Outdoor furnishings for the perfect deck

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Don't neglect your back deck when it can easily be transformed into an outdoor living space to suit your needs. Find out which creative accessories and useful furnishings you can add to your deck to ensure a relaxed and inspired outdoor setting for all seasons.

The deck or patio can be your outdoor living room. It's a quiet place to relax, enjoy the outdoors and put your feet up. It's also a versatile environment perfect for eating outside, parties and lazing about in the fresh air. Make the most of your deck by considering some of these outdoor furnishings and furniture.

A portable BBQ is great if you like to tuck away your outdoor appliances in the winter or if want to move it around during summer.

It's important to choose furniture that will match the purpose of your outdoor area. If you're planning to use your deck as a dining area for those balmy summer nights or an outdoor lounge for watching the footy with mates, you have to be practical in terms of style, decor and furniture.

Living space

When the sun becomes too hot to handle, you have a few options to keep cool.

Some shade can be offered by a portable sun-umbrellai, which can be moved around to wherever it's needed. Alternatively, for those really hot summery days, don't sweat it with a portable fan, air cooler or misting systemii, which will keep everyone cool.

For a fixed furnishing, don't look past a retractable awning or canopy that can be easily extended and retractediii when it suits you. The best thing about these is that they protect the whole deck from the harsh rays of the sun or pelting rain! Don't underestimate natural shade – sitting in the shade of a tree or surrounded by plants can provide tranquillity and make your garden seem like a true oasisiv.

A fire pit, brazier or fireplace is one way to keep warm during the cooler months - it will also create a focal point on the deck for gatherings. With a cup of cocoa and a stick of marshmallows, it will create an inspired setting. If fire is a safety concern, especially with children around, a portable gas heater is great for the outdoors. Just like the portable sun-umbrella, you can move it around to where you need that extra warmth.

Don't forget to keep the mosquito coils and insect repellent handy for a bug-free deck that won't bother you or your family!

Outdoor kitchen and dining

Get your deck ready for a big season of alfresco dining with friends! A portable BBQ is great if you like to tuck away your outdoor appliances in the winter or if you'll need to move it around during summerv. For a more permanent fix, a built-in BBQ can blend well into the deck and garden.

Looking to keep your drinks cold and conveniently close? A fridge, ice bin or cooler for the deck might be what you're looking for. Keep these on your deck so that you don't have to waste any precious time getting cold food or drinks from the kitchen when you're entertaining guests.

Entertainment room

If you're intending to host dinner or extravagant parties at night, the right lighting plays an important role in setting the mood. Fairy lights, lanterns or light bulbs hung from trees can add a whimsical touch to your gardenvi. Lighting that saturates your garden and illuminates the night, such as floodlights on the eaves of your house, will improve safety by improving visibility for your guests, as will low-voltage fixed lamps on walls facing the deckvii. Solar-powered lights are an energy efficient option for lighting your garden and can be more cost efficient to runviii.

While you're sitting down in the shade with your drink in hand, why not turn on the telly? Specialty outdoor television sets can resist rain, dust, humidity, heat and creepy crawlies without compromising on qualityix – just don't forget to cover it up when it's not in use. If you've already found a TV for your deck but don't want it ruined from being outside – a weatherproof case can protect your TV from the elementsix.

Remember to position your TV in a location where it won't get the harsh glare of the sun. The best place to locate your TV on your deck is in a shaded area, which is probably also better in terms of protecting it from the elementsix. Both you and your TV will notice the difference!

If you want watch movies on a screen that can be rolled away, you can opt for an outdoor projector. Once the sun sets you can hook up the DVD player and speakers to your projector and hang the screen from the ceiling or wallx.

Fairy lights, lanterns or light bulbs hung from trees will add a fun feel to your garden.

Take the necessary precautions before installing a TV or projector outside - electrical appliances don't mix well with waterxi! Wiring should be done by an electrician. If you're worried about cables outside being affected by the elements, take advantage of wireless internet streaming offered by Apple TV, for example, or wireless HDMIix.

For parties or enjoying music while you're gardening or playing catch with the dog, an outdoor sound system or speakers is a nifty idea. Portable speakers are always easy solutions for the deck, garden or poolside. You can find waterproof, shockproof and dust-resistant speakers ideal for the outdoors with a range of wireless capabilitiesxii. If you want some speakers that will be heard but not seen, there is a variety of models that are made to look like garden objects. Choose from rocks, planters and even hanging coconutsxiii!

As with anything electrical - don't neglect it! Take proper care of it by covering or stowing it away when not in use. Ensure that anything with wires or cables that sits outside is plugged into tamper and weather-resistant outlets that are suitable for outside useix and waterproof anything that might deteriorate in inclement weather such as cushions or metallic and wooden furniturexiv.

A furnished deck can turn your garden into an oasis. For peace of mind, remember to protect it: with home and contents insurance you can be secured against financial loss in the event that something happens to your property. Get a quote with Allianz today!

i Better Homes and Gardens, Install Some Decorative Shade, viewed 6 November 2013,

ii Better Homes and Gardens, Beat the heat, viewed 11 November 2013,

iii Better Homes and Gardens, Retractable Awning, viewed 8 November 2013,

iv The Family Handyman, How to Shade Your Deck or Patio, viewed 6 November 2013,

v Better Homes and Gardens, Bonus Tip: Keep the Grill Close, viewed 6 November 2013,

vi Better Homes and Gardens, Create a Festive Mood with String Lights, viewed 6 November 2013,

vii Better Homes and Gardens, Patio Amenities, viewed 6 November 2013,

viii Living Greener, Solar Garden Lighting, Australian Government, viewed 6 November 2013,

ix Yang, J 2013, 'How To Take the Home Entertainment Experience Out to the Backyard', Apartment Therapy, 23 April, viewed 6 November 2013,

x Wired 2011, Make a backyard movie theater, viewed 11 November 2013,

xi Energy Safe Victoria, Water and electricity, viewed 6 November 2013,

xii Han, G 2013, 'The Best Wireless Speakers for Outdoor Entertaining', Apartment Therapy, 28 May, viewed 6 November 2013,

xiii Electronic House 2013, 30 Pro Tips for Outdoor Electronics, viewed 8 November 2013,

xiv 'Weather-proof your garden furniture' 2013, The Independent, 14 February, viewed 6 November 2013,