The Northern Beaches Architects designing for seamless indoor/outdoor living
The doors disappear and the windows reveal a view too spectacular to be hidden behind a series of window frames… it is the quintessential Australian lifestyle that calls for smart design with a focus on the seamless integration of the indoors and outdoors.
More than adding extra windows or a few glass doors, good design seamlessly integrates the home into the space in which it sits, simultaneously inviting the surrounds into the home and calling the residents to look up and enjoy nature at its best.
John Hooghuis, Playoust Churcher Design Director, is aware of the benefits that this style of design can bring to homeowners.
“Blurring the lines between the indoors and the outdoors gives a house a great deal more functionality. By making the windows and doors flexible, you can combine indoor and outdoor living spaces, giving flexibility in changing conditions and often reducing the cost and area of a home. By inviting the outdoors into the home, you create an intimacy with your surrounds.
Often it’s about protecting and focusing on the views available, and removing distracting clutter. As many Sydney homes are on steep sites, the views are often downwards, so bringing the living spaces to the edge of the building and locating outdoor areas to the side will protect the downward views from the interior of your home.”
The Castlecrag house was an old “Sydney School” house, so familiar to many with its exposed clinker bricks and timber beams.
The original narrow verandahs along the view side of the home were virtually unusable due to their small size – the balusters blocking the water views – while the living and dining spaces were much smaller than the owners would have liked. Extending was not an option due to constraints on the footprint of the home.
Inspired by elements of iconic Sydney architect Ken Woolley’s Palm Beach House, which John had studied while at Uni, the verandahs were removed and the floor space was extended to the very edge of the building.
The new walls featured large sliding doors that disappeared on tracks beyond the edge of the building, leaving a clean opening with an almost invisible glass baluster as the unobtrusive dividing line between indoors and outdoors. The view became the hero of the room.
These flexible indoor/outdoor living spaces were complemented by an external terrace attached to the kitchen, intimately connecting the space to the lush garden and rock surrounds… and, again, to the beautiful view on one side.
“In my mind there’s something special about seeing the doors themselves disappear behind walls so you just have an opening to the outside. A view can be far more elegant if it is framed by a clean and uncluttered opening. What we try to do is slide the doors away altogether to create a much cleaner and simpler entrance to the outside – you just see the opening and not the doors, leaving people wondering if it is an internal room or a verandah.” – John Hooghuis, Playoust Churcher Design Director
Smart design principles
While most often associated with modern architecture, the principles of seamless indoor/outdoor design can work equally well in traditionally styled homes with standard window and door systems. This was the case with the St Ives Estate renovation.
Throughout the renovation process we maintained the thinness of the original house plan to take advantage of the stunning outlooks on both sides of the home. As you walk through the hallway that runs through the rooms in the home you can alternately enjoy the view over the pool to the south and the front gardens to the north.
The pavilions added to the home were designed in such a way that they sit detached from the home, using windows and glazed connections to connect them to the main building, providing glances out into the gardens when passing through from space to space.
The breakfast room was a small pavilion added to the home, looking out over the pool and to the bushland beyond.
Two of the three exterior walls were fitted with bifold doors opening to the terraces… so as to not limit the view of the third wall we created a full glass picture window, to feature the full and complete view.
Using bifold doors that disappear out of view against the external walls of the house creates the impression of a completely open room – a nice trick for a flexible indoor/outdoor spaces.
Inviting the outside… inside
With some homes, like the home we designed in May Road, Dee Why, the seamless integration of the indoors and outdoors is about the experience of inviting the outside, inside.
The home was designed as a series of pavilions linked by glazed connections with bridges and stairs.
The sloping site called for an innovative design that could navigate the slope, creating an interesting journey from the entry up to the living areas, with the glazed connections bringing the landscape close in to the home on the way.
As you walk through the bridge areas in the home you are directly connected to the landscape which comes in between the pavilions, ultimately bringing the garden into the centre of the home as an experience.
On the eastern end of the home, the living room opens up to a large deck floating over rock platforms, with another garden terrace on the western end off the dining area, again giving a flexible living space that can be opened up to the garden areas.
If you want to create a seamless indoor/outdoor living design, we will take the time to listen to your vision and help you to bring it to life.