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    By Designhaus Architecture
    Mar 7, '16 10:42 AM EST

    Spring is here.  It’s time to start dreaming about how to enjoy the outdoors again.  Turns out, at least according to the home building industry insiders that I know, enjoying the outdoors is now top priority in custom home designs.  Specifically, a room that is both indoor and outdoor.  I am not talking about the traditional porch or back deck; I mean a real multi-function space that has the best of both worlds.  

     Here are the top five design items to incorporate when planning your "outdoor room": 

    1. Proportion: Make sure the room is large enough in both length and width to accommodate a breezy and rainy day.  We don't design these rooms for extremes, but if the room is smaller than 8 feet along an open edge, more than likely, rain will blow onto the finger sandwich tray and really spoil the party.  Fixing the rain issue on a small lanai starts with screens, which leads to vinyl sheet, which lead to windows...and now you are back to square one.  I recommend a usable space of at least 15x15 feet or larger. 

    2. A Real Roof: These spaces are never convincing as "rooms" with a partial roof, open trellis or fabric tent-like covering.  Those features have their place in life, just not in your functional outdoor living space.  A real roof affords you a place to have evenly distributed lights, fans and even radiant heat sources...all items that add to the "indoor" feel of the dichotomy. 

    3. Multi-Use: Couches (exterior grade fabrics please), fireplace or fire pit, grilling kitchenette, dining table are all options that allow functions formerly imprisoned indoors, the freedom to choose the outside. Television, music listening, reading and hanging out on Facebook are great activities that are given a whole new spirit with the breeze blowing through your hair. Contrary to a deck, which is subject to weather extremes like direct sun, glare, uneven lighting and rain, the outdoor living room can be used without interference throughout the day and night, including during those pesky pop-up rain showers. Porches almost qualify, except they are often located poorly to interface the appropriate indoor support spaces and too often they place you out front, where you may not want your neighbors to see how often you binge-watch Netflix.


      4. Connection to the Home:  The Outdoor Living Room must be a true extension of the main house.  The floors should align without steps and the connection should be bold.  I recommend at least 8 feet of opening and/or glass between the house and the outside space.  Creativity is key here.  Window and door manufacturers have responded to this trend with folding walls of glass that virtually disappear.  Depending on styling, I like the glass garage doors as well.  The program of the outer room should complement the inner room to which it attaches, in other words, when attaching to the kitchen, focus on living space; when attaching to a dining space on the inside, create the cooking area or bar immediately in the outside room. 

    5.  Connection to the Yard:  This is an idea similar to #4 insofar that there will be times that the yard itself becomes part of the activity.  Yard parties may include gazebos, tents, games, etc.  The outside room must be juxtaposed to these activities to keep all of the occupants and party goers involved and interested.  I recommend grading the yard right up to the floor of the outside room, or at the very least providing gentle terracing for practicality or even a type of stadium seating for yard activities.  The best outdoor room-to-yard transition is seasonal landscaping the animates the outside room all year long while providing a soft middle-ground between the background of the view or vista and the immediate foreground of the house itself.   

    • 1 Comment

    • Kimwatts

      Great article, I design and make outdoor sofas.  This market has increased over the last 3 years.  The hard thing is getting away from grey.  So far I have delivered over 1200 pieces.  I've seen some awesome outdoor areas.  The use of open fire heating is great idea.  Being able to see stars on cool nights warm blankets. Good wine

      Apr 6, 17 7:39 am  · 

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This blog would pertain to more of what architecture and design is and how it's slowly changing. There are also professional ways on what design is, and how to achieve and accomplish these things such as how one can make their building more attractive. I'll share my content about how architecture has taken a step into the abstract, as more architects try to steer away from the normal to step outside the box.

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