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A staple of an Australian home is the outdoor entertainment area - our culture of "throwing a shrimp on the barbie" starts with every living unit. For those who don't have the luxury of a custom-built design, such as a sunken garden or an inbuilt fireplace, there are still ways for you to style your alfresco on a budget.

Easy-maintenance

If you have the option to renovate, make sure there is a functional advantage than just a makeover. Any update to the flooring must consider the maintenance that goes into both upholding the space and the clean-up afterwards. A wooden deck definitely looks flashy and emits a resort-style atmosphere that encourages relaxation, but it may be far from relaxing for the person who does not have the time to wash and varnish the panels. Slabs of smooth pavement do wonders for sweeping, although shades of white are at risk of shoe marks and the worst receiver for spilt drinks. Opting for darker yet neutral flooring not only looks neater but adds some chic appeal.

Built-in entertainment

It may be time to get in tune with the current ways of sourcing and playing music, with tracks being conveniently stored or streamed on our smartphones and portable devices. Recently the 'aux cord' is becoming obsolete, so make sure to select speakers or boomboxes with wireless connectivity with your devices. Portable speakers can be utilised on many different occasions and locations, while also providing the freedom to be placed away from drinks and rearranged to suit any layout changes. To keep the area as spacious as possible, opt for speakers that can be hung. Not only are there lightweight, chargeable and waterproof options that also come in many colours to double up as decoration, but some also come cheaper than $50. There's no point forking out a fortune on a sound system that will become outdated in a few years.

Maximising your comfort

A breeze makes a big difference in keeping cool. Especially when combined with ice cold drinks in the shade, you won't need to waste your indoor air conditioning by wafting it outdoors to no avail. You may be tempted to grab some extension cords or purchase a wireless fan to place in the corner. However, in the interest of creating a free-flowing space and minimising the number of hazards in the way of people, chairs and sound equipment, it's a good idea to invest in a ceiling fan. Wall fans are relatively more affordable than their ceiling counterparts and can be placed on the pillars of multiple corners to provide maximum comfort.

Add colour or class with curtains

Other ideas to add to your comfort is to control the amount of harsh direct sunlight that still manages to fill an undercover space. One cost-effective and stylish step is to frame the eaves or pillars with drapes and outdoor curtains, which can be added as generously or sparingly as you see fit. Sheer materials permit the sun's rays to permeate through if you don't want to block out the light entirely while giving you the opportunity to bring in pops of colour and festivity to the area. Don't underestimate plain white drapes either, which instantly add a majestic touch and ring ancient Grecian or Egyptian tones.

Now, your alfresco is ready to be enjoyed, and all you need is to organise a date to entertain. With a revamped entertaining area that is inviting, appealing and easy to maintain, you'll never have to source a public barbeque at an overcrowded, overheated park again!