Inside out spaces

An architect's brief calls for buildings to have a more meaningful connection with the outdoors, creating a closer relationship between house and garden.

By Emily Brooks | 19 January 2017

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;


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;


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.