Did you know that the average person spends in excess of 90% of each day indoors? It’s not surprising that your interior environment − its ambience, comfort, function, and features − has a major impact on your day-to-day experience and quality of life. One of the essential elements impacting the character and appeal of any interior space is the visual connection to the outdoors and the amount of natural light entering the space. Recognition of these facts led to the primary reasons I became a landscape designer: my lifelong love of nature, and a keen sense and recognition of the importance of visually and physically connecting the interior with the exterior.
Expectations about the connection between interior and exterior translate into nearly universal design norms. For example, homeowners expect a window above your kitchen sink. If a home layout makes that impossible, designers will mimic the experience of visual relief, perhaps by locating the sink on an island looking toward the exterior.
As this design standard demonstrates, the importance of connecting the interior to the exterior cannot be underestimated. I don’t have concrete data to back this thinking, but I do believe a home with a strong link between outside and inside is more valuable in every way. For many reasons, I like to assess both when designing either. In other words, I approach a project from the inside out and the outside in. Designs that integrate interior and exterior produce an intrinsic sense of cohesiveness and harmony that is unlikely achieved any other way.
To create this indoor/outdoor connection, focus on blending aesthetics, capitalizing on views, integrating circulation, and improving functional relationships. You can achieve these goals by making simple interior or exterior changes and by engaging in more complex exterior projects or bringing the outside in. A great connection is achieved by the addition of a screened porch, an indoor and outdoor room in one!