Blurring the lines is key to unifying inside and out

Connecting our homes with our gardens is a growing trend

Floor finishes and wall treatments should be continued between inside and outside areas so that you can’t easily define where one space ends and the other begins

Floor finishes and wall treatments should be continued between inside and outside areas so that you can’t easily define where one space ends and the other begins

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 01:00

The trend for connecting our homes with our gardens has been growing and has evolved to the point where we are starting to treat outdoor spaces as additional living areas. Even with weather as unpredictable as ours, this can work really well.

I’ve always tried to encourage clients to consider their outdoor space when planning a refurbishment or extension. Not only because the garden is what you will look out on to, but by connecting the two areas and treating the space directly outside as another living space you will extend your home and add more value.

I lived in New York and London and in both cities the creative use of whatever tiny patch of available outdoor space was incredible. From striking window boxes, to innovative use and adornment of even the most modest balcony or patio, using the outdoor space to extend the living area was the norm.

In Ireland I feel we are a little spoilt with our gardens. What is considered a small backyard here would be a rather generous plot in other parts of the world, so it’s not surprising that the trend to capitalise on this area of our home has taken a while to catch on.

We completed a project for clients recently who had returned from London and wanted to make the most of their garden. By extending part of the roof out and partly enclosing the area, the space was shielded from the elements. We created an outdoor bar, living and entertaining space. The covered roof and inclusion of some outdoor heaters meant that the space was usable all year round.

Even in our climate, introducing a form of roof covering makes the area usable. This can be anything from a pergola type structure to a more permanent roof.

Outdoor cooking spaces are also really popular now, taking cues from countries with warmer climates. Outdoor kitchens with built-in barbecues or pizza ovens are often requested by clients here.

We occasionally get requests for outdoor fireplaces, which is the perfect way to create the ultimate al fresco living space.

The key to success is to create as unified a look as possible between inside and outside, blurring the lines by continuing floor finishes, wall treatments and roof structures between the two areas so that you can’t easily define where one space ends and the other begins.

When you extend furnishings outside you gain additional living space and by carrying the internal finishes outside you create the illusion of both areas feeling larger.

Custom-built furniture such as benches will feel more integrated than more traditional patio furniture. This is a particularly good idea for smaller gardens and the space under a bench can be used for storage. Integrate planters and lighting complete the look.

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