A backyard is a place where you can feel free to play, entertain, and relax in the sun, which is why it makes sense that your home should be an extension of this popular outdoor living area. Creating a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces not only looks beautiful but can function as a true extension of the indoors. This design style is called indoor-outdoor living, and it embodies truly bringing the outdoors into the home and vice versa.

Designing the perfect indoor-outdoor living space doesn’t have to be a daunting task as long as you approach your project with these tips in mind.

Light filled family room open to patio

Layout and Space Planning

When creating an indoor-outdoor living space, always look at it as one large room rather than two distinct areas. There are a few ways to do this. 

First, chose the main focal point of the indoor-outdoor space. Is it an outdoor firepit, swimming pool, or grilling area? If so, try to orient the furniture in both the indoor area and the outdoor area so that it faces or allows for clear viewing of the focal point. 

Open rooms flow onto deck

To best accomplish this, make a floor plan. This can be provided by your architect, builder, or general contractor, or you could measure the space and sketch it yourself. Next, use sticky notes to represent the different pieces of furniture. Stick them on different parts of the space and see how you can achieve a cohesive layout that maximizes views of the focal point.

Another element to consider when planning your indoor-outdoor living space is the level of the floor. When you drop down or step up when going from inside to outside, it creates an additional barrier between the two spaces. When the floor level doesn’t change when moving from inside to outside, it helps the spaces feel more connected and behave like one seamless room.

Finishes and Materials

Another way to enhance the feeling of having one seamless room is by using the same finishes and materials both inside and out. For the flooring, having a single surface material or a close match in appearance will draw the eye from inside to the outside and further enhance the feeling of being in just one space, even if there is an exterior wall used for separation. 

To further merge indoor-outdoor spaces, choose complementary colors. Fabrics selected for exterior seating can match the paint colors used in the interior of the home. If you have a gray accent wall on the interior, use shades of gray for cushions, pillows, or other surfaces on the exterior. Rugs add softness to an exterior space and make it feel like an extension of the interior. If you are using a rug outdoors, make sure it is weather-resistant.

Patio and family room with matching finishes and flooring

Lastly, consider planters. Chose planters for your exterior potted plants that can also be used indoors for your house plants. Having a single look and feel for plants housed on the inside and on the outside of this singular living area is yet another way to bring cohesivity to the indoor-outdoor space. 

Lighting

Lighting can also connect indoor and outdoor spaces. Though you may need to use fixtures designed for outdoor use, you can ensure that their style and finish matches the lamps and lighting used on the inside. If your indoor light fixtures are brass, bronze, black or brushed silver, make sure your exterior light fixtures are the same finish. If the fixtures on the interior of the home are modern in style, make sure your exterior lighting choices are of the same aesthetic. 

Softer lighting used outside can make an outdoor living area feel more like the interior. Rather than using flood lights or spotlights, consider hanging pendants or sconces. You can even add some extra magic by hanging exterior string lights that mimic the feeling of being in a bistro or café. 

Patio lighting harmonizes with interior lighting

Methods of Separation

The way you choose to separate the interior and exterior spaces could make the biggest impact on your overall design and help you truly embrace an indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

Many people have simple sliding doors or large bay windows that look out to their outdoor spaces, but to make the biggest impact, ditch solid walls and windows entirely and replace them with something more impactful like a sliding or folding glass door. The more transparency between the inside and outside, the more the two areas will feel like one large space. 

Double multi-slide doors create multiple connections from patio to great room

These moving walls of glass slide open to create one large space for entertaining or can close to protect a home during harsher weather. In addition to creating a seamless transition from the outdoors to the inside, sliding and folding glass doors provide increased natural light and ventilation and help rooms appear more spacious. This is indoor-outdoor living at its finest, when the two areas merge together.

Indoor-outdoor living is achievable when you take into consideration the layout and space planning, materials and finishes, lighting, and methods of separation. With these design considerations in mind, you’ll end up with a space that truly embodies indoor-outdoor living.