Awesome Indoor/Outdoor Flow – 6 Tips for Small House Plans

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Outdoor living is great. Indoor/outdoor flow is even better! Good indoor/outdoor flow means there is a nearly seamless transition from indoor living spaces to outdoor living areas, making the overall design feel bigger, brighter, and more connected with nature. Below are six tips on how to achieve awesome indoor/outdoor flow in a small house plan.

1) Choose a layout with lots of windows

It’s been said that windows are the soul of a house, brightening spaces with natural light and a connection to the outside world. Why do you think people typically prefer having a window in front of them when doing dishes? Because doing dishes isn’t fun, and the window provides a welcome distraction, whether it’s watching the sun set, admiring the majesty of a distant mountain range, or simply monitoring children at play in the yard. To achieve indoor/outdoor flow, use large windows in major living areas, e.g. the family room or primary suite. For a truly decked-out experience, go for a folding wall of windows or a bow window (similar to a bay window, but cooler!)

2) Incorporate glass doors to outdoor living areas

Sliding glass doors separating the living room from a rear patio or deck is probably the simplest way to create indoor/outdoor flow. If you’d like to make things a little fancier, go with French doors.

Endure Window Patio Door

Endure Window Patio Door

3) Get great sight lines going

This one’s especially important. You can have as many doors and windows as you like, but if they’re haphazardly placed throughout the house, you likely won’t achieve the indoor/outdoor flow you’re looking for. Ideally, you’d want to be able to open your front door and have a clear sight line all the way through the living room and out onto the back porch, patio, etc.

4) Create your outdoor oasis

True indoor/outdoor flow means you should barely be able to tell where indoor living stops and outdoor living begins. For a truly magical experience, set up a nice outdoor living space, e.g. a rear porch with a fireplace or fire pit, a patio with a grill, an outdoor kitchen and bar, or a cabana with a pool.

Slate Terra Cut Grill

Slate Terra Cut Grill

5) Keep consistency in materials inside and out

Make sure whatever design choices you’ve made inside follow you as you move outside. Remember, it’s all about making it feel as if the indoor and outdoor living areas are all one big space. Example: if you use blue pillows to accent your living room furniture, use that same color to highlight your porch furniture. Similarly, if you’re building in the mountains and you have stone accents on your living room fireplace, mimic that same look and feel on your outdoor fireplace. Finally, if your living room offers vaulted ceilings (another great way to make just about any room feel large and airy), make sure your rear porch (if covered) also features a vaulted ceiling.

6) Spend where it counts

If you live in the city, all this talk of backyards with porches, pools, and fireplaces might not be for you. But, consider what IS right for you. Maybe it’s not a decked-out living room, but rather a deluxe primary suite with a fairy-tale balcony, or a walkout basement that transitions onto a basketball court. There’s no rule that says indoor-outdoor flow MUST take place in the main living room. Spend your money where you know it will make you the happiest. And have fun!

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