Inside Outside Space
Great indoor-outside living space combines several features that add up to a feeling that the house is well connected to the garden. The key design element is usually large doors opening onto terrace areas immediately adjacent to the house without a step, so that the move from inside to outside is largely unnoticed. Although our weather can be unpredictable, this arrangement encourages you to spend your days with the doors open, enjoying the sun and fresh air.
Another feature is to use the same materials inside and out, creating a seamless transition between the inside and outside. The material continuity leads the eye outside, making the interior space appear larger, flowing from the inside to the terrace area and beyond. This can add to the ambiguity of the edges of the space, diverting attention from the glazing, so it almost disappears.
You can also think about creating a transition area to protect you from the weather such as a projecting roof or cantilevered overhang, perhaps even with columns to form an outdoor room. Internal walls can also extend from inside to outside to increase the visual flow of space and can be useful to frame a view or for privacy. Identical materials help this illusion and it is important to choose materials that work equally well inside and out, such as natural stone, brick, tiles or render.
Traditionally there is a 15cm step down from the inside floor level to the outside, to prevent water that can build up in heavy rain storms getting into the house. However recent advances in drainage mean that you no longer need to have that step. Instead we can fit a “slot” drain that runs continuously along the external door line to ensure that rain can always drain away. That reduces the step to only 2cm, which is enough to make sure rain doesn’t come inside the building, but also feels like it’s the same level inside and out.
Draw the Eye Outside
Prominent landscape features in the garden also draw the eye beyond the building line to add to the illusion of boundless space. This works really well at night if external lighting illuminates the landscape feature. Use of low level external lighting can also enhance the effect by lighting the external surface and it can look spectacular on dark evenings.