We all live in a stressful world. This lack of genuine tranquility in people’s lives is one of the reasons why more and more homeowners want to create a habitat that does not need airfare to go to. Now, most especially, when the new normal asks for more time indoors, it has become even more important to plan serene interior design. What better way is there to create a tranquil habitat than to design an indoor outdoor home?
Create An Indoor Outdoor Design with Zen Principles
The word Zen, itself, refers to meditation. The Japanese use this term when they are also referring to relaxation, balance, and harmony.
Zen may not be a widely recognized interior design but it does have its own audience. There are also rules to follow with this style such as embracing purity, minimalism, and living a simplistic life.
Talk of a Zen life, have you ever thought how the rooms with the most pleasant vibe in your home are not just those with good quality furniture in them but also those that present a wonderful view of the outdoors? You might think that your landscaping and the snow-capped mountain near your home have nothing to do with your interiors but they can actually play a huge role in terms of beautification.
If you live in a beachfront or if your home happens to be surrounded by a lot of trees, then you can maximize your interiors by taking advantage of these outdoor views and designing with fine furniture accordingly.
Would you like to have the ability to bring nature right into your home? This is a quest that homeowners, over the centuries, have longed to achieve. Humans, after all, love organic interiors and the organic appeal of earth’s elements because Mother Nature is one with them.
Organic modern dwellings are usually soothing and have a down-to-earth feel. The natural elements such as clean lines, rustic stuff, vegetation, and lots of natural light – all add a certain level of warmth to any home with modern architecture.
Turn Things Inside Out (and Vice Versa)
More often than not, homeowners plan their landscaping standing at and looking outdoors, buying the plants right away, and positioning them where they look best coming from the street. You could actually change this approach.
Go inside your home then see how you could create the indoor outdoor perfect view for those massive windows. You would want to plan a layout that perfectly frames the trees and the bushes that will be grown outdoors. You would also like to highlight a flowering shrub.
This was achieved in the above dining room. Do you see those clear, unobstructed windows allowing the light to flood in? They're sublime, aren't they?
Don’t be limited to just one room, though. Remember that exterior landscaping can be viewed from three or even more rooms at the same time. The earlier you plan the layout, the happier you will be with the result that you will accomplish.
Plan An Outdoor-Based Palette
That huge glass pane could serve as one of the walls in a living room. This is the case for a lot of homes these days. It’s like having a full wall painted with nature’s colors. Just imagine if you have a home that overlooks the Pacific Ocean – you will see the sandy hues and the blues and greens each day.
For outdoor views that are brighter and more vibrant, consider using neutrals for your interior palette so that the focus will now be turned to the fabulous vistas.
Talk of vistas, just look at the massive glass pane in this living room. It provides the much-needed light as well as difficult-to-ignore aesthetics. The beauty of the outdoors is clearly seen as it becomes the perfect backdrop to the already beautiful American Leather sectional and other living room quality furniture.
Create Panoramic Views
If you don’t already have them at the moment, then there’s no better time than now to create one.
Remodel your home to include a sunroom, porch, conservatory or outdoor rooms that are all great ways to bring nature in. Make sure that this new room will not disrupt the present floor plan.
Set up a screen if you already have a porch. You can also create a landscape filled with fountains, planters, or even simple potted plants.
If your home is like a lot of homes nowadays with the outdoors blocked with heavy draperies, opaque walls, and dark colors, then it’s up to you to create a vista. Here’s a compromise that you will have to make, though – you need sunlight since the plants will need this as you would also.
Open up your space by breaking down walls if necessary. You can also place potted plants on the outdoor part of the windowsills and have the inner sills filled with these potted beauties, too. What you’ll have created is a unified look that will fuse the outdoor and indoor greeneries.
Install the Right Window
Sometimes, all it takes to connect the indoors with the outdoors is one, huge window that will provide the best viewing experience. When uncertain, pick a clean, uninterrupted, panoramic view as much as you can.
Say no to grilles.
There is also another single window that could provide all the views that you would need. It can even help with the illumination in your home. Installing a skylight allows you to rely on natural lighting as you also get to have a good view of the blue skies.
Privacy is the main concern for glass window installations, though. If you don’t want people looking into your home all the time, then you could partially obscure the window glasses or have the glass panes tinted. Just be sure to use blinds or curtains at night because the tint will only obscure the view during the day.
Design the rooms in your home with the Hottest Window Treatment Styles in 2020 that would go well with your glass windows.
The window materials aren’t the only things that you should be concerned about. These materials, after all, need the proper architectural frames so that they could truly feature the outdoor sceneries.
