7 simple design ideas to bring the outdoors in

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in outdoors in | No Comments

1. Choose exterior material colors inspired by elements found in the existing landscape.


Dark bronze siding, fascia, & exposed beams were selected from the color of the bark of the surrounding evergreen trees

ext-south facade-view from road

The brick color for this home was chosen from the straw color of the grass that surrounds the house.

The colors of this home were selected by observing the existing landscape, choosing colors found in the trees and grasses and sticking to this simple palette of two material tones.  The dormant grass color was chosen because most of the year in Colorado the straw grass color prevails.

2. Bring the materials from the outside of the home to the interior finishes of the house.


The wood ceilings & exposed beams of this butterfly roof are carried from the outside into the interior spaces. Glass is carried from floor to ceiling to provide unobstructed views.


The green roof serves to tie the distant views and landscape to this outdoor deck. Even the decking materials were chosen to most closely match the wood flooring on the interior, to carry your eye from inside out without interruption.

It is important to be consistent with this idea.  In the photo below, even the concrete patio is carried indoors to tie the courtyard & outdoor dining space to the interior dining room using a concrete threshold, which also serves as a durable area to kick off your shoes as you enter the main living areas.

courtyard to dining-living

3.  Bring the glass from floor to ceiling.

This involves some simple engineering collaboration between architect and structural engineer, but the effect is dramatic and brings your eye to the sky without a header to interrupt the views.  Also, using large expanses of glass not only helps with the passive solar design and daylighting, it also makes the outdoor scenery seem grand as the panes of glass are larger than the human scale.

4. Transparency

ext-sunroom-yoga room

Rooms such as this sunroom with glass on two or more sides feel transparent as the landscape beyond is visible from the outside through the windows.

5. Reflection


Reflective surfaces such as this dining room table can serve to bring the outdoors in. You can actually see the clouds and blue sky reflecting perfectly on the table surface.

Reflecting pools and water features can be easy ways to achieve this effect, as can polished concrete floors, or even glass.

6.  Framed views & carefully chosen window locations

When deciding how to both size and locate windows, a bit of careful consideration will allow you to capture the view, screen out any unwanted views, and provide privacy.  Careful placement of new trees and landscaping can also compliment the window placement.

7.  Open up the space and provide access to outdoor rooms.

Operable windows, lift slide doors and bi-fold doors allow you to open up, and be a part of the outdoors.  These spaces serve to make the house seem larger than it is as they provide outdoor rooms to live in.  In the home pictured here there is a central courtyard space, two roof decks-one with an outdoor shower, and a small deck from the guest room that function as outdoor rooms yet still offer a sense of privacy.