The indoor-outdoor connection is one of the most vital and potentially unique aspects of your home’s design. As we’ve written about previously, your home’s relationship to its surroundings is shaped by the elements that bridge the gap, with the spaces outside often considered as an extension of those inside. Whether it’s for entertaining or relaxation, and regardless of scale, climate and location — there ways to harness the most of your home’s potential for outdoor living. Here are few ideas we’ve compiled for inspiration:
Your view is a primary consideration for the design of your exterior space. Orienting openings and sightlines will ensure you’re looking at something pleasing or have the privacy you desire from views into the space. This home is nestled inside an opening within a dense collection of trees, giving a stellar backdrop to the extensive amounts of glazing on the rear side of the home. With no visible neighbors, this design works to capitalize on the views and natural light without making its owners feel exposed.
When your home is situated on a small lot or you have other adjacent homes in close proximity, the design calls for a different approach. A small recess is carved out of the home’s footprint to create this terrace. Although it’s not inside, surrounding this space with the walls of the home on three sides, this space feels like a true “room.” It also allows for views between distant, otherwise disconnected, corners of the house — making it feel larger and more open.
Similarly, this home is bracketed by the highway and neighboring homes on the remaining three sides. To create a private outdoor space and cultivate more appealing views, the floor plan was developed around a central courtyard. This is accessible directly from the main living spaces along with the adjacent guest suite and driveway, offering a pleasant place to linger or enjoy in the procession through the house.
Even without a yard, you can still claim a private space outside with a balcony or terrace. By utilizing part of the roof and raising the terrace above the street in this townhome, it provides better views beyond the neighborhood. Short walls between adjacent townhomes allow you to mingle with your neighbors while standing, but will conceal you while sitting. The double-sided fireplace and pair of French doors are a great justification to utilize this space year-round.
Materials can drastically impact the function of your outdoor space. Consider the activities you enjoy doing outside — is it more important that you have a location to play sports or host party guests? A hard surface is typically better for entertaining, so opt for slate or decking if you plan to outfit your space with a bar or table. If lawn games are more your style, reserve hardscape (like stepping stones or pavers) only for the paths you walk most – this will maximize and preserve the grass on your lot.
Take both your climate and the sun into consideration when designing your exterior living space. You’ll want to position it to receive consistent light year-round and intense light during the coldest part of year. In our region, this generally means that a south-facing space will be the most beneficial. A flexible covering, like an awning or pergola, will give you the most variation of light and shade when most desirable. This patio has a canopy with skylights to give the space below concentrated spots of sunlight in varying locations depending on the position of the sun.
When insects and strong breezes are a concern, a screened enclosure can be an advantageous solution. A combination of solid glass panels, permeable screens, and overhead ceiling fans in this porch give the owners maximum flexibility in controlling their environment.
Limiting the threshold is a strong move to make the transition between inside and outside totally seamless. By reducing or eliminating steps between doors and spaces beyond, you open the potential for combining indoor and outdoor rooms into a single, fluid space. This often will need to be factored into the earliest stages of design – from grading to construction assembly. In the design above, a large retaining wall will be built to hold up the pool deck at the same plane as the first floor of the home.
Do you have an outdoor living space that you enjoy or admire? Share it with us by leaving a comment below!