Here are two more window types that are often used to showcase the best outdoors scenery while encasing your Sacramento interior design –
Bay. This is a projecting, three-paneled unit. It is often wide enough to present the landscape in a single frame. It can easily fuse with any architectural feature or it can also be perennially Victorian. It is versatile so it can even be used to replace an old picture window.
Bow. This is much like the bay window but with extra broad glass panes. It can house up to six panels. The sub-windows can be operated so you can let in the breeze while clearly enjoying the views outside.
Earthy Hues Only Please
The Zen-inspired style is all about the use of natural hues and soft tones. Use a lot of grays, whites, shades of beige, a touch of pink beige, and other such soft hues. These colors are soft enough to induce calmness.
It is important to consider chromatic harmony between all the design elements. Be careful also in establishing visual seamlessness especially between the furniture, flooring, and the walls.
You also need to fuse a dominant color with textured fabrics like moleskin, for instance. Don’t be afraid to create diversity by fusing two matching hues. Play also with the degradation of your favored color.
Choose Elements That Bring Peace
This does not mean doing the feng shui each time that you move your fine furniture about or buying only the feng shui approved pieces. Pick materials that showcase your personal flair. Some homeowners may like the look of natural rocks as wall art while others like the sophistication offered by dark mahogany furniture or flooring. Be sure to find natural elements that show your style while connecting you to your home.
Use Bricks as a Focal Point or Backdrop
Brick making is a process that involves natural elements such as water, clay, mud, and fire. These eventually produce one of the sturdiest building materials.
The appeal of brick transcends time. Its rustic uniformity makes old homes and now modern dwellings a place to marvel at. Plus bricks are also a representation of Mother Nature in your home's interiors because of its organic look.
Find Bare Furniture
Straight, simple lines characterize Zen furnishings. These pieces do not come with excessive ornamentation but each has a high quality. The materials that were used to manufacture these pieces are all-natural. This also brings a sense of relaxation and warmth to your Zen home.
As for the storage pieces such as the cupboards, closets, and drawers, these can look livelier when they match the color of the interior.
The Zen Bedroom
Since the bedroom is the most Zen among all the rooms in your home, you should concentrate on designing this. Begin by placing the bed closest to the natural source of light but never place it right in front of a passage area.
The bed’s height must be one that you’re comfortable with, although, higher beds tend to feel comfier. Choose upholstered or leather.
Never over decorate your bedroom. You may use fleece, wool, or mohair as covers. Throws are allowed but remember not to exaggerate even with quality furniture. Find pillows with different sizes.
Be sure to invest in an armchair if your reading nook is also in your bedroom. This has to be a super comfy seating unit that still comes with simple lines that are the ultimate requirement for every Zen home.
Add A Few Ornaments
For your wall décor, the rule is also the same – keep it simple. Never create a gallery of paintings or framed photographs when you can just actually hang a single piece. If you can, cover your book collection with monochromatic paper.
You can also enhance the Zen feel in your home by enhancing each room with natural scents. Ylang Ylang and Lavender are popular calming scents.
Let Natural Light Flood In
If you want to set up a truly relaxing home, then discard all the harsh lights that are currently displayed. Have these replaced with the most calming lights such as candles or nature-inspired lighting fixtures.
Set up various sources of light so that you can control the amount of intensity in different areas. Never project a direct light from your ceiling. Be sure to take advantage of wide windows in letting in ample sunlight.
Every homeowner should make it a point to use daylight to light their home. It is a great way to jump-start your decision to go green and to provide comfort to all the occupants of a home. This natural light should be bright enough to penetrate the entire building.
The sun is able to deliver a huge amount of light to the world, each day. The light emanating from the moon is about 10,000 foot-candles (a gauge for light’s intensity). Glass or clouds come with filtering effects that can cut down the brightness of the sun’s light by 50-90%. Still, having 1,000 to 5,000 foot-candles provides ample illumination. It is now up to you to harness this great amount of light by knowing how to place windows or what materials to use inside of your home.
The daylighting design requirements should have balanced privacy and a picturesque view. It must be considered alongside the building layout, orientation, and location.
You should consider using diffused light in the absence of direct sunlight. This requires proper planning and window placement. Even the size of the windows should be carefully thought through. Do not overglaze as it could cause glaring. It can also let in too much heat during the summer and lose heat during the wintry months.
Solar gain and direct light can be provided by sunlight. Should the sky be overcast, know that solar gain is decreased yet the skydome will continue to provide light.
The correct placement of mirrors and glass-surface furnishings will also provide daylight. External reflection from adjacent buildings or light shelves can also offer additional lighting. Yet again, be careful that there isn’t too much reflectance as this can cause glaring.
