04 Jun Inside Design . . . Designing Outdoor Spaces
To bring the outside in is a common request from clients, but – happily – more and more often clients ask to bring the inside out! The appeal of the outdoor room has gained so much momentum over the last few years – and understandably so. With our (mostly!) gorgeous climate in Sydney, why wouldn’t you want to bring the comforts of indoors outside if you have the space?
Over the years I have designed numerous outdoor ‘rooms’ and there are a several factors to consider to create a spectacular outdoor space.
First and foremost, consider the purpose of the space. A designer needs to understand the clients’ needs and how they use – or want to use – their outdoor space. For example, will the space be used for relaxing, for children’s play, for entertaining – or all three and more? If entertaining is a priority, do they require minimal or extensive cooking facilities? Separate eating and lounging areas? Each of these things will inform design choices, as will traffic patterns to other parts of the outdoor area.
Add pops of colour, pattern and alternative textures to enhance the beauty of the environment – fabrics, soft furnishings, planters and plants are all ways to do this. Of course, always consider the tastes and desires of the client just as you would for an inside space.
Don’t be scared to introduce art – outdoor art pieces, wall hangings, sculptures, decorative tiles (see the image below), etc., can be a great way to introduce a focal point or enhance the sense of indoors.
Make sure your fabric and material choices suit both the climate and aesthetic of the environment. Unless the space is covered and protected, outdoor fabrics are recommended. Luckily there is fabulous array of fabrics available now for outdoor use.
Select pieces of furniture that are congruous with the outdoor environment but still reflect the taste and personality of the client and their brief, but keep the furniture (and accessories) minimal – too many pieces (especially discordant pieces) will make the space appear cluttered and not at all inviting. ‘Zoning’ the space (eating, lounging, etc.) – as can be seen in the image below – can also create a sense of order and enhance usability, and, of course, look aesthetically pleasing.
Don’t forget practicalities! To make the space usable year round, consider implementing a source of heat – ceiling heaters, outdoor gas heaters, under-floor heating (especially if tiles are being used), and outdoor fireplaces or fire pits. Choose lighting that provides both visual appeal and function – like the use of candles and wall sconces in the image below.
Finally, one last critical design guideline for creating an outdoor ‘room’ is to respect the architecture and design of the house itself when designing an exterior space – the aim is to ensure a smooth transition from interior to exterior, so blending the spaces is critical. The goal is for it to look natural and not an after-thought, or an ‘add-on’ – like it has been there all along!
Done well, an outdoor space can enhance the beauty and liveability of both the inside of the home as well as the outside, and it really isn’t hard to achieve. Best of all, it can enhance one’s lifestyle too.