildings were constructed with sustainable living in mind. The Industrial Revolution led to a huge increase in energy consumption and a decrease in regard for the environment, but before that time, building techniques tended to make the most of natural materials and natural heating, cooling, lighting and recycling methods.

Materials

Buildings were made from local materials such as stone, mud and wood, which were more energy efficient and caused less impact on the environment.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] motorised retractable awning canberra backyard Outdoor dining means different things to different people. To a European, it means ‘al fresco’ sidewalk dining under a brightly-coloured canvas awning. To an English or American family, it means a picnic in the park. And to an Australian, it means firing up the barbie in the backyard. The history of outdoor dining goes back to medieval times, when hunting parties would enjoy a feast before setting off on the hunt. It usually consisted of various cooked meats and pastries, washed down with quantities of alcohol.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] Outdoor entertaining is a popular pastime. The addition of decking, shade awnings, a barbecue and jacuzzi can transform any backyard into an outdoor oasis. Add thousands of people to the equation, though, and what you get are great public spaces; areas where people gather en masse to enjoy the very best in food and live entertainment. This article lists some of the world’s most spectacular outdoor entertaining areas.

Las Ramblas

This is Barcelona’s most well-known entertainment precinct, encompassing three pedestrian streets over a distance of one and a half kilometres. It boasts a huge variety of outdoor eateries, shops, pubs, markets, exhibitions, bazaars and live entertainment. The activity goes on night and day, so luckily, when it all gets too much, there are plenty of places to sit and rest.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] When hosting an event at your home, there is a lot to keep in mind. Whether buying food and drinks in the lead-up or ensuring everyone has a great time on the day, you're undoubtedly going to have your hands full. In this article, we'll run you through a few things to keep in mind whenever entertaining guests, from food preparation to creating a great entertainment area with retractable awnings.

1. Send invites

First and foremost, you'll need to ensure everybody knows about your event by sending out invitations. The traditional way to do this is with paper invites sent out in the mail, but these days it's just as common to send the invite via text or email, or perhaps create a Facebook Event. Whatever the case, ensure people know when they need to RSVP by so you can have a good idea of how many people will be coming.

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]Retractable Awning Everybody (well, except for vampires) enjoys soaking up the sun. Summer weather is great for hitting the beach, relaxing by the pool or simply kicking back on your porch with a good book. However, the sun can also be dangerous -- vampire or not. Too much sun exposure leads to risks of premature ageing of the skin, painful sun burn and even potentially life-threatening skin cancer. From sunscreen to retractable awnings, in this article we'll take a look at four ways to protect yourself from the sun, so you can enjoy the summer months without having to worry about your health.

1. Wear sunscreen

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]Retractable Pergola Roof & Side Screen Here's the thing about summer in Australia: it gets hot. Real hot. Uncomfortably, unpleasantly, and sometimes even unbearably... hot. Sure, we spend the entire winter loathing the moment we have to get out of our warm beds, making our way to work in frosty conditions, longing for the summer months. But when those months arrive, the long, sweaty days occasionally have us longing for winter again. Whatever the case, in this article we'll take a look at four ways to make the Australian summer more bearable, from drinking plenty of water to installing a retractable awning.

1. Air conditioning

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" z_index=""][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]Retractable Awning Sutherland Shire It can be easy to equate awnings with old school rusty contraptions that block the windows at Grandma’s old house. But since its humble beginnings the awning has undergone a dramatic transformation to ensure that its functionality doesn’t compromise on style or design features. From the retractable awning to the many different styles and materials, there are many different options and benefits of installing awnings around your home:

Materials and styles

Awnings come in a wide variety of colours, fabrics and textures which can either contrast with or compliment the colours of your home. You may want something that will stand out from the colours of your home and almost act as a feature. Or you may prefer something that blends in with your current colour scheme. Whatever look you want to create, the possibilities are endless.