Maximize the Flow of Your Home from Interior Spaces to Exterior Paradise
Nicki West knows people. “I’m really intuitive about how people socialize, how they party.”
For this well-respected interior designer, this isn’t just an idle concern, though. Understanding how people work is one of the foundations of the innovative and, yes, intuitive designs that she creates for her clients.
And it’s the establishment of outdoor spaces to which West has y been drawn more and more. “It seems like in the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot more hardscape and structural designing on outdoor spaces and that’s been very exciting for me. I really enjoy it.”
To West, planning to utilize an outdoor space is natural: it’s all about our area’s weather. “Our incredible weather lends itself to a casual lifestyle. Because it’s temperate into the evenings through the late spring and summer, we tend to sit outside to eat, have barbecues, hang outside for the fire pit or just have a conversation late into the evening.”
“Even though the economic level might be different, the socializing we see is often still the same.
CH sat down with West to get some tips on how to instill your outdoor space with all the comforts of (the inside of your) home.
West says that while most of her designs start indoors, she is always keeping an eye out for how a design will translate or flow into an outdoor space. “I make reference to the materials that I might be using. As I move outside those materials used in the interior will make their way outside as well. This is so that there’s not a complete disconnect, a schizophrenic outside to inside.”
In a recent client home, West tied slabs of blue stone into the interior space by using it as a focal point on the hearth, then echoed this choice with the same blue stone as flooring outdoors.
Same goes for color, says West. “If I’m using rusts and aquas or taupes and blues on the inside, that color connects to the outside. If there are large windows and you can see the interior and exterior at the same time then that color on the wall and that material used is connected so it flows as a unit.”
Takeaway: Bring colors, patterns or materials from inside to your outdoor space. Consider all-weather fabrics and paints that can do double-duty inside and out.
West says that she thinks of an outdoor space the same as any living space on the inside. “When you have an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor dining room or an outdoor living room, they’ll all function exactly as they would outside. So I always build in the comfort aspect outside just like I would outside.”
This means bringing those things we use indoors—the big screen TV, the dining room table—into an outdoor space. “Here we can be outside nine months out of the year, if not more, so I see a lot of those things people love coming outdoors so they can enjoy them around the firepit.”
Takeaway: Consider moving traditionally interior pieces outside so you can enjoy them and the weather, too.
“People are creatures of habit,” says West. “So they socialize in the same kind of manner outside as inside.” For West, this means that exterior design should hit the same targets as an interior space.
“Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, people often stay around the dining table to socialize after they’ve finished eating so I try to build in a good social space, they often stand around the kitchen also, so it’s good to include a big island where they can congregate.”
“It’s about the weather and how that backyard is used. Some people have the luxury of the entire house opening to the exterior, they tend to spend a lot more time out there. Some people just have a single door to the backyard. They might spend all their time out there or not any time. It really depends on what you’re into. But in general, most of the people I deal with are socializing and cooking and entertaining outside.”
Takeaway: Consider how you already utilize your interior spaces to ensure you get the most from your outdoor area. If you don’t use the table indoors, don’t expect the change of scenery to make a difference. Instead, place an all-weather couch or chairs around focal points like fire pits or pools or in groupings which can encourage conversation.