"Bring the outdoors in" has become a mantra of modern living, and for good reason—staying connected to the environment is healthy and uplifting, creating a more harmonious home. There are myriad ways to blend interior and exterior spaces, and we hope the 10 examples below serve as inspiration to open the door to outdoor living.
When Boston-based architectural designer Sebastian Mariscal visited the site of a 1920s bungalow in Venice, California, he was immediately struck by the mature trees on the lot and vowed to build around them. "I was moved by how the trees in the front were creating a special silence of green within the eclectic neighborhood of Venice," says Mariscal. "The first thing that came to my mind was that I must preserve the same view, meaning my design cannot be seen from the street—only trees, only green." The resulting residence features modest rooms that feel expansive, thanks to corresponding outdoor rooms.
This home strikes a work/life balance by placing a Milgard® Aluminum Patio Door adjacent to the workspace, creating an easy transition to a calming patio space. Here, desert plants keep water usage low, and a pebble garden takes the place of grass for a drought-tolerant solution. In harsher climates, homeowners may opt for a Thermally Improved Aluminum door, which places polyurethane between the frame to create a thermal break and reduce the flow of heat.
Keeping a Coop
The new owners of the late architect David Boone's 1972 house in Orinda, California, have relaxed the original divisions between office and living spaces, creating a more fluid relationship between the two—and subsequently, with the exterior grounds. Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander also built what they call the "3 x 6 Case Study Coop" for the hens that provide a steady supply of eggs, designing it out of Douglas fir strips in a nod to Boone.
La Cima at Cresta Bella in San Antonio, Texas, is a community that values comfort, spacious living, and privacy. This residence boasts an open concept plan that is joined to a generous patio through a Moving Glass Wall System by Milgard. The doors not only allow natural light to flood the interior, but also double the space for entertaining when open. An outdoor kitchen makes it easy for the host to prepare meals while still participating in conversations that happen in the lounge area.
In Toronto, Canada, Christine Ho Ping Kong and Peter Tan carved out a space for their family and their business by converting a warehouse into a two-story residence. All the windows in the home point inwards, sealing it off from the street, but once you walk in, a 30-foot-wide main floor leads to a generous courtyard. This was created by slicing out a portion of the second floor, making the front elevation resemble a U. The inspiration came from the couple's travels. "The places we liked had courtyards," says Ho Ping Kong, "spaces where the light comes from above."
Aging in Place
Built as part of the Parade of Homes event in Denver, Colorado, the 6,100-square-foot "New Idea Home" by Guy Nichols of Nexus Architecture is spacious enough to accommodate a four-generation household with four living levels—each with its own outdoor recreation area. The home readies its occupants to age in place by adhering to Universal Design standards, boasting wide traffic areas, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, a stair-free entryway, and a dedicated place for an elevator installation. Seamless transitions between the interior and exterior ensure that the outdoors will always be within reach for the occupants.
A young Canadian couple enlisted local architect Sean Lockyer to help them build a vacation home in Palm Springs, California, that would accommodate their three young children and outdoor lifestyle. "Our idea," says Lockyer, "was to maximize the view and capture as much of the outdoor space, from property line to property line, as possible." Ten-foot-high sliding glass doors in the combination kitchen, dining, and living area allow views of Eisenhower Mountain to hang like a mural, and the master bedroom opens up to a landscape of palms, fruit trees, acacias, desert grasses, yucca, and other drought-hardy species.
This traditional home leans into the contemporary world with Milgard Tuscany® Series Vinyl Patio Doors that lead from the living room to the patio. The door comes in 10 exterior colors ranging from silver to espresso to complement the home's design. Elevating the pool from watering hole to private oasis, the backyard landscape echoes the residence's surroundings thanks to a plant screen. From trees to bushes and grasses to flowers, the right foliage softens the transition from the built environment to the natural setting.
Dining Al Fresco
Comprised of a 6,000-square-foot main residence, a garage, a boat shed, and a storage shed, a family vacation home on Chappaquiddick Island near Edgartown, Massachusetts, seems like an organic extension of the meadow. Principal Matthew Snyder of Peter Rose + Partners explains that he wanted to create a place where the family of five could "experience an extraordinary environment, be held comfortably, and then move out of the way to allow the environment to be experienced directly." An open dining room is sheltered by a green roof that carries a layer of sea grasses from the surrounding area.
Though San Antonio, Texas, is known for its Spanish-style dwellings, custom home builder Beau Walker has noticed a growing interest in contemporary offerings. For his own Hill Country Contemporary residence, Walker combined modern elements—an open plan, clean lines, and indoor/outdoor living—with rustic standbys to create a model for inquiring customers. The living room and backyard are joined through generous sliding glass doors, while the interior spaces of the house are also accessible to each other, making the entire home feel connected. "People want to see the television from the living room while they’re cooking," says Walker. "Parents want to look out and keep an eye on their kids in the backyard. They want to capture everything from one location."
How have you incorporated outdoor living into your home? Let us know in the comments below.
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