As we head into the summer months, our homes start to extend beyond the traditional four walls and encompass the vibrant outdoors. The desire to connect our interior spaces with the surrounding landscapes has led homeowners and designers to explore ways of creating an indoor/outdoor flow. This integration isn’t just about large windows or French doors opening onto verdant gardens – it’s about crafting a seamless transition that makes the divide between the interior and the garden almost indistinguishable.
There are plenty of reasons you might want to do this. If you’re someone who can work from home, then there is undoubtedly an additional thrill to being able to move out into the garden and let the outside world be your office. There is a definite serenity in sitting among a soft breeze with nature around you, something that can never be gained from the confines of an office. You can feel the stresses melt away, and there is definitely something to be said for the view that rewards you when you look away from your laptop for a moment.
Additionally, as summer entertaining becomes a possibility, there is a lot to be said for welcoming guests and ushering them through a sweeping vista that takes them smoothly into the outdoor world. From a practical point of view, having the barbecue grill going in the outdoor space while you prep finger foods and refill drinks in the kitchen is something that makes the whole vibe feel a lot more mellow. And then, there is also a lot to be said for allowing fresh air to course through the house at any time of day, hearing the birds sing as you move through your to-do list.
Here, we’ll discuss several strategies, including the strategic use of what you already have, to help you achieve this coveted indoor/outdoor harmony.
The Architectural Blueprint: Large Windows and Doors
The first step in merging your interior with your garden is to address the physical barriers: the walls. Where possible, consider incorporating large windows or glass doors into your home design. This allows natural light to flood into your rooms and provides a continuous, unobstructed view of the outdoors. It’s always more relaxing and more natural to feel like the barriers between indoor and outdoor are so thin that they might as well not be there.
Bi-fold or sliding doors are excellent options as they can open up an entire wall to the outside, eliminating the division between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Similarly, floor-to-ceiling windows can turn an exterior wall into a panorama of your garden, allowing the outdoor scenery to function as a dynamic, ever-changing piece of art. It may sound a little sappy, but there are few joys as uncomplicated as looking into the garden with your morning coffee and seeing birds and outdoor creatures cavorting in the wild.
Material and Palette Continuity
Continuity in materials and color palette used indoors and outdoors can significantly enhance the sense of flow between the spaces. For example, if you have timber flooring inside, consider using a similar shade of decking outside. If your interior walls are painted in soft, earthy tones, apply the same palette to your outdoor walls or fences. You can ramp this up a little by ensuring that paint jobs in these areas match the shades in the garden: deep greens and bright yellows look the part, especially if you’ve got a sunflower or two growing out there.
Consistent use of materials also extends to your furniture. The style, colors, and materials of your outdoor furniture should complement your indoor decor. This continuity tricks the eye and creates a visual link between the two spaces, promoting a sense of unity.
The Green Thread: Plants and Greenery
Plants are a magical ingredient that can blur the lines between the inside and outside of your home. Cultivate an indoor garden with houseplants that echo the vegetation in your outdoor garden. Large leafy plants near the windows will merge visually with the greenery outside. Hanging plants or green walls can replicate the lushness of your outdoor landscape, further enhancing the sense of flow.
Consider placing these plants near windows adorned with light hangings. The filtered sunlight through the curtains will provide the indoor plants the light they need without the risk of leaf burn, creating a serene, garden-like ambiance within your home.
Lighting the Way
Lighting plays a significant role in unifying indoor and outdoor spaces. To achieve this, match your indoor and outdoor lighting styles and levels as closely as possible. Installing the same or similar light fixtures both inside and out creates a cohesive look. The use of dimmers can ensure that the light levels can be adjusted to match the time of day or mood.
Also, consider the placement of lighting in your garden. Position lights to illuminate trees or other landscape features that can be seen from inside. This makes the garden part of the view at night, extending your living space visually.
Translucent Transitions: The Role of Sheer Curtains
One often-overlooked element in bridging the gap between indoors and outdoors is the use of window treatments, so it is a good idea to install sheer curtains. These gauzy textiles are fantastic tools for creating a smooth transition between your home’s interior and the garden.
Sheer curtains offer several benefits:
Light and View: Sheer curtains filter the harsh daylight and create a soft, diffused glow inside. They reduce glare without blocking light and provide a view of the outdoors, helping to maintain that vital connection with the garden.
Movement: The lightness of the fabric means sheer curtains will move with the slightest breeze. This movement mirrors the natural motion of leaves and plants outside, subtly reinforcing the connection between inside and outside.
Versatility: Sheer curtains come in a variety of colors and patterns. This means you can choose sheers that complement both your interior decor and the outdoor view, thereby further strengthening the visual link between the two spaces.
Outdoor Kitchens and Dining Spaces
If you enjoy entertaining, the addition of an outdoor kitchen or dining space can help to further blur the line between indoors and outdoors. With a well-designed outdoor kitchen, you can prepare meals while still interacting with your guests. Include comfortable seating and a dining table to create a complete outdoor living space. Use outdoor rugs, cushions, and decor that match your indoor design to tie the spaces together. A retractable awning can ensure that there is shelter from the elements when needed, but an unrestricted view the rest of the time.
Reflection and Transparency
Another creative strategy for unitifying indoor and outdoor spaces is through reflection. Mirrors can be used indoors to reflect the garden outside, making the room appear larger and more connected to the outdoors. Similarly, water features outdoors create a dynamic, reflective surface that brings light and movement into your indoor space.
Transparent or semi-transparent materials also help to merge indoor and outdoor areas. Glass railings, for instance, provide safety without obstructing the view. Sheer curtains, as discussed, offer a level of privacy while still maintaining a visual connection to the outdoors.
Seamless Flooring and Level Thresholds
Continuity of flooring can significantly enhance the flow between indoors and outdoors. Using the same or similar flooring material on your patio or deck as in your indoor living space can create the illusion of one continuous area.
Also, consider the use of level thresholds where your doors open onto your outdoor space. Having the indoor floor and outdoor deck or patio at the same height with no step in between creates a seamless transition and can make both spaces feel like parts of a whole. This continuity makes it an uncomplicated joy to move between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Final Touches: Accessories and Art
Lastly, consider the use of accessories and artworks to foster an indoor/outdoor connection. Outdoor-inspired art or accessories that reflect the outdoor theme can help to bring the outside in. Conversely, practical yet stylish accessories like outdoor rugs, cushions, and decorative items can make outdoor spaces feel more like an extension of your indoor living area. If you live near the coast, you can up this a little by using a maritime theme in your decor, using seaside colors like light blue and sandy yellow, and found art such as seashells and driftwood.
In conclusion, creating a seamless indoor/outdoor flow involves several strategies from large-scale architectural decisions to smaller decor choices. However, every detail from your choice of doors and windows to the color palette, plants, lighting, sheer curtains, and accessories plays a critical role in achieving this harmony. By considering each of these elements, you can blur the lines between your interior and your garden, turning your home into a welcoming, integrated space that celebrates the beauty of both worlds. It can’t be overestimated just what a difference this can make to your personal wellness and the welcoming nature of your home, especially as the spring and summer months arrive.