What homeowners are going crazy for at Ikea and Bunnings
Our time at home in lockdown has meant we are taking a fresh look at our outdoor spaces and finding ways to make them more inviting.
As families weigh the risks of bringing children to playgrounds, some parents have added play sets and basketball hoops to keep their kids busy during the pandemic.
Backyards that were once a neglected afterthought where the children rarely bothered to play are now the main attraction.
Big-ticket projects, including outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens and fire pits, are suddenly top priorities, with homeowners calling tradies to see whether such projects can be completed during a shutdown.
Since March, many furniture stores have seen an increase in outdoor item purchases; from outdoor lounges and dining tables to flooring and firepits - which suggests many households are redoing their outdoor spaces.
"A fire pit can be just the solution to keep you, your family and friends enjoying the outdoors for longer, even during the winter," Bunnings national BBQ and outdoor heating buyer Matthew Hoffmann said.
"In addition to being a reliable source of heat, the right fire pit can add to the style of your garden and outdoor area."
Winter enthusiasts insist that with the right mix of decor, hunkering down can feel downright blissful.
"Pile cushions, blankets and throws can create an inviting and warm feel," IKEA Australia interior design manager Shona Jackson said.
Pull the seating area together with an outdoor rug to give the space a cohesive look. And make sure your outdoor design works with your home decor to create a sense of continuity and flow.
Candles might as well be the mantra of the cosy aesthetic. Set out tapered ones at dinner time and you might be tempted to linger longer.
A string of fairy lights adds a festive mood and LED lanterns can make a space feel inviting. Wrap a tree in a string of lights, or up-light your favourite one to draw attention to it.
"Hang a few different LED pendant lamps from the ceiling or opt for LED lighting chains to illuminate larger areas," Ms Jackson said.
"A parasol, gazebo or windshield can bring the indoors outside while protecting you from the weather."
Running water can lend a soothing, trickling ambience to your space, and many water features are easier to install. A bird bath bubbler is an invitation to feathered friends and a decorative fountain can add a creative touch to a garden.
Designate a side table for board games and puzzles. If everyone knows where to go to play Monopoly or Scrabble, a quick round or two just might happen.
The magic of outdoor entertaining, especially with children, creates a fantasy in a comfortable yet familiar environment.
Emily Smith and Trent Salkavich transformed their backyard into an outdoor haven to keep themselves, their kids Annabel, 6, and Ella, 3, and dog Sundae entertained during lockdown.
"We extended our deck and added a tiled sitting area and firepit and then flattened the grass area with a retaining wall on two sides," Ms Smith said.
"I wanted to create a tranquil and subtropical vibe that was inviting for my family to sit around and bust some moves on the tiles.
"We use the deck for exercise and meditation sessions, and when the kids' playgrounds were shut, having a flat grass area was great for the kids and dog to run around on."
Originally published as What homeowners are going crazy for at Ikea and Bunnings