Indoor-Outdoor Living at Home

Indoor-Outdoor Living at Home

What is indoor-outdoor living? Indoor-outdoor living is building and designing to create a bridge between the home and the natural world. This design trend (which we – Ellie Mroz Design and I – think is less of a trend and more of a permanent preferred way to build homes!) centers around creating multi-functional outdoor spaces where families can relax, work, play and entertain.

The popularity of indoor/outdoor living spaces is on the rise as homeowners strive to enjoy the outdoors as a seamless extension of their interior living space. And it’s not surprising.

Benefits of indoor/outdoor living:

    • Expanded living space
    • Living in close proximity to nature (so many mental health benefits!)
    • Maximizing natural light
    • Increased home value

The outdoor/indoor space should be a true extension of the home, which is why it’s important to create a seamless transition between the two. In that way, the spaces appear to be one rather two. Some of the most popular functional spaces in indoor-outdoor homes include:

Outdoor Kitchens:

If you love to grill, this is for you! Many of these culinary spaces include spacious grills, sinks, cabinets, small refrigerators, stovetops, and even dishwashers.  Plumbing and dedicated gas lines, heating, privacy, and transitions are a few of the elements that must be considered when building. With an ever-growing expanse of creative sliding and folding door systems, these spaces can be more functional and geared towards entertaining and socializing. Options like swing doors, stackable doors, and folding windows allow for impressive and functional features like a walk-up bar.

Outdoor Dining Rooms:

If your outdoor space is adjacent to your kitchen, you may want to turn it into a dining area.

Blended Lounge Space:

Looking for an area where large groups of people can hang out? Use your indoor-outdoor space as an extended living room or lounge by including lots of sitting space and tables.

Outdoor Entertainment:

Bring the big game outside with an outdoor TV. Televisions and sound systems are the well-used addition for an outdoor space under a patio cover. Fireplaces extend the use of these spaces through the colder months.

Tips for Optimal Indoor/Outdoor Execution

Give Each Space A Purpose:

An indoor/outdoor space can serve more than one function. While the main function may be an indoor/outdoor kitchen, many homeowners also want a seating or conversation area to complement the space, such as a bar for added functionality. When designing, it’s important to give each space a purpose. This creates a more appealing environment and helps plan for traffic flow through the area. Consider separating the spaces with plants, flower boxes, or rugs to clearly define between eating, living, and entertaining spaces.

Maintain Consistent Design Theme and Architecture:

When integrating indoor and outdoor living spaces, keeping the design consistent is important. Maintaining a similar design helps create a cohesive look between the two areas making the transition more natural. Beyond similar accessories, color palette, and furniture style, the materials and architectural touches should mirror the interior space. For example, if the interior includes arches, transoms or large beams, similar touches can be incorporated in the exterior spaces. You can also mirror architectural materials such as light fixtures, countertops and flooring in your exterior spaces. Just remember to use outdoor-rated materials for durability.

Provide Adequate Cover:

The outdoor/indoor space should be a place that homeowners can enjoy regardless of the weather. Typical solutions include awnings, pergolas, shades and umbrellas. 

Materials can range from wood, to metal, to durable fabrics. Shelter is also key to protecting outdoor furniture from weather damage. Motorized shades can give homeowners options pending weather conditions.

Plan for Temperature Variation:

Year-round enjoyment of your space is a major advantage. For those that live in colder climates, it is important to consider heating requirements. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, chimneys, and gas patio heaters are popular options that also integrate well with design.

For climates that allow this as an option, collapsible doors provide the perfect opportunity to create a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor environment. This is not realistic in some climates due to excessive temperatures, mosquitoes and other factors. For these scenarios, the look can be accomplished with large windows, sliding doors or screened enclosures.

Link Entertainment Zones:

Adding a television is a no-brainer, which is easy enough to link with your home’s system. But you’ll also want to add WiFi extenders to improve internet connectivity. To really enhance the sense of flow from the indoors out, add audio speakers and connect them with your home’s entertainment system. That way, you can hear the same background sounds when walking from one space to the next.

Keep the Floor Level:

Another way to ensure that your space flows is to avoid changes in floor level. The same floor height ensures there’s not a step up or down when going in or out.

Indoor-outdoor spaces give you the best of both worlds—you can enjoy your favorite activities, such as cooking, dining, and hanging out with loved ones, while basking in nature. Once you complete your new blended living space, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.