For those living in a 4-season climate, such as ours, it can be hard to imagine crossing the boundary between our cozy interior living space and the outside, especially in the dead of winter. As designers, we love to imagine spaces that blur those boundaries to create more harmony between the spaces we use every day and the outdoor environments we look out onto. In this post, I am going to introduce ways of designing an outdoor living space and how we can make the most of our outdoor spaces in all seasons.
A lot of us spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, whether you are preparing food, eating, or entertaining, it is in most cases the heart of the home. For those who love to spend time outdoors, incorporating an outdoor kitchen is a great way to extend the BBQ season beyond the summer months. When designing an outdoor kitchen, we like to keep these key design features in mind:
-The outdoor kitchen should be in close proximity to the main kitchen in the house
-Covering the outdoor kitchen with a roof will provide shelter from rain and snow
-Incorporating a mini-fridge and bar sink is a perfect addition if you like to entertain
-Lighting is an important factor, especially if you intend to use the kitchen in the fall and winter months when daylight is reduced.
If you have the yard space, consider building an outdoor kitchen in a separate structure to create a retreat-like feel. Have a look at our Sinatra Cabana where we designed a modern space equipped with a kitchen, living room and a covered outdoor lounge area across from the owner’s pool. An outdoor fireplace heats the covered lounge in the fall and winter while the kitchen and living room can be fully enclosed allowing this space to be utilized year-round.
Indoor / Outdoor Living Room
Like the kitchen, the living room can seamlessly become a part of a larger outdoor living space. Take our Woodland Ridge project for instance. Here 18ft long floor-to-ceiling windows were designed to completely open up to a covered outdoor living space creating one large room with panoramic views of the surrounding forest.
Extending the roof over the outdoor living space makes it feel like it is part of the living room and has the added benefit of protection from the elements. Take it a step further by adding an outdoor fireplace to create a heated outdoor living room that sets the perfect ambiance for cool summer nights or a winters day.
Creating a microclimate, such as an interior courtyard, is a great way to open up interior spaces within the home to the outdoors, both physically and visually and enjoy it year-round. Have a look at our blog on Courtyard Design to see how these outdoor spaces can be designed with all seasons in mind.
Indoor / Outdoor Bathroom
Unlike the examples shared above, it is a little harder to imagine physically removing the boundary between the inside and outside in a bathroom. Blurring those boundaries, however, is not impossible, and when done correctly, can actually be quite beautiful. Take for instance the master bathroom of the newly renovated Kardashian-West residence. A seamless floor to ceiling glass window-wall extends the bathroom beyond the interior to a lush exterior garden wall. Not only does this approach provide the room with an abundance of natural light while maintaining privacy, but it also creates a serene, spa-like environment just for you!
While this approach may not be obtainable for every bathroom, there are other design strategies that can bring the outdoors in and maintain privacy. One strategy is to design the room with a skylight or clearstory windows. This can be especially useful for houses that are in close proximity to neighbouring properties and are looking for ways to minimize views into the bathroom. They are also a great source of natural light and a fun way to gain a different perspective!
Whether your house is surrounded by a beautiful landscape or you are one of many houses in a subdivision, we always encourage our clients to look beyond the interior and consider how their spaces can be designed with the outside in mind. These design strategies that reinforce our physical and visual connection to the outdoors, have a positive impact on our physical and mental health and create opportunities to expand our living spaces year-round.