Bringing the outside in!
Ok, so I know it’s a bit of a cliché and very ‘on-trend’ but connecting with the outdoors has always been extremely important to me. Therefore, to promote the idea of connecting our homes with the outside seems only natural.
To me, the sounds of nature, sunlight and fresh air are of paramount importance. The idea that spending time outside is beneficial for our physical and mental health is well documented: it seems that every other article you read promotes the benefits of this.
So why not embrace this in design?
Not every day is a balmy BBQ day but creating views out, letting light in and allowing your home to ‘breathe’ are surely valid all year round.
After several years of living with an old kitchen conceived in the 1930’s, we had really noticed how little we used our small rear garden and how ‘trapped’ the original design of the space made us feel. We set about altering the space to update the kitchen and significantly improve the connection between our inside and outside spaces.
I’m writing this three weeks into our national lockdown because of Corona virus, sitting outside, in the sun with WIFI connection! I’m truly grateful that I completed our kitchen renovations last year, and being able to unwind outside has really helped to get perspective during these strange times.
My family’s experience and journey are proof that alterations need not be hugely costly or involved; our project did not involve any extension work. Simply lifting the roof of an existing single storey extension, introducing large areas of glazing, creating a level threshold and planning the spaces so that they work as one has really made the world of difference.
In our case, we wanted the outside to be an extension of our kitchen and dining space. This vision resulted in designing a permanent space that we can sit, eat and cook in – in some instances using the same furniture in both spaces was important to achieve this.
Our redesign was completed as a DIY project and uses natural, simple and cost- effective materials to create the ‘feel’ that we were after. The project doubled our ‘living’ area by creating a more usable kitchen incorporating the outside whilst also turning an unused garden into a multifunctional space.
Key Design Moves
The key was to treat the entire space as one (inside and out), treating it as you would an inside room, ensuring it has function and a flow that allow it to be inhabited and used like any other room of the house. Introducing permanent seating, a BBQ and a table/ bench has helped achieve this in our project.
A built in BBQ means the space is ready to use at a moment’s notice – just like indoors.
Allowing the roof to project from the building enhances the feeling of the spaces being one, provides cover to sit under even in the rain and allows the doors to remain open during a downpour.
A level threshold was essential to make the space read as one, so movement from inside to out is seamless.
Fire Pit (aka old washing machine drum)
Introducing a heat source such as fire pit or heater extends the time we can spend outside, there is nothing better than cheating an early spring evening by hanging around outside until dark!
Intergraded fish pond
Incorporating features to add visual interest and sound also help to give the space identity.
Easy to maintain planting and a small kitchen garden soften areas of hard landscaping and give the room a function – one not easily attained inside.
Finally, lighting is important for two reasons: to light and give ambience to the space when using it and secondly to light the space when viewed from the inside on the less appealing winter nights.
I hope this has given you some inspiration. If you wanted to talk about your own inside outside project then do give us a call.
(first blog attempt!)
Ps during construction – the hard bit!