Each week Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to design outdoor space.
An outdoor space is that little (or big) piece of Zen that creates the ultimate “ahh” moment. Whether you’re working with a tiny interior courtyard or have acres of land to play with, designing a space that’s both modern and idyllic means “touching everything outside the four walls of a home: the garden, pool, hardscape, pool house, driveway, motor court, and anything in between,” said landscape designer Fernando Wong, founder of Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design in Miami.
“I always look to the home’s architecture first to inform my work. I like to think of the architecture as the picture and landscape as the frame, so if I’ve done my work correctly, homeowners won’t notice the landscape at all but instead feel instant calm,” Mr. Wong said. “After all, a home’s outdoor space should evoke serenity and inspire owners to rest, relax, and recharge.”
An outdoor area is also a chance to maximize living and entertaining space, said architect Mark Zeff, founder of interdisciplinary architecture and design firm MARKZEFF in Brooklyn, New York. “Visually, it creates interest beyond the interior of the house and gives you more flexibility for entertaining and relaxing,” Mr. Zeff said.
Here are some tips from the pros to help you design your dream space.
— Mansion Global (@MansionGlobal) July 19, 2017
Pick Plantings Wisely
“I use native plants whenever possible; we know they’ll do well and tend to use less water. Succulents, which are extremely beautiful as well as drought-tolerant, are also a great option for warmer climates. Citrus trees like Calamondin orange, Tahitian orange, and Satsuma tangerine work well for vacation homes in a warm, summer climate and inspire a tropical feel.
"When it comes to the colors to choose, I always adhere to my 80/20 rule: 80% of your plants should be strong and hardy, while 20% should incorporate the colorful flowers that bring you joy.
"To achieve a more modern feel, I like to use clean, straight lines to complement modern architecture: We call it the civilized jungle look. You can go as wild as you like in the different planting beds as long as you use hedges to give it a more tailored look overall.”
－ Fernando Wong, founder of Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design in Miami
Design with Direction
“The exterior space should feel like a natural extension of the interior. It’s about having pieces in your outdoor area that also work well with the interior decor to create flow throughout. You do not want to select anything competing to break up the harmonious feeling from inside to out. Repeating furniture like sectionals, sofas, love seats, in different areas or within one large area outside, is a way to get this effect.
"I would recommend going with wood for all areas outside. Wooden furniture appears more natural and blends into the outdoor environment in all seasons. Teak, African, or Honduran mahogany woods are the best, most durable options. Use the cushions as an opportunity to carry an accent color from the interior, or select something that blends well.
"Keep the flooring soft using wood and gravel or gravel alone. Hard flooring, albeit more practical, is less conducive to comfort and relaxation. Large areas of evergreen landscaping, if you have the space, can help give you a lush green effect year around. ”
－ Architect Mark Zeff, founder of MARKZEFF in Brooklyn, New York
Go for Natural Forms
“The design should be relaxed, inviting, and calming. Not overwhelming and busy with nowhere for your eyes to rest. Incorporate natural materials, such as stone and woods such as teak, which is weatherproof, won’t stain from the sun, and stays cool to the touch, as well as furniture with clean lines or organic forms. For instance, a teak root table with teak arm chairs and sofas and a cement or stone table would work well for an outdoor area. I also love coral stone and rough travertine because they age well and wear nicely.
"Water absorbent fabrics like Terry cloths are both plush and durable for outdoor furniture. Just stick with lighter, more neutral tones, since the darker the fabric, the more heat it will attract. The same goes for metal or iron furniture—in the sun it will burn to touch.”
－ New York-based designer Samuel Amoia
Think outside the box
“Even if your home is in an urban setting, you can still create an outdoor space. For a vacation home in central London, for example, we converted the area in between two buildings into a cigar terrace that leads from an interior personal study. The area was a flat roof space above the kitchen that we managed to successfully connect to the study to provide a rare outdoor oasis of calm in Central London. Columns and terraces were manufactured to create the appropriate ambience for day and evening entertaining.
"When you’re working with a small space like this one, keeping a subtle palette makes the area feel larger. To connect indoors with outdoors, creating continuous use of flooring from inside to out evokes the feeling of one huge lateral living space and utilizes the total square footage of the exterior.”
－ Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design, based in London and Miami
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