WORDS Lynette Botha PORTRAITS Guillaume Bosch, Karl Rogers and Shavan Rahim
Make the most of your pool, patio and outdoor entertaining areas with tips and tricks from those in the know.
More affectionately known as Jan Braai, Jan is a cookbook author, a TV show host, a braai master, and the founder and driving force behind National Braai Day, celebrated on 24 September (South Africa’s Heritage Day) each year. As an avid outdoor cook, this is what he says you’ll need for the ultimate braai area(s):
“In my opinion, your home needs at least two braai areas – one that can be used any day of the year, irrespective of the weather; and one for sitting around outdoors. The former is a built-in braai with a chimney, either in your kitchen or on your terrace. Of the two, I prefer the kitchen for this type of braai, as it is in close proximity to everything I need to cook with – culinary equipment, ingredients and
the like. I also love the traditional feel of what is, effectively, a hearth – you should aim for at least
1.2 metres in width to fit two grids and a potjie.
The fully outdoor braai should have enough space for you and your guests to sit around – this version doesn’t require a chimney, and should not be built against a wall. I’m not a fan of a firepit; I prefer an altar for the outdoor braai area, built above ground level, around knee height.”
Things to Consider
- If you choose to install a terrace braai or create a braai room, you basically need to duplicate your kitchen in this area – think sink, fridge and pantry.
- For an outdoor braai altar, the perfect level is the exact height of your kneecap when barefoot – this ensures a good height for sitting around, but not so low that you’ll break your back when bending down to flip a burger or stir the potjie.
- Whether round or square, the altar needs a surface area of at least one squared metre to fit a fire and two grids at the same time. Big is good – but for home use, too big is impractical if you cannot reach the centre.
- The biggest issue with an altar is smoke, so its positioning is vital. Braai in various locations of your home with a portable braai – in all seasons – before deciding on the final location of the “fixed” altar.
- Choose a spot with a slight draft, and where smoke will not filter into your home. A complete lack of draft is a bad thing; the smoke will just hang around.
- Install a simple countertop-height workbench or concrete counter, preferably with a tap and a sink. Add some hooks to hang your grids and tongs.
- Remember: a covered spot to stack dry firewood is imperative!
As the founder and director of ONE Design and Development – an interior design and project management company – Anlo is well versed in the important role that an outdoor lounge and entertainment area play. He shares his considerations for this part of the home:
“When designing an outdoor living area, I always start by asking my clients whether they prefer entertaining around a table or in a lounge setting. This determines the basis for all that follows.
It’s important to create a ‘destination’ when designing this space: it should have a purpose and a strong identity and, most importantly, it should be a space that you gravitate towards – an area where you want to relax and socialise. Make sure the area is comfortable, and ticks off all your entertaining needs.”
Things to Consider
- Think about the way in which the elements – rain, sun, wind – will affect the area. You should be able to use your outdoor space throughout the year.
- Ensure that the main house and the outdoor area connect, and that there’s a natural flow between the two.
- Make sure you install ample electrical points, good lighting and a water supply point.
- Choose furniture that is hard-wearing and able to withstand all kinds of weather. Furniture and softs need to be outdoor- friendly – or at least undercover outdoor-friendly!
- Enough seating is paramount, as is a dining or coffee table, smaller moveable side tables and, if the space allows, a server or working space.
- It’s also important to include a variation of seating (couches, armchairs, ottomans and built-in benches) if possible – and remember storage space, to pack away recliner mattresses, outdoor cushions and throws when not in use.
As one of SAOTA’s principal architects, Greg heads up a variety of commercial and residential projects for the award-winning firm. A fan of homes that effortlessly merge indoor-outdoor living, he shares advice on how best to design your pool area, using his own home as an example:
“When designing the pool area, you need to see the pool as part of the overall landscape design, and look at ways in which it can be integrated into its surrounds. In our home, we wanted the space to feel like an extension of the mountain, so the trees and plants come right up to the house, with the tree canopy creating a shaded sitting area. The biggest issue in pool design is that people often overlook the need to create spaces around the pool that enable them to enjoy the area when they’re not swimming.”
Things to Consider
- Your pool should fit within its surrounds – it should not stick out, but rather be a seamless extension of your garden.
- The orientation of the pool is important, both climatically and in terms of privacy.
- The area around the pool is equally important – you need place for loungers, and enough shaded space to relax in.
- For rim-flow pools, the distance between the rim flow and the pump needs to be short, and the height from which the water falls needs to be limited. Falling water cools quickly, so more energy will be needed to warm it (if you have a heated pool).
- There should be a connection between your internal living space and the pool and outdoor living area – they should echo each other in some way, so they don’t feel disjointed.