Five clever design tricks to bring the outdoors inside


Good news, nature lovers: you don’t have to build a home from scratch to create a beautiful flow between the outdoors and indoors. Our architect and interior designer Belinda Miles shares some practical tips to invite nature into your living spaces.

View of the backyard and pool

Create a versatile outdoor space


An easy way of enjoying the outdoors at home is creating an outdoor space that’s easy to use and brings you joy.

“I would look to creating more versatile and weather-proof outdoor areas that can be utilised all year round. Adding more functional and enticing furniture to a deck or balcony can encourage greater use of that space. Also, consider enlarging the openings between inside and outside to increase the flow between the spaces,” says Belinda.

Outdoor cabanas for entertainment


An outdoor room or cabana is also a great idea to create a multifunctional area that can substantially increase the living areas of your home. These can be flexible spaces that can be fully open to the elements or closed off. They may contain a lounge area, dining area, BBQ/kitchen, pizza oven and bar area… maybe even a teenage retreat/games room or gym. They can be poolside or even just a garden room… no pool required!

Our team at Playoust Churcher has been working on a similar project for one of our clients. The brief: A poolside cabana for teenage entertainment.

With two teenage daughters, our client wanted more space to entertain but did not want to increase the size of the main home. We worked with them to create a design that is functional, flexible and beautiful. It contains a dining area, living area with TV, BBQ and pizza oven and bar seating. There’s also a lovely firepit. This design arrangement increases their entertaining and relaxation areas while enhancing the way they live in their home.

Kitchen with themed with black and wood

The power of indoor greenery


For those living in apartments that have no outdoor space, Belinda suggests incorporating as many plants into your décor as possible.

“Standard plants in corners, small plants on sideboards. All different sizes and varieties to add colour and texture to your space. Many plants have also been found to improve the quality of the air, so that has to be an added bonus!

Also adding pops of green and white to your furnishings can help freshen up the space and increase the connection to the outdoors.”

Bohemian themed living room

Mirrors, mirrors... on all the walls


Natural light… the more of it you invite into your home, the better! According to Belinda, to increase the natural light in your home, the obvious option is adding more mirrors, and going with light colours in your décor choice.

“Positioning a mirror to reflect a beautiful outdoor area can work wonders, especially in a small space. If you’re really trying to increase the amount of light in a space, I would also consider lightening up the décor – white reflects light and increases the sense of space, whereas black absorbs light and can make a space feel smaller and more enclosed.”

View of the kitchen and dining inside the house and outside dining area

Planning is key


In order to maximise the ease of outdoor living in all weather conditions, strategic planning is key.

“Ideally, a nice deep deck with a high ceiling allows adequate ventilation. Also, adding ceiling fans to outdoor spaces for summer and heaters for winter enables the use of the spaces all year round and in all weather,” says Belinda.

If you don’t have the luxury of depth and space, you might consider screens for weather protection or additional shading solutions to provide protection from the direct sun, wind or rain.

Belinda adds: “Another smart idea is to use deciduous planting to provide shade in summer but allow sun into the space in the colder months. The air is also cooled as it passes through the foliage, which makes the space even more enjoyable on those hot summer days.”

View of the interior of the house

Try not to rush


You’ll need some patience to see how the weather plays out where your home is located… especially if you are designing a house from scratch.

“I would definitely spend the time assessing the environmental aspects of the house – shading, ventilation, insulation, glazing, etc. Ideally, you would work in conjunction with a landscape architect too, in order to maximise the flow from inside to outside. If a house is designed properly, it should require less heating and less cooling (economical and environmental bonus!) and provide a wonderful space to live – both inside and outside.”

Partner with the right architect and designer


Engaging professional architects and designers who take the time to truly understand your lifestyle and home needs is a crucial step to create your forever home.

At Playoust Churcher, our team is down to earth, knowledgeable and experienced in the DA process.

Contact us today to start the conversation.

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