By: Rick Hess/Mae Case, DISD
Being one with nature is a notion human beings have embraced for ages. Having a respectful relationship with it has been a necessity for our survival and our evolution. So it’s not surprising that in a time when society is becoming more globally aware of the benefits sustainability and “going green,” we are noticing a growing trend in blurring the line between indoor and outdoor living. Floor to ceiling glass windows and sliding doors that welcome an abundance of natural light, indoor courtyards, and rooms that open right onto backyard decks are popular ways of inviting the calming effects and simple beauty of the outdoors into one’s living space. These examples show indoor/outdoor living spaces that truly bring the outside in, illustrating that interior design goes beyond just four walls.
The designers of the House in Moriyama and Loft 24-7 found brilliant ways to bring the outdoors in. “It was our intention to treat rooms and gardens as equivalent, and make the relationship between inside and out closer, by creating a design featuring this garden-like room so that things normally decorating a room such as art, books, and furnishings would in a way almost be thrust into an exterior space,” explained the architects of Suppose Design. While they brought the garden indoors, Arquitetos Asociados wrapped Loft 24-7 around an open-air courtyard that connects its inhabitants directly to its surroundings.
Who says a living or dining room has to be indoors? Villa Deca breaks the boundaries of traditional design and blurs the lines between interior and exterior space by placing a living room outside. This same concept is carried into the Lee House, a single-family dwelling with panoramic views from its open living area. Both homes maximize natural daylighting and use a monochromatic color scheme to keep the focus on nature.
Many designers use skylights and other pockets of open space not only to capture daylight but also to provide a more subtle connection to nature. Large voids in the sloped roof of the Montblanc House create a sense of openness amid a dense urban neighborhood. In the Outside In home, the dining room sits in the middle of a garden, and folding glass doors convert the indoor space into a covered patio.
Shompole Lodge overlooks the Great Rift Valley in Kenya and maximizes views of the awe-inspiring landscape. The use of local, natural materials such as stone and wood strengthens the connection between hotel guests and their surroundings. Covered areas provide the perfect combination of the indoors and out, allowing unfettered access to the breezes and views under the shelter of a thatched roof.
Where do trees grow? The designers of the Optical Glass House and the Tepoztlán Lounge would answer that question by saying that trees grow through spaces rather than outside of them. The Optical Glass House is located within busy downtown Hiroshima but provides a tranquil retreat, screened off by a glass brick wall and a tree-filled garden. The more rural setting of the Tepoztlán Lounge requires no such shield; trees grow through the open-air living space, and folding glass doors allow the enclosed rooms to be opened up as well.
While many people may take for granted the indoor-outdoor connections of their environment, these striking examples show that interior designers are not confined to designing within walls – they welcome the outside in and take the inside out by creating stunning indoor/outdoor living spaces. With sensitivity to the climate and the client’s desired functionality, blended indoor/outdoor spaces can bring a whole new level of satisfaction to everyday living.