Architecturally, many homes now blur the line between outside and inside. Many of the same materials, surfaces, cabinetry, lighting fixtures, appliances, and even fireplaces that used to be only found inside are now finding their way into outdoor areas. The growing demand for homes that flow naturally from the inside out has fostered the creation of transitional areas that are neither completely inside nor completely outside. Here’s how to do them well:
- Before you create your plan, pay careful attention to potentially limiting factors. In some cities, Floor Area Ratio (FAR) restrictions, along with limits on impervious land coverage, can restrict the mix of indoor-outdoor environmental enhancements. Second, there is the issue of proximity to neighbors. While one- and two-acre lots provide expansive areas to create whatever you want, smaller lots and more compact densities mean that privacy issues must be taken into account.
- Use flooring, expansive glass walls and doors, automated screens, and extended roofs to make sure these transitional “rooms” can be easily adapted to varying weather conditions and lifestyle needs throughout the year. It’s an approach that enables homeowners to control and quickly reconfigure their living environments to meet changing weather and other environmental conditions.
- Many people love outdoor pools, even if they don’t swim often. Pools simply provide an attractive water feature and focal point in the outdoor living environment. Swimming pools are at their best when they’re incorporated into the overall design of the home. In new construction, integrate the pool into the structure, creating a seamless transition between the house and the pool.
- Siting pools quite close to the home gives indoor living areas a very alfresco feeling.
- Design outdoor kitchens in much the same way as an indoor kitchen. Distinct cooking, refrigeration, and prep areas should be laid out in a triangle that provides a compact and functional work area. There are plenty of new products and appliances in the marketplace designed to last in outdoor conditions, but outdoor kitchens should still be positioned in a covered transitional space or under nonpermanent options such as awnings so they can still be used during light rain showers.
- Indoor kitchens, especially when combined with counters that extend into bars, can serves as transitional areas themselves and provide everything needed for outdoor entertainment.