Designing Outdoor Living Spaces: Advice From An Experienced Interior Designer

As an interior designer in Sarasota, Florida, I am often asked to design living spaces that embrace the outdoors. For much of the year, the climate in Sarasota has balmy breezes and minimal bug-life, and you can spend a great deal of time either in the sun or under cover. Either way there are many ways to enjoy comfort and luxury while enjoying nature’s gifts.

One of the ways we like to use the outdoors is an architectural feature often called a “loggia”. This is often a terrace with a roof, sometimes part of the structure of a house, sometimes a free-standing pavilion. We often furnish them with handsome teak-framed furniture (from sustainable forests, of course). We love they way this develops a beautiful silvery patina in just a few years. We use loose, thick and luxe cushions on them, covering them with the new indoor/outdoor fabrics. These are made of polyesters which are now being made to look and feel much more like cotton yet hold up against rain and are resistant to mildew. They dry quickly too. They can come in bright weaves and marvelous prints that can be bold and tropical or quiet tones for subtle and quiet rooms.

For many of these spaces, we use them as outdoor living rooms, which they are. When we are using stone floors in an interior, we like to use the same material to carry to the outside, uniting the indoors and the outdoors. This gives a great feel of expansiveness and connection. These floors are stone or tile with a honed or tumbled finish that gives them a more rustic and casual surface. They are cool and easy to walk on in the shade, a lovely relief from the heat in the summer on bare feet!

Walls are as non-existent as possible. The whole point is to welcome the view of the sun, the sea and the sky. We recently completed a home facing the Gulf with one wall being the wall of the home, with expansive openings onto the Loggia and the water beyond. Three sides of the loggia can be closed and secured with a coiling closure that provides protection from storms and security when the owners are not in residence. The closures retract discretely into the ceiling when the house is open. When the closures are up, there is no barrier between the indoors except the furnishings on the loggia – an extension of the living space. One moves effortlessly from the indoors to the outdoors. Outdoor curtains can be another way of “dressing up” a terrace. The draperies can be closed at the most intense moments of the afternoon sun and then opened when the light modulates and welcomes us back. Casual tie-backs can hold the curtains at the corners of the space then, to keep the view clear and expansive.

As much as possible we make these spaces outdoor rooms. Where there are wall surfaces we often hang mirrors, to reflect the view and bring more light to the interior and as a handsome decorative treatment for the walls. We add other furnishings too, like lamps – with heavy ceramic bases, and positioned close to walls so that they are safe from wind and rain. Hurricane lamps on tables adding the soft glow of candlelight at dusk is a wonderful feature as well. If we need to add other decorative lighting we often use surface-mounted fixtures to the ceiling or bold and weather-resistant sconces to the walls. Hanging fixtures can be problematic unless they can be secured against high winds. Ceiling fans however are often designed with short or rigid stems so that they can be used to help stir a breeze and be a decorative element as well.

In addition to loggias, terraces and decks can extend the living space. Terraces off of bedrooms are lovely areas in the early morning and the evening for moments of quiet contemplation and to recover and rejuvenate in a private outdoor space. Once again, comfortable indoor/outdoor furnishings make them feel more like living rooms than just a deck with a hard chair. Amenities can often include a wet bar, an outdoor shower, and a fireplace or firepit. All of these things help extend the time we can spend under the sky or the stars.

Home Design Services

To own a home that you actually designed and created according to your taste is virtually everybody’s ambition. Rather than just renting or buying a house was designed by someone else, you of course would want a place that you have planned yourself to fit your likes. But designing a house could be a very difficult endeavor. Chances are you do not have a background in architecture and could probably only draw stick figures. How then can you put into paper what you have in mind about the house of your dreams?

Fortunately, this problem may easily be solved by availing of home design services that could make the job so easy and convenient for you.

Here are among the many reasons you should avail of home design services:

-Home design services could boost your ideas and help you create beautiful house designs that you find difficult to translate into an actual plan.

-Home design serves may also work according to you budget so that you do not overspend nor would you be too stingy about your dream home.

-You can still add your personal touches because the home design service would cater to your needs and preferences.

-Home design services would do the actual sketching and drafting job for you, plus many more services that would help you build a home.

-You would not be wasting your paper and pencil because the plans that home design services make are very efficient and cost effective. They would know how best to fit the cabinets and furniture you would want to have in your house.

-Home design services could go beyond the floor plan of your house, they could also help you plan your landscape and other elements included in your dream home.

-You can get sound advice regarding technical matters such as the plumbing and the electrical wiring system of the house because they know a lot of such details. Home design services may even tell you the kinds of cooling, water, heating, and power systems you might need.

-You can ask home design services different materials to visualize your dream house such as blue prints, computer aided graphics, prospective sketches and even scale models.

-It is also better to be able to talk to someone as you plan your dream home. When you avail of home design services, you would be working other human beings and be able to share with them the joys of planning your home.

What to look for when availing of home design services:

1. Service package inclusions – the home design service provider you choose should go beyond just drawing floor plans and making blue prints. They should be able to give you different perspectives and useful suggestions regarding the house you are dreaming about. They should be able to listen to your wants and follow them as much as possible given the constraints of your resources.

2. Good Communication Channels – you would want the home design service company to be easy to deal with. The main reason you are availing of their service is that you need help to design your house, and thus you should be able to have an effective means of communication to do this.

3. Good Service – the service provider should be able to assist you with all your needs. Designing a house is a complex matter, and they should be very knowledgeable about issues of building a house.

Designing your house can be very fun and exciting and it can definitely be made easier with the help of home design services. So why not look through your local directory or search the web to check for home design services near you.

New Ideas In Modern Home Design

Home trends change along with the needs of consumers and of the general population. Modern home design aims to satisfy those changing needs by providing simplistic design with loads of storage space–a common problem found in older homes where dwellers find it impossible, or at least challenging, to store their personal items in a logical and organized manner. The design must be capable of providing such solutions for the home to be functional, and that has architects, interior designers, and builders scrambling to come up with great ideas every year.

Given the opportunity to build simple home designs enable the homeowner to add personal touches to customize their future home so that it meets their own needs. For instance, a very outgoing and athletic family needs solutions to store away their sporting equipment when it’s not in use, but in a way that their equipment is easy to reach whenever necessary. This is what makes a home functional, and it is imperative in modern home design. Future homeowners can work side-by-side with architects to customize their homes to perfect them according to their individual lifestyles. It can be a small adjustment to increase the size of a closet, which could make all the difference, but would likely not greatly affect the budget.

New home ideas can turn an otherwise simple home into something spectacular, such as with adding features that would have been more common in older homes, like the ceiling medallions and crown moldings. Such features add beauty and interest to what would otherwise be very bland spaces. A smart idea that uses space wisely includes maximizing every square inch available, such as in the commonly wasted space beneath a staircase, which can be altered with fitted pull out drawers. This would provide space to store outerwear, footwear, and much more!

Focus on lighting–both artificial and natural light. The home can never have too much light, and so the budget should allow for numerous light sources throughout the home, from one room to the next. Keep in mind that one central ceiling-mounted light fixture just won’t do, and instead, aim for six light sources per room. As for natural light, with all the advances in insulated windows today, choose a design that lets the sun shine in through as many openings as possible.

Building and design trends today incorporate numerous innovative ideas for achieving the optimum comfort level, with interest to spare. Design software readily available to professionals and consumers alike allow each to develop a space in 3D that simplifies expression and enables those ideas to come alive, whether they are related to the must-have kitchen island or the fire pit in the center of the sunken living room. Knowing how to communicate visions and desires is the key to achieving the home of your dreams.