A sympathetic layout, innovative glazing and matched materials can bring nature indoors and turn your garden into a true living area.

Inside out spaces3

Image: Loyn & Co Architects (029 2071 1432; loyn.co.uk)


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.


Make the most of 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


Seek inspiration

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.


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.

Inside out spaces3

Image: Imola outside (+39 0542 601 601; imolaceramica.com)


Outdoor living rooms

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.


Walk the line

If you’re building or renovating a detached property, consider incorporating a perimeter walkway all the way round, with lots of access points – for example, not just sliding doors from the kitchen-diner to the main part of the garden, but further access from your living room or snug. Multiple outdoor areas will make the most of the sun’s position throughout the day and give you more opportunities to enjoy some fresh air.

Inside out spaces3

Image: Granit Chartered Architects (020 7924 4555; granit.co.uk)


Take it outside

Built-in structures that follow the same line inside and out are another way of blurring the boundaries. Install bench seating along the perimeter wall of your kitchen-diner and construct mirror-image seating along the garden wall for outdoor dining.

Similarly, the shape and proportions of kitchen cabinetry can be continued outside, perhaps as a rendered wall that acts as a planter, or as built-in cupboards for an outdoor kitchen.


Matched materials

Although glazing and level thresholds are the most obvious ways of making an internal-external link, they are not the only tools at your disposal. Materials and proportions can be echoed in both spaces; flooring is the most obvious way to do this but you can think about the vertical plane, too.

Taking the finish of interior walls outside is very effective –it could be bare brick, paintwork, timber cladding or tiles, as long as the material can withstand outdoor life. If you have an overhang, its underside can also be matched to the internal ceiling finish.

Inside out spaces3

Image: Granit Chartered Architects (020 7924 4555; granit.co.uk)


Enjoy the view

Even small outdoor spaces such as terraces or balconies can be merged with their adjacent interiors. If you’re matching up flooring materials, go for a lighter-weight material such as porcelain tiles rather than something like stone. Sliding and bi-fold doors are not just for ground-floor rooms and can be installed at upper levels, too, with glass balustrades that don’t block the view.

Rinse off

Seaside properties can greatly benefit from outdoor showering facilities – they’re incredibly practical for washing off sand and rinsing wetsuits. However, make sure you screen them properly if you’re overlooked and plan to strip off.


Words: Emily Brooks, Photography Mark Ashbee; Charles Hosea; Tim Soar, Jim Stephensons

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
Home Improvements

Handleless kitchens: design ideas for sleek cabinetry

Take inspiration from these real spaces using handleless kitchen cabinetry for a more streamlined space.
Home Improvements

Copper baths: what you need to know

Here's what you need to know before investing in a copper or nickel bathtub for your bathroom design.
Home Improvements

How to choose and install the perfect stove

The right stove can really be the core of your home, welcoming and warm. Find out what to look for with an expert guide to...
Home Improvements

Green Homes Grant: 5 tips for finding a tradesperson

HomeOwners Alliance offers up the best practice for finding someone to undertake your Green Homes Grant renovation projects.
Home Improvements

Spray foam insulation for greener homes

Take a look at how spray foam insulation and solar panels are perfect partners for improving your home's energy efficiency.
Home Improvements

Green Homes Grant: guide to secondary glazing

For period properties or home's where replacing single glazing isn't an option, secondary glazing can offer a solution.