Refreshing Your Indoor and Outdoor Space

Homes should celebrate the environment that surrounds it


It’s no question that the spring and summer months are the perfect time to bring the outdoors in. For most of us, we’ve been cooped up inside for far too long due to the pandemic, and the feeling of refreshing your space to create a cohesive environment that seamlessly transitions from the outside in is palpable.

As President of Brandon Architects, creating homes that celebrate surrounding environments is key. Learning that there is value in the beauty of nature at a young age, we are inspired to approach architecture and design in an organic way. Whether it’s inspiring beauty, or an environmentally sensitive footprint, a smartly designed project can lead to better living. From design to development, rooms and spaces bridge the gap between the interior of their projects to the exterior, ultimately acting as extensions to a home.

In order to accomplish this look and feel, implement dual-purpose materials that can function in both environments. From large open windows to sliding glass doors, decks, patios, and beyond, the possibilities are endless when opening up your home to an exterior-inspired aesthetic. While being located in more temperate climates allows easier access to al fresco dining, lounging, and living, everyone can blur the boundaries between inside and out regardless of location. Making sure to plan for recessed exterior heaters in an outdoor covered space or providing a cozy fire-pit or fireplace can prolong the season of use.

“Pergolas, porches, and decks are great elements to create extensions for enjoyment, entertaining, family lounging, and more.”

Look to consider materials that can often be found outside such as concrete and natural woods and utilize those elements inside as cabinetry, flooring, countertops, and beyond. Additionally, open floor plans and layouts can assist in the seamless transition from the interior to the exterior. Allow for open spaces between furniture and built-ins, celebrate the natural light through open windows
and doors, and create transitional areas that can act as usable square footage instead of second-thought spaces.

When building a new home or considering the design and function of your current home, take inspiration from those outdoor elements to maximize your indoor spaces. With many projects, the outdoor space is more important to design than the indoor space. We often start by sketching out the critical components of outdoor living and work our way back into the house. A few strategies that you can put into place include using window treatments to frame whatever beautiful outdoor backdrop surrounds your property. In a similar fashion, creating outdoor spaces that act as entertaining or lounging “rooms” is a wonderful way to spend more time outdoors while still feeling like you are in the comfort of your own home. I recommend extending your ceiling from the indoors to the outdoors, which will ultimately create a perception that those spaces are connected together. Furthermore, pergolas, porches, and decks are great elements to create extensions for enjoyment, entertaining, family lounging, and more.

A covered porch or patio can allow for indoor luxuries such as TVs, game rooms, and comfortable furniture that can provide a perfect indoor/outdoor space. Think of your outdoor spaces as rooms, and furnish them accordingly. They can take on many wonderful uses as well as grow and adapt with your family and lifestyle.

Additionally, using complementary architecture that mirrors your interior spaces can allow for an easy transition. For example, if your interior includes large beams, bold light fixtures, marble countertops and durable flooring, then you can purchase corresponding features for your outdoor spaces with a similar look while simultaneously ensuring that the outdoor-rated versions of these pieces are durable for harsher exterior elements. Thankfully there are many great fabrics made for outdoor use in the marketplace now. Sometimes we’ll find something perfect for the outdoor furniture first and use the same fabric on the inside.

The Brandon Architects’ team suggests making your exterior spaces more functional. In the end, you should be comfortable spending just as much time outside then you do inside, especially during the warmer months. A great way to ensure that your time outside is comfortable, look to incorporate elements such as an outdoor kitchen, a bar, an exterior fireplace, and more.

Ultimately, each home has the opportunity to celebrate its interior and exterior cohesively. It’s all a matter of pairing and mixing elements, capitalizing on existing landscapes, and enjoying the dual-purpose function that stems from a wide variety of everyday home details.

Chris Brandon is a registered California architect and member of the AIA with a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo.