Expand Your Home with Outdoor Living Space

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Thoughtfully designed outdoor living spaces can feel like a natural extension of your home’s interior living space–with one big difference: your outdoor rooms are “furnished” with the sights, sounds, fragrances, and physical sensations of open-air living.

You gain the freedom to revel in all of your senses with no confining walls to constrain your imagination.

Privacy Without Walls: The Art of the Outdoor Room

At the beginning of the design process, your landscape architect will ask you to imagine how you will use your new outdoor space. Combining your ideas with a thorough site analysis and evaluation, they develop a site plan that divides the landscape into separate but related activity zones.

Activity zones could include an outdoor living room or dining room and other areas designated for play, entertaining, family gatherings, or even a secluded spot for quiet reflection. Connecting paths and transition areas in the landscape balance how various outdoor living spaces will interact with each other and how they will relate to the home’s architecture.

outdoor dining room

Begin your project with a dream and a plan!

You are at the threshold of an exciting journey. This eBook will provide sound guidance as you take your first steps.

How Sensory and Visual Cues Define Outdoor Living Spaces

1 Borders

  • structures such as a seating wall can define a perimeter, or a hedge may serve as a living wall
  • pathways bordered by plantings or trees create the feeling of corridors
  • an arbor, pergola, or overhanging tree branch may suggest a ceiling

2 Transitions

  • changes in elevation achieved by terracing or stepping up/down
  • variations in color, texture, or type of materials underfoot may signal passage from one distinct place into another

3 Focal Points

  • positioning a fountain, arbor, or plant grouping leads the eye and invites you into the landscape
  • framing views encourages intuitive flow from one place to another in the garden

The artful, balanced composition of these elements in landscape design can create an extraordinary experience of depth and vibrancy in your outdoor environment.

Relationship Between Indoor and Outdoor Living Spaces

The process of designing an interrelated series of outdoor rooms and assigning a unique purpose to each is where the art of the landscape designer and interior designer overlap.

The prominent interior designer, Barbara Hawthorn, believes that interior designers must strive to break through that mental barrier of inside vs. outside to create living spaces that surprise, challenge, and delight the people who inhabit them. Hawthorn says “Indoor and outdoor spaces should be integrated and flow one into the other. Frank Lloyd Wright was a great advocate of that concept. You can see that locally at the Pope-Leighey house in Alexandria.”

The best interior designers in the industry agree that the principles of  landscape design and interior design overlap in some key areas:

  • Awareness of the changing effects of natural light during different hours of the day and evening
  • Selection and orientation of details with sensitivity as to how light and shadow fix color, define objects, and affect mood
  • Refining and balancing the vast palette of color and textures available in the materials used
  • Framing views and planning movement that naturally leads from one environment (or room) to another

Room design, whether inside the home or outside, attempts to achieve continuity. Outdoor rooms and interior rooms are connected by a series of transitions, by natural, intuitive flow that leads from one space to the next.

Ideally, each outdoor living space is designed to draw you in and make you feel comfortable enough to stay and enjoy just being there.

Outdoor Living Spaces Improve Over Time

Something to keep in mind: While your home interiors may go out of style, and become dowdy and dated over the years, your outdoor rooms will only get better. 

With consistent care and maintenance, your outdoor living spaces will start to fill out and reach their full potential in two to three years. Time is one element that makes landscapes great. As garden plants adapt to their surroundings and grow, they get better and better.

If you’ve been considering an investment in landscape design, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.

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