Increase Daylight Penetration
Remember this – the daylight will have a deeper hue the higher the window head placement is. A single window can offer illumination up to a depth of 1 ½ times the height of the window head. This means that upping the window height also increases the penetration of light.
Make good use of gloss finishes, mirrors, light colors, and other reflective finishes. Sills, jambs and window frames can be painted in lighter colors. Be sure to angle or splay the deep-set windows towards the interior of your home.
The floors may not contribute much when it comes to giving off reflections especially when it comes in a dark color. Make it a point to install light-colored flooring material if you want to increase the light levels in your home.
Having interior walls that disperse light is a great solution. These walls can gather indirect light coming from a brightly-lit adjacent room and even capitalize on the reflective surfaces of certain furnishings. Clear glass can transmit a huge amount of light to the adjacent rooms.
Glass can be acid-etched or sandblasted. It may also be laminated or textured. A plastic interlayer is used in laminated glass. It offers the same effect as that of the sandblasted type minus the marking. Applied films can be considered, too.
Full-length glass walls can also offer auditory privacy. Perceived room dimensions are naturally upped as the borrowed light concept is utilized. This is also useful in spaces with constraints on their floor area.
Having white-painted walls or using neutral colors would work well in having borrowed light inside your home. Use translucent materials to absorb, reflect, or scatter light. Diffused lighting contributes to the comfort inside a home as it also limits eyestrain.
Wood is the soul of the organic indoor outdoor design. The imperfections of wood such as grains and knots are the very things that make it stand out. Wooden furniture now comes in various species and finishes. You can use this material from your ceiling beams down to your dining table, chairs, even the flooring.
Look for wood furniture with the country and rustic appeal if you want to achieve a traditional look in your home. For those who are looking to have a contemporary setting, look for wood furniture with non-complex, free from ornamentation lines.
Bring Nature in Every Room
Bringing in natural finishes in your dwelling place is no longer a new concept yet it has become a game-changer of sorts to many homeowners. You can look into buying organic bedding for your bedroom. These are those sheets that come with rustic leaves or birds as designs.
A Zen fountain can make a home office feel more calming and soothing.
Design your home according to the concepts that make you feel more excited, charged, even calmed, and find out how nature would play its role in your home.
When it comes to floral inspiration, make sure that you bring in the real thing. It can be frustrating to see fake greenery covered in dust inside any of your rooms. Allow nature to find its way to your interiors by bringing in potted plants, flowers, cacti, and succulents in their natural state.
Another room where you need to feel relaxed or rejuvenated is the bathroom. A water heater can make your body feel soothed. It can even transport your mind to a much-needed level of serenity. This is something that you can look forward to after a long day of work.
Add wood walls in your bathroom to attain the look of a dry heat sauna. Fixtures must have minimal lines and your source of light is preferably from the sun’s rays flowing right into this room. At night, find a light source that still creates the ideal, one-of-a-kind experience in bathing.
Living in organic interiors is not just relaxing, it can also make you feel a sense of fulfillment as you help Mother Earth in the process.
There are many clear benefits to spending a few hours or even just a few minutes outdoors. This is what the Japanese refer to as forest bathing, that moment when you walk through the greenest trees and bushes. But would you just like to experience this awesome feeling when you’re outdoors? Or would you like to reap the benefits of having houseplants brought in?
Houseplants are a lot more than mere decoration. A lot of studies have shown that greenery in your home or even the workplace can contribute to positive moods, lower stress levels, and a clean feeling because the air gets filtered somehow.
If you want to improve your health as well as the aesthetics of your home, then you can hit these two birds with the single stone that are house plants.
A single potted plant for every 100 square feet is highly recommended. This or you can ask an interior designer how to best customize the indoor plant placement in your living areas.
Grade A Air Quality
Indoor plants have amazing air purifying effects. This was declared by no less than NASA in 1989. According to them, plants can easily detoxify space stations. If the plants can do it in there, then they could just as easily do it inside energy-efficient buildings.
There are many different kinds of indoor plants that can be effectively used to remove benzene, formaldehyde, and other types of pollutants in any sealed chambers. Common golden pothos and spider plants have been observed to be most effective.
Other plants that offer air cleansing benefits include the ficus, dracaena, English ivy, Chinese evergreen, peace lily, bamboo, reed palm, and the philodendron.
If you want to lessen the risks of stroke, ischemic heart disease, respiratory infections, COPD, and lung cancer, then be ready to embrace these new decorative elements.
Experts have yet to agree as to the reasonable amount of houseplants that could cleanse a significant pollutant level. But for as long as you have potted plants indoors, you, somehow, take the first steps towards a cleaner environment.
