Inside Out (Australia)
Summer is the perfect time to have family and friends over for a leisurely meal. Shannon takes a closer look at entertaining spaces and what you need to get right
Shannon Vos investigates entertaining spaces and the things you simply have to get right
The Block: Glasshouse co-winner and interior architect, Shannon Vos. voscreative.com.au
Whether it’s a tribe of 10-year-olds or the boss’s plus one and entourage, entertaining a large number of guests puts some of us into a state of raw fear. Entertaining has its challenges – we may serve up a dreadful dip or the music may just blatantly offend, but if your home is designed and set up for it, you’re halfway there…
An entertainer’s kitchen is the heart of any great home. It should be a hub that encourages conversation, movement throughout the space and captivates attention with its finishes, detail and design. It’s not only important to be visually impressive, of course – a great kitchen must foremost be functional. That means a butler’s pantry for storage and, to keep your space looking tidy, a walk-around island bench to encourage good traffic flow, double ovens for when that roast needs to be super-sized, and oversized sinks for the dreaded clean-up of said super-sized roast. An entertainer’s kitchen needs to be able to cater to the unexpected spontaneous masses but to also be suitable enough for the everyday routine. A butler’s pantry will not only help to keep your space clean; it will also help your kitchen feel less overwhelming. The best butler's pantries are the ones that you hardly notice as they conceal all the messy kitchen stuff that just needs to be out all the time; the toaster, the kettle and the night's dishes. This will keep the functional elements on show to a sleek presentable minimum rather than having the microwave, sink full of dishes and the fiddly bits and pieces all within the sight of the whole party crew. A sink or a cooker in the island bench will not only nurture sociability while you prepare a meal – it can also be a watch point for keeping an eye on the kids. A flexible entertainer’s cooking space is all about having multiple purposes while still maintaining its visual aesthetic. Look to smart appliances that cater to these very points. Neff’s ‘Slide & Hide’ range of ovens (neff.com.au) feature a fully retractable oven door, enabling direct access to the oven’s interior, as well as being a space and safety-smart choice. Smeg’s ‘SmartSense Plus’ induction cooktops (smeg.com.au) are powerhouse units that seamlessly blend into a black or white benchtop, giving you that sought-after minimalistic look.
The most successful outdoor spaces use different zones to cater for different scenes and needs
When the dinner is ready and the guests are champing at the bit, a to-die-for dining setting is an absolute must. Josh and Elyse created the perfect setting this year on The Block, and although their custom raw-steel table was on the small side, everything else about it was perfect. A large table is a must, and something that stands out will be even better. Try something out of the box, like a herringbone-patterned timber top, or even a table wrapped in brass or copper (it can actually be cheaper than you think). Make sure your dining setting can cater for eight or more, but be conscious of your space to ensure you have enough room to walk around someone if they're seated at the table, or open any cabinetry doors nearby. A statement lighting fixture is always a winner, and something linear that covers the whole table is even better (no-one likes a tiny pendant). Beacon Lighting’s ‘Orion 14’ pendant light (beaconlighting.com.au) is a great option. You will want comfy – but not lounge – chairs with a touch of personality. Globe West’s ‘Etta’ armchairs with the ‘Linea Sleigh’ table (globewest.com.au) form a perfect match and will be up to the task of any extravagant party, but also grounded enough for nights of endless homework. It’s also a good idea to have a few stackable chairs tucked away somewhere, ready for those inevitable surprise guests.
Everyone loves an outdoor feast, particularly with balmy summer days and nights just around the corner. There are a few things to get right before nailing that perfect alfresco space – an outdoor zone will really need just as much attention as your interior spaces. Firstly, you'll need good access and flow between your living spaces inside and your outdoor area. Consider stackable sliders or bi-fold doors – features that will really open up your space. A servery from your kitchen can be a huge bonus when it comes time to pass all that party food outside.
If you have the budget and the space, an outdoor kitchen is the perfect place (and the hottest trend) for all the cooking you’d rather not have indoors. Ideally, position the cooking and dining zones as close to the house as possible as this will help to blur the inside/ outside divide. Just make sure your kitchen outside relates to your kitchen inside, as all your spaces should. You will want to marry them together using similar tones or finishes. If the spaces can relate, the indoor/outdoor aesthetic will feel resolved and coherent.
The most successful outdoor spaces use different zones to cater for different scenes and needs. Find or create focal points throughout your backyard and build around them. This could be a water feature, a fire pit or even a spectacular view. Creating an opportunity for your guests to hang around these features with seating, custom benches or even a bar, adds plenty of depth and interest to your space and will encourage your guests to linger just that little bit longer. Lighting also plays a key role in the success of any space, so keep your outdoor living and dining lighting low and moody, but make sure you provide ample light for stairs, gardens and any trip hazards.
Creating that one ‘wow’ moment is pivotal in really impressing the Joneses. Whether that’s a dramatically lit architectural feature, an above-ground pre-cast plunge pool that does away with the need for view-inhibiting pool fencing, or taking the fire pit to the next level with a sculptural steel centrepiece. It’s all about giving your guests that one moment in time that they won’t forget.