Blurring the boundaries – top tips for blending your house and garden
We usually think of our homes and gardens as separate spaces, but if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, even a tiny patio, then linking your home and garden will help you make the most of both. Blurring the boundaries between house and nature will even make your home look bigger and create a feeling of space and calm.
In the UK we don’t have year-round sunshine and balmy evenings, but providing your alfresco dream isn’t based on living in California, there are plenty of ways to exploit every warm, dry day and savour the seasonal changes. You don’t even have to be outside to enjoy the outdoors.
Imagine home and garden as one
If you’re starting from scratch, then designing the two spaces as one is an obvious way to ensure continuity and harmony. But you can employ the same rationale if you’re on the cusp of building an extension to the back of the house or altering it in some way. And if you’re in the process of opening up your kitchen-dining area
it’s an ideal time to incorporate the exterior into your interior designs and plans.
“Creating a harmonious connection between house and garden is something I’m increasingly asked to think about in my designs as people seek to make the most of all of their space.” Carl
Living the dream
As with all designs, the best place to start is by figuring out how you will use this part of the house
and how the area outside can be an extension of your living space. In the summer it’s about blurring the lines between the two; think doors flung open, drinks in the garden, dining outside and extra space with fresh air and vitamin D built in. In the winter months, just being able to see greenery and sky is proven to have a huge boost on our well-being, as well as creating the illusion of more space.
The trick is in creating a seamless transition between inside and outside and we have 7 top tips to share for linking your home and garden.
1. Bring the outside in with more glazing
Incorporating more glass into the boundary between house and garden draws the eye outside and gives the impression of more space. A set of stylish glass doors creates a transparent wall and provides an uninterrupted view outside, creating the illusion that there is no barrier between house and garden.
You can accentuate this by choosing doors with narrow frames or those designed to deliver the maximum potential for opening.
Bifold doors are popular because they completely fold away when open, while sliding doors will create a partial opening – a good choice if you want to keep more of the outdoors where it belongs. French doors still give you the view and let in light and they generally have more glass and less UPVC than they used to.
Remember that in the UK at least, the number of days you will have the doors fully open is unlikely to match how many days they are closed or half open.
Choose something with options for partial opening and ensure that they look just as good when fully closed. – Carl
Make sure you get the balance right as much glass or too much of the wrong sort of glass can lead to heat loss in winter and high internal temperatures when it’s hot. The latest energy-efficient glazing, such as thermal glass, has reduced the problem, but glass will always be less energy efficient than standard building materials.
2. Level the thresholds and use the same flooring
Having a level floor between the house and garden means you aren’t stepping outside so much as crossing an invisible line. And using the same flooring for both will draw the eye outside.
Make sure to choose a floor suitable for indoor and outdoor use, though bear in mind that the outside area will weather and age. Selecting similar colour flooring can also work.
3. Blending your interior and exterior design
Create some flow and enhance the illusion of a single larger living space by using materials and colours outside that match the interior. Reflect the colour of your interior walls with similar-coloured flowering plants or cushions on the garden furniture. Use a similar shade or texture on the walls or matching styles of lighting.
4. Create an outside room
You don’t need a full-blown garden room to maximise outdoor living. A covered outdoor space allows you to dine al fresco with the advantage of the kitchen close by and can be as elaborate or simple as space and budget allow.
Choose a full roof extending from the house but leave it open at the front, or attach a simple sun canopy that provides shade in summer and rain protection when the UK weather reverts to type.
Incorporating a partial wall will provide even greater protection from the elements and extend the seasonal use of your outside space. You might not be eating Christmas dinner on the patio, but you could find yourself sipping mulled wine on an autumn evening.
5. Bringing nature inside
The world could be divided by the people who don’t see the point of indoor plants, and those who lovingly nurture them like children (and those who simply kill them).
For those in the first camp, it’s time to reconsider. Adding some greenery into your home
is one of the best ways of softening your interior space and adding interest, contrast and structure.
Keep it simple
You don’t need to go full orangery. A few indoor plants in the area adjacent to the garden will blend the room with the outside, especially if you choose plants with similar colours and foliage.
Hanging plants are a great way to draw the eye to a different level, add some interest to a dull or empty corner and work especially well if you have a sloping ceiling.
And for plant killers everywhere, there are now some fantastic artificial plants that will fool the best of them.
6. Light up the garden
Lighting the garden at night will ensure that your exterior space isn’t simply a dark void during the long winter evenings but something you can enjoy all year round. Garden lighting needn’t cost the earth, especially as when it comes to exterior lighting, less is definitely more.
Lighting should be subtle; think about creating atmosphere with depth and shadow and highlighting specific areas of planting or a special tree or shrub. A handful of tasteful lights or a string of festoon lanterns will look pretty in small gardens.
If you’ll be eating or entertaining outside in the evening, then you’ll need some functional lighting, but your guests should not be sitting under a glaring bulb. For ambience use festoon lights or hanging lanterns.