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How to Integrate Indoor and Outdoor Space

418 Ave E-10-1.jpgSimple distinctions between the indoors and outdoors can be synthetic.

What makes up a room has dozens of repetitions made up of an infinite range of flavors and qualities.

“Inside” and “outside” are best characterized (and understood) as ends of a spectrum in the relationship between structure and landscape. 

A room can nestle in the terrain or hover over it. It can have walls and no roof or a roof and no walls. An allee of trees makes a leaf-covered room. Windows, entryways, breezeways, foyers, porches, patios, decks, courtyards, and thresholds of all kinds: such zones need not be mundane. 

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With careful consideration, they become active, fluid, and complex -- an opportunity of the users to tune spaces to their needs, sensibilities, and surroundings. 

Balance between shelter and exposure is key to integrating indoor and outdoor space. Here are a couple of tips on how to achieve that balance: 

  • Seize the outdoors from within.The glass surrounding a living area melts away to let the landscape rush in, transforming a traditional room with a view into a complex space where the room is the view. 

A shallow balcony functions as an intermediary zone between structure and nature, accessed by doors located on the side to maintain the immaterially of the frontal wall window. 

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This makes it easy to project yourself visually to occupy the exterior space, even if you choose to stay inside. 

  • Use wood to merge inside and out. A unified wood palette on walls and floors meld a screened porch with scenery beyond. Modest windows that emphasize the interior and frame the exterior create a visual connection between building material and its natural source.
  • Flip expectations of defined space. Oversize sliding doorsdematerialize an interior flanked by crisp landscaping. Dense plantings edge the gravel floor of a courtyard, while a distant wall of foliage brackets an expansive lawn. The contrast makes a dining area seem more like an interstitial opening between outdoor rooms. 
  • Deliver visitors from front yard to back. A floor plan can slip through a house, delivering visitors from front yard to back. Imagine a bluestone surface that travels from outside to inside and back out again, where views open up to the Pacific Ocean. 
  • Embrace the opposites. Reflective materials animate and enlarge an intimate space. Solid forms float and multiply in a sea of glossiness. With coy liberation, a single transparent band can puncture the sense of enclosure and bring in the landscape. 
  • Subvert the relationship between floor plane and ground plane. Generous windows and custom furniture will nestle a porch in a sloping site. Sitting in such a room is sitting in the landscape itself. 
  • Signal entry with thresholds. A shade structure forms an eternal foyer that invites a moment of pause and frames a view of the door. With a sense of anticipation, the experience of the house starts well before the user walks inside. 

A spectrum between inside and out works in tandem with a spectrum of mood. Different kinds of space provide opportunities to search out surroundings to either reinforce or transform a state of mind. 

Spatial symmetry is in direct conflict with the complexity of everyday life. Perhaps that’s what makes life so interesting!

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Topics: Open Floor Plan, Porches, Exterior