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Blending Indoor and Outdoor Living Design

Woman sitting in an armchair on a patio overlooking a backyard garden

Taking advantage of outdoor space expands the living area and brings the outdoors in. A seamless transition from inside to out also makes a home seem much larger than it otherwise would. People who love to take advantage of their yard enjoy the smoother transitions from one to the next.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, a median-sized lot for single-family detached homes is just under one-fifth of 1 acre, or 8,306 square feet. Since the average home hovers around 2,000 square feet, the idea of expanding space outward appeals to many families.

From patios to porticos to outdoor rooms, there are many ways designers can move a family from inside to outside without losing function or design. Here are some tips for blending outdoor and indoor living space so it seems like a cohesive unit.

1. Revamp a Patio

If a home has a patio located off a kitchen or living room, it’s quite easy to expand the space and transition outside. Start with the right doors. Sliding glass doors can be left open with a screen covering. French doors open in and make the outside seem like part of the space. Some homeowners enjoy a garage-style door with glass panels for complete outside access.

Designers should look for materials related to the design of the room the patio connects to. So, if the interior has a brown carpet, a brown rug at the base of the entryway helps transition people and make it feel it’s part of the same space. Add plants and accessories to further accentuate the feel.

2. Build a Sunroom or Solarium

Homeowners enjoy the many benefits of sunrooms, from day-to-day enjoyment to increased property values. Traditionally, the space has HVAC and can be kept hot or cold throughout the seasons, making it a room that’s useful year-round. On the other hand, a solarium is all windows and can be shut off to retain heat in the winter, creating some passive solar heating opportunities.

A sunroom tends to look more naturally like a part of the home, while a solarium feels a bit shut off from the house. Bringing decor from the home to the solarium helps transition people to the new room without such an abrupt change. Hang art and use rugs to your advantage.

3. Extend the Roof

A large overhang creates a sense of symmetry between the inside and outside parts of a home. Add ceiling fans and curtains on one side for an even homier feel. Being attached to the side of the home with a roof gives one a sense of being in a room without closing off the benefits of outside air and sunlight.

 Woman sitting on an outdoor couch

4. Install the Same Flooring

Don’t be afraid of materials that work inside and outside. For example, adding tiles in the kitchen and running the same tile out to the porch makes the two spaces seem like one. If the same material isn’t feasible, try to match the look and texture as closely as possible.

5. Bring Plants Inside

Use the room in the home to create a transition by adding plants. Plants are healthy and help connect you with nature. For example, WebMD reports spider plants can up the moisture in the air by about 10%, making residents more comfortable.

A bank of windows along the wall of the room facing the outside shows the backyard. Plants lined next to the exit create a seamlessly integrated feel between the backyard and the room.

6. Choose Dark Frames

When looking at a home from the outside, darker window casings seem to almost blend away. Unless the home is a stark white, go with a darker window.

It also helps to put in the largest window and door openings the homeowner can afford for a more seamless transition.

7. Mix Up Materials

Choose brick for an interior wall and shiplap for an outside wall. Using materials usually seen indoors outside helps create the impression of the two spaces being one. Obviously, you don’t want to use anything outside that might deteriorate in the elements, such as drywall, but there are many options that look like indoor items and aren’t.

Use exterior paint, but finish walls in a color typically seen inside. Hang an outdoor chandelier over a table. Think about how to make the space look cozier and more home-like.

Blend Indoor and Outdoor Design

Outdoor living areas expand the available space and make small homes look and feel larger. The versatility of outside living gives homeowners more options than they’d otherwise have, especially for larger families on a budget.

Even for people with huge homes and yards, some may enjoy the feel of bringing nature more in line with their design.



Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated. Her work focuses on interior and architectural design and has been published by Build Magazine, the National Association of REALTORS and other online publications.