19 October 2015 Ideas for outdoor entertaining Entertaining outdoors is very Australian. There is something about being barefoot by the barbie in summer that just makes sense. Great weather, great friends and great food on the grill and everyone's happy. Or at least they used to be. These days we've become a lot more sophisticated, and with a host of new trends in outdoor entertaining, many humble Aussie backyards are going from laid-back to luxe. Here are some great ideas to bring some bling to the old backyard barbie. #1 Outdoor kitchen A huge trend in outdoor entertaining is the outdoor kitchen and it's easy to see why; with everything you need at your fingertips, you spend more time with your guests and less time on the go. Choose a ready-to-install kitchen or go with a custom-built design made from a variety of materials like stone, brick, timber, stainless steel or marble. The kitchen can be as simple or elaborate as you like; basic features include BBQ, sink, benchtop and storage. Then there's the rest. Supe up your outdoor kitchen with some of these extravagant extras: Woodfired pizza oven – a great addition for cooking everything from pizzas to breads and roasts. Most ovens these days heat up fairly quickly (20-30 min), use very little wood and require minimal cleaning or maintenance. Wok burner – can be added to benchtops for delicious stir-fried or steamed dishes. Fridge – a bar/wine fridge is a convenient way to keep cold drinks at hand, saving you time when serving guests. Dishwasher – a useful addition when you have separate cutlery and crockery for outdoor use. Beer taps – to impress your mates with your favourite brew on tap. #2 Cabana Cabana, hut, gazebo – makes you feel like you're on holiday doesn't it? So why not add a touch of the tropics to your home with a space that you can enjoy all year round. Install a daybed, bar, dining table or sofa and relax with guests in the ultimate outdoor room. When constructing a cabana, use wall, roof and floor materials that complement those used in your home to create a seamless effect. You may choose an open-sided design or close it in and include bi-fold doors so you can open it up in warm weather. #3 Firepit When the sun goes down and the temperature dips, a firepit can be a real asset – adding warmth, light and ambience to any outdoor area. There are portable or built-in options available. Portable pits are generally freestanding with legs, made from metal, require little or no assembly and come complete with a grate lid and housing. Built-in firepits are usually made from materials like brick, concrete or stone to complement the surrounding landscaping. They are typically tapped into the home's gas line; however, wood burning built-in pits are popular as well. #4 Outdoor furniture Gone are the days of wrought iron tables and fold-away chairs. Today, outdoor furniture is stylish, comfortable and durable. Homeowners are recreating living areas in their outdoor spaces with dining tables, sofas, ottomans, coffee tables, cushions and rugs all made from easy-to-clean, weather-resistant materials. Stylish built-in bench seating is also popular and works well if you have limited space. It can be integrated into retaining walls or raised garden beds and include built-in storage for outdoor cushions. And if you're after something a little more laid back, why not invest in a daybed, hammock or some funky outdoor beanbags.