Balancing Your Indoor-Outdoor Living Space

Small details make big differences when creating harmonious outdoor spaces

By JESSIE KIM

I live in Southern California where the weather is fair to warm most of the year. More builders and homeowners are looking at indoor-outdoor living space that they can enjoy year-round with their family and friends. Be it for a weekly BBQ or a special July 4th celebration, it feels good to be outside and enjoying the nature that surrounds us.

Feng Shui plays a part in every aspect of our lives and it applies to our outdoor space as well. Colors, materials, patterns and elements not only play a practical role in designing the ideal indoor-outdoor living space, but also attract or reflect energy. In other words, creating a balanced and harmonious space is pleasing to the eye and helps you create a balanced and harmonious life.

As an example, bright and colorful flowers leading along a pathway to your home and your yard can play an essential role. The sight and smell of carefully chosen flowers helps release happy hormones in your family and guests, while also attracting positive energy to the home. Alternatively, if you would like to add any thorny or sharp leaf plants like roses, be careful where you place them. Make sure they are far away from pathways and away from where people would be gathering. You wouldn’t want your family and guests getting poked and scratched while they are trying to have a good time.

Selecting the right type of furniture for your outdoor sitting area is also of utmost importance. Make sure that your furniture is clean, comfortable, and does not cramp the space. A dirty couch or broken wicker chair is hardly inviting. Selecting weather-resistant furniture is integral to the longevity of your furniture while making them easy to clean. Occasionally and inexpensively swap out the cushions and clean out the dirt and spider webs to refresh the space. Be sure to also provide enough clean table space for guests to place food and drinks for dinner and cocktail parties.

The right placement of a fire pit or barbeque can help gather people to support your home’s energy as well as provide a good area for sharing stories. Place these items farther away from the entry to allow space for people to feel free to move back-and-forth between the spaces. A barbeque too close to the entry can create a smoky force field, preventing people and energy from flowing freely.

When it comes to sunlight, balance is the key word. Give your guests the opportunity to soak in the sun but also offer them a respite from sunlight with some shade. Provide a combination of sitting and standing space in sunny locations while also providing some areas with umbrellas and awnings. Retractable awnings and umbrellas give the best of both worlds.

Larger landscaping items like trees can also be ideal, provided they don’t consistently shed leaves or fruit on your guests. When planting trees in your outdoor space, use trees with large and rounded leaves. Give roots lots of space for growth so they don’t eventually damage the home’s foundation or plumbing. Fruit trees are great; I recommend sweet apples and oranges, as they symbolize a sweet life. Fruiting or shedding trees, in particular, should be kept at the outside edges of the yard so as not to drop anything on guests. Be sure to also keep trees well-pruned so guests don’t have to crouch to avoid them.

A critical idea to remember when creating an indoor-outdoor living space is that even though we want the space to flow into or out of one another, we need to make sure that these two spaces still have clear boundaries. Make sure you can close the doors and the curtains when appropriate to keep the energy inside your home. Don’t let all that harmonious energy you’ve attracted leak out when nobody is utilizing your outdoor space.

If you are lucky enough to be in the early design phase of your home or opening the back of the house for your indoor-outdoor area, pay special attention to where you open the house to your patio. If possible, ensure that your front door and back door don’t line up. Energy needs to come through your front door to flow throughout the home, rather than immediately escape to the back.

Whether you live in a consistently warm climate like me, or you want to savor the sun for the few months you can, make the most of your outdoor space. Pay special attention to the items you choose and where you place them. Whether for Feng Shui or only for practical purposes, you’ll be glad that you did.

Jessie Kim (Ms. Feng Shui) is a 3rd generation Feng Shui consultant who primarily works with homebuilders. She can be reached at Jessie@MsFengShui.com or at www.MsFengShui.com.