Many homeowners invest in sun shades and retractable awnings, not just for the protection and shading from the elements, but also to create great outdoor living spaces, otherwise known as the ‘outdoor room’.

Can you feel it? Spring is in the air. The sun is going to be out a little longer, our gardens are going to bloom as we all feel renewed energy to spruce up our homes and gardens.

For many Australians, that means outdoor entertaining is firmly back on the social calendar.

Outdoor rooms, which can be created from any outdoor space thanks to sun shades and retractable awnings, are completely customisable and versatile, offering anything from outdoor cooking and food storage equipment, to bar facilities, lounge furniture, sophisticated lighting, floor coverings and even sound systems. While they’re ideal for summer, many also include fireplaces, making them a great winter escape too.

If you’re thinking about adding a purpose-built outdoor room to your house this Spring, here’s four things you should know:

Customise for the size and shape of your property

This will depend on the activities you want to accommodate and the size of your property. Whether your outdoor room is small and intimate or large and spacious, you’ll want to create zones to separate the practical and social elements of the room. Ideally you should allow for activities such as cooking, conversation and relaxation without compromising access and flow throughout the space.

Shade is make or break

To make sure your outdoor room is comfortable, inviting and private throughout the day, you need to manage the sun.

Outdoor awnings are an ideal solution for anyone wanting to create and outdoor room. Superior engineering and aesthetics, as well as handy add-ons like motorisation that make operation smooth and easy, have made awnings and sunshade solutions a prized items for home owners, renovators and buyers.

Have a clear purpose in mind

Entertaining? Maximising a view? Solitude and quiet reflection? When it comes to your outdoor space, it can be customised to suit just about any desire. Architect Andrew Benn advises people to have a clear idea of the purpose their outdoor room will be serving before they start designing and decorating.

“An outdoor kitchen will save you making trips to and fro between your entertaining area and your stove or fridge. Inbuilt seating will also add to the feeling of permanence,” he says.

“And don’t forget, a garden is not just for entertaining; it’s also a beautiful place for solitude. Just as you might want a study area in an active living space, so too you might relish a bit of privacy outside. So factor this in at the planning stage and give yourself somewhere to hide.”

Take a seat

When it comes to seating, variety is the spice of life — particularly if you want your space to be the go-to destination for family and friends on long sunny Spring days and warm Summer nights.

“Benches, chairs, even pint-size stools: As many choices as you can include in an outdoor living space will help family and friends enjoy it,” says Kelly Roberson of Better Homes and Gardens. “Scaled-down kid versions allow little ones to seat themselves, while chairs are a more flexible option — pull two together for a quiet chat or add extras around the table for a big dinner. One tip: Don’t include so many that traffic patterns become cluttered.