A sympathetic layout, innovative glazing and matched materials can bring nature indoors, turn your garden into a true living area and increase space inside and outside your home.
Whether it’s for a new-build or an extension, almost every architect’s brief now calls for a building to have a more meaningful connection to the outdoors.
A close relationship between house and garden benefits both: gardens that have some of the amenities of a living space get more use, while interiors feel bigger and more airy when they open on to an al fresco living area.
1. Make the most of window glazing
Improvements in glass technology have made an immeasurable impact on our ability to link inside and out. Coatings and gas-filled cavities have improved thermal performance – these days, rooms that rely on a lot of glazing don’t overheat in summer or lose heat in winter.
The use of light but strong aluminium for framing means windows can have slim outlines that reveal more of the view, while sliding doors can hold bigger panes of glass. For courtyard and rooftop areas, retractable glazing can turn an enclosed room into a breezy outdoor space in a few seconds.
2. Seek inspiration from architects
Look to residential architects in warmer climates such as Australia for ideas on how to perfect the inside-outside look. Homes often have level thresholds between house and garden, with glass doors that can be pushed back to make a single space. Deep overhangs or brises-soleil help to cool interiors, but they also act as transitional areas, softening the boundary between house and garden, and can be useful as covered walkways.
3. Consider a courtyard
While a walkway will give you a definitively outward-facing home, a courtyard layout will do the opposite, creating a secluded pocket of space. Because they are enclosed, courtyards already have some of the characteristics of a room, and you can amplify that with built-in seating or an outdoor firepit.
4. Build an outdoor living room
If you really want to make the most of your outdoor space, furnish it with features more common to indoor rooms. Outdoor kitchens are becoming popular, which at its simplest means a built-in barbecue with some worktop space either side, but could also include a sink, wine fridge and outdoor plug sockets so you can bring appliances outside and have everything you need to cook a full meal.