Have you ever wondered how your garden can add value to your indoor living? Well, you know it’s never too late to learn!
Welcome back to my new article. With most of our time being at home due to partial lockdown measures, there isn’t a better time for me to show you how gardens relate to interior living, and, most importantly, how it affects our wellbeing.
Before we delve into this topic, I would like to get the basics out of the way. A 'garden' is an outdoor space, which consists of both natural and man-made materials. It can be made of various forms of nature including small plants, a variety of shrubs, hedge boundaries, large trees as a background feature, vertical elements like climbers and trainers, ground cover, or even a nice water feature. There is an assortment of combinations depending on whether the property is a vintage manor in the countryside, or a typical house in a dense urban fabric. For our purposes, I'll be specifically targeting the most common type that is a residential garden.
A garden could be a small part of a backyard or a large expansive land surrounding the entire house. The proportions and shapes vary widely. In any case, the point here is to explore how this piece of land that gets neglected most often, could be turned into a useful resource leading to tangible economic benefits. Most private residential owners have the tendency to overlook the value that their garden space can provide. Not much thought is given to the design, creativity, and maintenance of this valuable space. Some may certainly think that it's not worth investing in an outdoor space that's used rarely or never at all due to the English weather!
We rarely contemplate upon the benefits the places that we inhabit provide to our lives. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and the silver lining for this is our designers and architects, who wholeheartedly believe the outdoor perimeter space is the fulcrum that blends the architecture into the surrounding greenery.
Before we move on in-depth, let's take a quick glance at the subject of garden design.
Mediterranean styled garden designed by Dan Pearson Studio in Sissinghurst Castle illustrates how
an outdoor space is critical in creating custom themes © Dan Pearson Studio
Wild, rustic and a self-created. Of course, it need not always be a big area around the perimeter. This part of Fiona Golfar's garden at her Cornish house is full of helpful ideas for small gardens. Antique mirrors reflect light around the space, which is filled with plants in containers, a rustic table and benches, and cosy sheepskin coverings. © House and Garden
"Somebody once said garden design must be the slowest of the visual arts.
How true, but it is also one of the most complex and satisfying."
Garden and Interiors
An intimate spatial relationship between interior design and landspace architecture is what most people call a multi-disciplinary approach. I refer it as a spatial crossover from outdoors to indoors.
Garden design is a medium for expressing ideas, evoking memories, and stirring the senses. It's not just about beauty, but also about creating experiences. These experiences are not just limited to the outdoors or the garden itself, but can also extend to confer a range of benefits to interior living.
Yes, really - this can be achieved by the intelligent 'blending' of outdoor and indoor space that harmonises the natural and human-built environment.
Blending is just a showy word referring to 'blurring the boundaries' between the garden and your house. It's about creating transparencies and permeability. As a simple example, breaking down a solid (garden facing) wall into a series of collapsible patios, large windows, glass doors and panes, etc. will allow more daylight into the interiors and create direct views to nature. This transforms a dull interior space into a bright and lively environment. Generally, in most common layouts, this significantly enhances living, dining and kitchen areas. But how exactly is it beneficial? Let's dive deep...
Any design intervention primarily aims to fulfil two aspects: Aesthetics and Functionality.
- By creating transparent boundaries between the garden and the house one can achieve long-distant views across spaces. These unbroken sightlines not only make the internal space look bigger, but they also create a sense of 'prospect'; which is one of the spatial concepts used in biophilia design that aids in human wellness (my post on biophilia design). E.g. A space with an unimpeded view over a distance, or places with partially obscured views entice an individual.
- Secondly, you are in constant touch with nature! Why wouldn't someone want to have a continuous view of pristine nature over a cup of coffee from their living room after a long day? According to Attention Restoration Theory1, nature can replenish our mental and attentional capacity, which is to say that after tiring our brains from too much “directed attention”, exposure to nature can revitalise you!2 . Read more about the benefits here.
A view from inside of the conservatory © Laurel Bern
East facing patio with south facing glazed roof in this contemporary living area gives us a basic scope © Houseextension
Even the smaller perimeter spaces can balance the inside and outside through micro gardens © Homedsgn
- When it comes to the functional aspects, the most important benefit is the 'daylight optimisation' in the interiors. By encouraging the use of glazed elements like patios, windows, or doors along the exterior wall (especially facing south) one can naturally increase the daylight indoors. The importance of daylight for healthy living has been discussed here in my previous post.
- Also, the collapsible patios opening up into an outdoor space provides an extended area to the existing interior space, which could be used to host family functions and weekend parties. This is especially helpful during pandemic conditions where more natural air circulation and wider floor space is desired.
Sunroom turned into a bright dining area © Laurel Bern
Choosing a glazed panel over a solid composite door creates
a degree of permeability between spaces © Pinterest
"I believe in the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy."
Lord Norman Foster (Foster & Partners)
- By investing in garden design, a neglected area can be transformed into an amazing multi-functional outdoor vicinity that adds to your usable floor space
- High-quality garden and interiors lead to the direct capital appreciation of the property
- Accommodating functional nature into your garden contributes towards environment upvaluing and biodiversity - congratulations!
- And of course, well-designed environments add value to the quality of life, work, and health as well as create a unique user experience
Methods of Blending: A case study
Be it garden or interiors, my designs are all about creating ambiences through enjoyable spaces. In my recent residential project at Stockport, a holistic approach is used across both outdoor and indoor spaces. A long section through the proposed living room and extended dining area shows an extended collapsible patio, a proposed glass French Door and a floor to ceiling window. All have been designed in a minimalistic style with metal framework. They are crafted to transfer maximum levels of interior light using their minimalist profiles, and offer unimpeded and partially obscured outdoor views.
A section through the reconfigured living and dining Area © Wildwood Studio
01 Collapsible Patio Door
The existing patio sill is proposed to extend by 1.2m in width to maximise the outdoor views from the living area. The patio door could be either a bi-fold or a usual sliding type. A quick tip: where you prefer maximum space efficiency when breaking out into the outdoor spaces, bi-fold doors must be your choice.
02 French Door
A minimalistic aluminium French door replaces a window. The width of the door is matched with the current sill to simplify the installation.
03 Crittall Ceiling to wall window
A large-sized minimalistic window maximises the daylight onto the dining area and further into the kitchen.
04 Replication of Plant Species
To further relate to the sensory experience of nature from the garden, similar plant species have been used in the interior spaces.
A timeless garden with the combination of flat modular elements and a matrix of mixed vegetation, for a
490 sqm residential backyard space in Stockport designed by Wildwood © Wildwood Studio
What's the takeaway??
However big or small, your backyard space can add value to your indoor living. It doesn't have to be a big fancy Disneyland. It could just be an open green space with the right composition of species in the right places that get along with nature. Correspondingly, the structural modifications need not be complex either. It may be as small as extending the existing sills, having some extra mirrors to reflect the sunlight or light-coloured walls that resonate the daylight. Remember, the main thing is to establish visual and functional connections to the outdoors. By having a constant relation with their outdoor space, one is willing to invest time, effort and money into its care and enhancement.
Well, I hope that’s got the wheels turning for some of you. And, of course, garden or your interiors, do not hesitate to get in touch with me for any professional design services for your dream projects. With the right amount of creativity and expertise, we can add value to the quality of indoor life and produce a curated experience through our interdisciplinary interior and landscape designs.
I’m closing with this cool quote that always inspires me to work with challenges...
"Every space plays its own game. Where constraints create challenges,
and challenges evoke creativity!"
2Grinde, B., & Patil, G. G. (2009). Biophilia: Does visual contact with nature impact on health and wellbeing?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(9), Page 2334-2335