Awnings make sense in Australia’s climate but, despite our much-vaunted “outdoor lifestyle”, we don’t use the outdoors as well as the Italians or French. Awnings create outdoor rooms, so they’re worth the expense. Not only do they cut heat and glare, they define an outdoor space. If your living room is poky, an awning is the best sort of extension.
For really big areas (with budgets to match) conservatory awnings work best. Folding-arm styles work well in large courtyards, and straight-drops on balconies. The big news now are retractable awnings, the best of which can fold back, cassette-style, into low-profile boxes on the wall. (Retractable styles don’t require council permission, whereas large, permanent awnings generally do.)
Awnings need to be fixed to whatever can take the load (concrete slab, brick wall, etc), but can be as high- or low-tech as your budget allows, from rope-and-pulley mechanisms to awnings that automatically come out when the sun shines or retract when the wind starts to blow.
Make the most of your outdoors with a full range of custom external awnings for doorways to balconies to courtyards: (folding-arm, pivot-arm, fabric-side, straight-drops, cassette-style retractables, motorised or manual using a huge choice of modern or trad fabrics. Thomas Hamel, Darryl Gordon, Cameron Kimber’s choice). You’ll see them everywhere from pretty cottages to harbourside piles, not to mention magazine spreads. (02) 87621900, www.petermeyerblind.com.au.
Brookvale-based…Australian-made, retractable sun roofs are the big thing here. Are you ready for an open air room? 1300 766319, helioscreen.com.au
Here’s an affordable way to get on top of that desperate corrugated plastic patio awning or mouldy old sailcloth: swap it for a bamboo canopy. Here you’ll find all kinds of inexpensive bamboo cladding, thatching and play-panels, including a product called Naturereed that you can rig up to existing pergola beams and verandah roofing and make into canopies, or use to hide fences. It gives a soft, filtered light during the day and can be lit from above at night. It comes in rolls: try butting two panels together and letting them hang down for extra shade, or sliding them along as the sun moves. (They can help you find a sub-contractor in your area to rig it up.) It’s low-maintenance, moisture-resistant and a budget alternative to shadesails and more structured awnings – ideal for renters or people wanting something stylish but short-term. 13 Erith Street, Botany, 1300 665703, www.houseofbamboo.com.au.
Put your house under sail with these top-notch made-to-measure awnings, including its best-selling batten designs and retractable models (motorised or manual) that can be mounted above the roofline, pool and pergola covers. The effect is light, modern and nautical (the rain-proof, wind-resistant fabrics are sewn by sailmakers using that iconic zig-zag stitching). Opt for a couple of overlapping sail-cloths in a good French fabric, or pay extra for a curved or rectangular batten awning. Outrigger handles everything from design and manufacture to installation. Factory 5, 16-22 Cross Street, Brookvale, 99058473, www.outriggerawnings.com.au.
This company, based in Botany and Gladesville, specialises in cassette-style, retractable and folding-arm awnings, as well as straight-drops for balconies and Robusta window awnings. Motorised, remote-controlled, the lot. Many of the awnings are imported from Europe (with the most popular fabrics being the French-made Dickson acrylics), but there’s also Australia’s own Seashell semi-permanent semi-circular awnings that retract automatically in heavy winds – great if you’re the forgetful type. Inquiries: 1300 138230, www.quantumawnings.com.au
The Southern Highland-based window treatment specialist carries a full range of blinds (including Verosol, Silent Gliss and Vortilux ) that diffuse our strong light, control privacy but also give a hint of the view. It offers an extensive range of made-to-measure rollers, romans, timber shutters, pleated designs, venetians and curtains, all of which can be motorised. You can choose from a standard choice of designs from canvas roman blinds to natural cedar timber blinds, or the company can custom paint, stain or match your blinds to order. Plus shutters. (02) 48722108, www.southernblinds.com.au
Wide choice of folding-arms, telescopic arms and cassette awnings, fabric tension systems, canopies, straight-drops, made to measure for decks, terraces, verandahs, pools. All very attractive, in acrylic fabrics, canvas and sunscreens by brands such as Luxaflex and Dickson. Mid-to upper-range. Phone for an appointment to see the showroom. 86 Kenneth Street, Longueville 94187066, www.awnings.com.au.
The most permanent and room-like form of awning, these fab exterior shelters use metal louvre blades, shaped like aero-foil wings, that you can rotate up to 170 degrees. That means you retain the light and air, but are protected from the direct blast of the sun. Very cool, in terms of looks and temperature. You can also order sensors that ensure the louvres will shut automatically when it rains. These are permanent structures (so you’ll need council permission) but true finishing touches, bespoke designed and priced accordingly. Founded in 1984. 7 Tepko Road, Terrey Hills, 94502520 or 1800 802955, www.vergolansw.com.au