Who wouldn’t want to have an increased amount of activity in a home office? Since we all live in a world of computers and gadgets, humans tend to be disconnected from Mother Nature so it makes sense that you bring in a little of nature to enhance the mood in a workspace.
Science supports this concept as was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2014. If you like to increase productivity and job satisfaction, then be sure to bring in a potted plant or two in your home office.
How would you like to be free from ailments? Studies on flowers and plants show that they have a positive effect on the recovery of surgical patients. In fact, these patients tend to have less need for painkillers when they have greeneries to cheer them up. They also reported less fatigue and anxiety.
Plants are known to significantly reduce the time that a patient heals inside a hospital. There are also pieces of evidence of the positive effects of horticulture therapy where patients actually take part in caring for plants while they are recuperating.
It is possible that these healing effects take place because plants are amazing filters of airborne microbes. A study at Washington State University proved that a house with plants has 20% less dust.
Just be careful that you don’t bring indoor plants as gifts to patients who have recently undergone transplants or are immune-compromised. These people are more susceptible to bacteria in the soil so it is best to wait for them to recover before you even consider giving them indoor plant gifts.
Turning Japanese: Find Inspiration for Your Indoor Outdoor Home Design
Did it ever occur to you that most Japanese homes are actually small? While this is so, you would not hear Zen enthusiasts ever complaining of not having ample space. And even when these homes are situated close to one another, natural light, safety, and privacy are all still kept intact.
Most urban Japanese homes are not single-family homes. In fact, their apartments are small yet you will still see the beautiful traditional features like step-up entryways and the deeply-relaxing soaking tubs.
Even Westernized Japanese style homes have one Japanese room complete with tatami flooring. This means that the traditional Japanese elements are still widely incorporated by many Western architects.
When you go to Japan, one of the things that you would immediately notice are the gated entryways. This is because many residential streets do not have sidewalks. The line of demarcation, therefore, rests on the property’s gate.
The gate is also traditionally roofed especially in Kyoto, Japan. It is also common to find cherry trees in the garden that greets the visitors once they are welcomed into the property.
While the fusion of indoor and outdoor settings are encouraged, Japanese homes still have gates - for privacy and security reasons. Since there are gates, naturally, there are walls. The Japanese always make their properties secure and private so they set up walls right at the property lines. The most common material is the concrete block whether the home is situated in a quaint village or in a city.
There are also bigger homes with stone walls that are topped with wooden fences. There are even those that are topped with actual trees.
Japan is constantly bombarded with rain, hence, their roofs are designed for water drainage. The broad eaves allow the opening of exterior doors without letting in unwanted rain splashes.
This is that transitional space between the interiors of the home and the outdoors. This is that very spot where the shoes are exchanged for the slippers. Called the genkan, this is also where a shoe cupboard can be placed also some decorative objects like art, flowers, or ceramics.
This area may also face the tokonoma or the alcove where artwork or scrolls are prominently displayed. Ikebana or flower arrangements may also be featured there.
Japanese houses are often set up north-south, meaning, the house gets a steady amount of sunlight during the day. The outdoor views are often mountains or water features
The lovely louvered doors are also essential parts of every Japanese home. These also feature slatted windows which are common in live-work homes.
Wood and Straw Everywhere
No Japanese home can be called such without an element of wood in it. Japanese homes often stain their wooden features but they never paint them. It is crucial to feature the wood grain insomuch that they can even feature an entire tree as a roof beam.
Another important material in Japanese interior design is straw matting. On any tatami flooring, a type of grass called igusa is woven. This is used to keep the house cool during the summer months and warm during winter.
Straw matting can be a tad costly but they are known to last for many, many years. Remember how the Japanese never use their dirty shoes indoors? This is the reason why the tatami flooring remains undamaged for many years.
You can also follow this same concept. To add to the Zen atmosphere, you can also bring in standard rectangle mats. Get the ones that have black cloth or brocade edges.
Indoor outdoor interior design is fashionable as well as sustainable. If you want additional information about this unique fusion of the outdoors and your home, then ask our expert designers for free on our Designer on Demand.
Melissa brings over 22 years of experience in the Interior Design field, 10 years of which she was a senior designer at Ethan Allen. Melissa has been featured in both Home Magazine and The Sacramento Bee for her residential designs.
Sue Van Den Broeke
Sue brings over 13 years experience in the furniture/design field, including thorough knowledge of Hunter Douglas products and beautiful custom window treatments. In addition, using her art background (i.e., drawing, oil painting, etc), Sue has the ability to bring a balance of colors and textures to their rooms/projects.