Look deep into nature and you will understand everything. ~ Albert Einstein
Interior design is often thought of as only on the INSIDE of spaces; however, in my humble opinion, design can include anything and anywhere that you place thoughtful intention.
Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors so it became a mission of mine to help encourage the design of spaces to expand to the OUTDOORS wherever possible. All of our environments – indoors and outdoors – affect us deeply and can ENHANCE or DETRACT from the overall quality of our lives.
For maximum health and happiness, we need to be more connected to nature and the outdoor environment. Purposefully designing your outdoor spaces to be more livable, functional and beautiful for you to use and spend time in outside as often as possible is one step toward these life goals.
In larger apartments or private homes, your outdoor spaces can include a back, front, or side yard, a garden, or larger terraces and even roof decks. In smaller spaces, your front porch or entrance, terrace or balcony, and even your windowsills are the link with nature, so they can be designed to maximize this connection.
No matter how large or small your outdoor space is, it is the INTENTION of connecting with nature that matters most when designing these spaces.
Ultimately, the purpose is to get us to interact with nature more regularly. Feng Shui encourages linking your indoor and outdoor space because it helps us to remain in balance with nature’s rhythms and connects us with our natural world. Feng Shui advises that our environment will always win, so we ought maximize it to our best benefit whenever possible.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and
the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Khalil Gibran
DESIGN TIPS: OUTDOOR SPACES
When you do have outdoor space, it is a great idea to make sure you thoughtfully consider the design of this space as much as your interior spaces. I am always surprised when I see people that have a great terrace or garden and they neglect to use them because they do not seem to know how. Here are some EASY IDEAS to help make your outdoor space as cozy as your interior ones.
Making sure you can use your space during all sorts of weather is a good step toward being outdoors more often. You can get umbrellas or canopies to help create a covering, or you can be creative and make your own using tent canvas or parachute material. Make sure it is connected in such a way that it will be able to withstand the wind and rain.
Enhanced lighting for use in the evening or nighttime will also increase the use of outdoor space. Adding fairy lights to a tree, bushes, or along a fence can make an outdoor space feel more cozy and decorated. See if there are outdoor extension cords available so you don’t need to worry about the electrical getting damaged by the elements. If there is no electricity, you can also be creative with candles or solar powered lights that charge during the day and light up only when it is dark.
Adding some form of flooring or covering on the ground adds to the coziness of the space and increases the sense of a conversational space. In Morocco and Turkey, I first saw the layering of old carpets on the ground in order to create a sense of comfort. Depending on your space and goals, you may consider a more permanent outdoor floor covering such as stone, bricks or gravel. If you choose to lay a form of semi-permanent floor covering, you ought to consider making it semi-permeable for water drainage purposes. My favorite idea is a checkered brick or stone patio with herbs planted to fill in the cracks.
Adding a focal point such as a fire pit or a fire place is a great way to give a sense of intimacy to your outside area. Clustered seating together around a focal point such as fireplaces, fire pits or bonfires have traditionally been gathering spots for storytelling. Additionally, these can be a place to cook and share meals together such as a BBQ pit. Sometimes these are not allowed because of space constraints or regulations, but you can still create a clustered seating area to create a conversation nook without them.
Planters with Personality.
Having your plants, flowers and herbs designed in such a way to represent your own personal style will also maximize the feeling that your outdoor space is a reflection of your interior space. Some ideas include using old canisters or unused kitchen items to have creative or fun planters to spice up your outdoor space. You can go to flea markets or search your own basement for these gems to add a creative flare to the way in which you garden. Another way is to paint your pots. Add a splash of boldness. Be creative – and think outside the box!
Different Seating Styles.
Since the idea of an outdoor space is often for socializing, it is a great idea to get all sorts of different style and types of seating to accommodate everyone. This can include everything from classic lounge chairs to hammocks and even pieces of old driftwood. Adults and kids will select the pieces of furniture that they are happiest with, and everyone will make it their own space. Being creative also adds a sense of fun to the space.
Play with the Elements.
Accept that you are outdoors. Be prepared for the weather and embrace it! Keeping heaters or blankets nearby is a good idea to avoid the need to go inside the moment the temperature drops. Having just traveled to Germany myself, I was amazed to see that they offered blankets in every outdoor bar or restaurant for people to stay warm just for this purpose.
You can also have wind chimes nearby to remind you of the wind and let it give you a sense of being alive!
Design your spaces to design the life you want. Being indoors too much disconnects us from the world and ultimately ourselves. Make the most of your outdoor space, whatever size it is, whatever budget you have.
Be outside and connect with the elements! Live life fully. Have fun. Strive to be happy.